The visible increase in religious practice among young European-born Muslims has provoked public anxiety. New government regulations seek not only to restrict Islamic practices within the public sphere, but also to shape Muslims', and especially women's, personal conduct. Pious Practice and Secular Constraints chronicles the everyday ethical struggles of women active in orthodox and socially conservative Islamic revival circles as they are torn between their quest for a pious lifestyle and their aspirations to counter negative representations of Muslims within the mainstream society.
Jeanette S. Jouili conducted fieldwork in France and Germany to investigate how pious Muslim women grapple with religious expression: for example, when to wear a headscarf, where to pray throughout the day, and how to maintain modest interactions between men and women. Her analysis stresses the various ethical dilemmas the women confronted in negotiating these religious duties within a secular public sphere. In conversation with Islamic and Western thinkers, Jouili teases out the important ethical-political implications of these struggles, ultimately arguing that Muslim moral agency, surprisingly reinvigorated rather than hampered by the increasingly hostile climate in Europe, encourages us to think about the contribution of non-secular civic virtues for shaping a pluralist Europe.
About the author
Jeanette S. Jouili is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
"Without doubt, Pious Practice and Secular Constraints is the best ethnographic examination of gender and Islamic practice in Western Europe. Jeanette Jouili offers a thought-provoking, nuanced exploration of Muslim piety and ethics, tackling issues of broad interest to those engaged with debates surrounding Muslims in Europe today."
—John Bowen, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Can Islam Be French?
"This is an impressive, engaging, and well-written study of ethical practice in a contradictory world. Focusing on pious Muslim women in Europe, Jouili expertly weaves together the voices of these women with a sophisticated theoretical approach that takes the study of ethical practice in a significant new direction. Pious Practice and Secular Constraints is an important contribution to the anthropological study of Islam in the modern world and to anthropology more broadly."
—Katherine Pratt Ewing, Columbia University, author of Stolen Honor: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin
"[T]his is an important resource on Muslim women." Rating: Highly Recommended—A. B. Al-Deen, Choice
"This book is a welcome contribution to the anthropology of ethics, diasporic Islam, and feminist studies. Jouili takes her place alongside the likes of Saba Mahmood, Nadia Fadil, and Mayanthi Fernando. As a fascinating source of ethnographic and theoretical material, Pious Practices and Secular Constraints can be useful in many disciplines."
—Kathleen M. Moore, Journal of Church and State
"Pious Practice and Secular Constraints is a well-written analysis that deserves to be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in contemporary Islam in Europe. It is a well-written, timely addition to the scholarly debate on Islamic piety that offers an abundance of theoretical insights, and it is a must-read for graduate students as well as senior researchers in the field of gender and Islam."
—Margaretha A. van Es , Nordic Journal of Migration Research
"[The author] offers an erudite contribution to the project of breaking down the problematic dichotomies between faith and rationality and between East and West that persistently vex both scholarship and popular thinking about Islam...This is feminist ethnography at its best, showing how decisions made at the most personal level necessarily involve and implicate the political at the level of community and society. Jeanette Jouili's book will be of great interest to scholars working on theories of modernity, orthodoxy, citizenship, gender, space, and ethics. It will be a superlative teaching aid for classes in anthropology, sociology, women's and gender studies, urban studies, philosophy, comparative religion, and more."
—Alisa Perkins, American Ethnologist
"In the plethora of books currently being published on Islam in Europe and, in particular, the experiences of Muslimahs, Jouili's research stands out for its attention to the ethical subject....The ease and confidence with which the author moves among disciplines and her clear exposition of theoretical frameworks will ensure a wide readership of specialists and lay people alike."
—Alaya Forte, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
"[T]his remarkable and well-written ethnography makes a significant contribution to literatures on Muslim religiosity in Europe and the complexities and governances of secularisms in contemporary Germany and France. Conservative German and French Muslim young women's reflections and daily struggles come alive in Jouili's balanced, compelling, and thought-engaging account."
—Jennifer A. Selby, ReOrient: The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies