RIDAGA: Shari’a Revoiced: Documenting Muslims’ Experiences of Islamic Law

Mark Fathi Massoud
UC Santa Cruz

Kathleen Moore
Religious Studies
UC Santa Barbara


Maria Ebrahimji

Shahab Malki
UC Riverside

Ziba Mir-Hosseini
School of Law
SOAS, University of London

The goal of the Shari’a Revoiced Studio was to uncover new voices and understandings of Islamic law among Muslim communities in California, a microcosm of the United States. The Studio documented how Muslim activists, students, feminists, lawyers, social workers, and other cultural brokers produce local forms of Islamic knowledge.

Participant Description

Throughout the grant period, the Shari’a Revoiced Studio has conducted qualitative analysis of original data gathered through semi-structured interviews with nearly 100 California Muslims. Fieldwork was conducted during 2014-15 in urban and suburban settings across California, in places where Muslims are constructing (and challenging) knowledge of shari’a. We take a grounded-theory approach to the data in order to develop theoretical ideas about diasporic formulations of law that are inter-subjectively experienced as both rooted in faith and continually negotiated through community education and action. The advantage of a grounded theory approach is that it allows for the emergence of theory from the data. We explore the lived experience of shari’a as we investigate how California Muslims evaluate, interpret, and explain the relevance of religious law at moments of choice, change and challenge in their personal lives. In our analysis, we find that ‘religion’ in people’s lives has both first- and second-order meaning and that shari’a has both legalistic and extra-legal dimensions, and we demonstrate that both ‘religion’ and ‘shari’a’ stand in relation to other interpretive frames, e.g., human rights or social justice.


Mark Fathi Massoud
Principal Investigator, UC Santa Cruz

Mark Fathi Massoud is Associate Professor of Politics and Legal Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He teaches courses in international law, human rights, and comparative law. His first book, Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan (Cambridge University Press), received prizes from the Law and Society Association and American Political Science Association. Massoud has been awarded fellowships from Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs and Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Massoud received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015.

Kathleen M. Moore
Principal Investigator, UC Santa Barbara

Kathleen M. Moore is professor and chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Moore teaches courses on religious liberty, Islam in America, and Muslim diasporas and the law. Her publications appear in The Oxford Handbook of American Islam, The Cambridge Companion to American Islam and The Routledge Handbook of Islam in the West. Her books include The Unfamiliar Abode: Islamic Law in the United States and Britain (Oxford University Press, 2010), Muslim Women in America: Challenges facing Islamic Identity Today (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Al-Mughtaribun: American Law and the Transformation of Muslim Life in America (SUNY Press, 1995).

Shahab Malik
Graduate Research Fellow, UC Riverside

Shahab Malik is an Anthropology doctoral candidate at the University of California, Riverside.  His dissertation research concerns the complex ways shari’a is renegotiated among American Imams trained at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Over the last four years Shahab has travelled between Cairo and California researching the educational training of Imams in the context of culture, politics, economics and its effects on Islamic practice. Shahab has received the Chancellors Distinguished Fellowship, the UCR Distinguished Service Award, and is the Graduate Research Fellow with Shari’a Revoiced, a project of the UC Humanities Research Institute.
Maria Ebrahimji
Media Advisor, Journalist, Consultant

Maria Ebrahimji is a journalist, strategist, speaker, and independent consultant passionate about storytelling and talent development. As a former executive at CNN, she led a team in guest coverage, newsgathering, and story planning for CNN’s special events, breaking news, and multi-platform programming. Maria has produced live events with luminaries and newsmakers – during breaking news and in the backdrop of major global events.
Maria is the Co-Editor of I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim (White Cloud Press, 2011). In 2012, Maria co-founded I Speak for Myself, Inc. (ISFM), a book publishing enterprise that produces narrative collections focused on faith and culture.  To date, ISFM has published six volumes in the series. Maria currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Press Club and Community Guilds and as an advisor to Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta, Tau Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, and the National Center for Civil & Human Rights. She is a member of the World Affairs Council, the Georgia Diversity Council, and the Asian American Journalists Association. You will always find her at the intersection of people and ideas…or on a yoga mat!
Ziba Mir-Hosseini
Collaborating International Scholar
Dr. Ziba Mir-Hosseini is a legal anthropologist, specializing in Islamic law, gender and development. She has a BA in Sociology from Tehran University (1974) and a PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Cambridge (1980). She is Professorial Research Associate at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, University of London. She has held numerous research fellowships and visiting professorships, including a Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004-5), and Hauser Global Law Visiting Professor at New York University (2002-8). Dr. Mir-Hosseini is a founding member of Musawah Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family.