The Islamic Liberation Reading List

By Asad DandiaAugust 1, 2020

The Islamic Liberation Reading List
The Islamic Liberation Reading List aims to offer both a contribution and a critique to help readers grapple with our contemporary global crises, during where movements animated by racial, economic, gender, and environmental injustice (among others) have mobilized in the pursuit of a better world.

The purpose of compiling this reading list is to explore how Islam — both as an internal, autonomous set of discourses and practices, and as a global tradition with an indelible impact on the world — can help us think through these emergent vistas of possibility. 

Some of the authors write as Muslims, bringing their faith to their work and often speaking directly to their communities, while others (Muslim and non-Muslim) write in different capacities, at times descriptively. Regardless of their positionality and who they’re writing for, the reader will find a diverse array of thinkers with a range of intellectual and political commitments, all offering interesting new ways to think through our moment.

This list is not exhaustive, and it should not be seen as a blanket endorsement of all the texts, authors, and views it contains, but rather as a starting point for critically exploring the essential role of the Islamic tradition in global struggles for freedom and justice. As one of the great intellectual repositories of humanity, Islam can serve as a potent resource for such endeavors.

What does the Islamic tradition, in all of its colors and streams — and to which nearly a fourth of humanity lays claim — have to say to us now? This is the question to which the Islamic Liberation Reading List attends.

Qur’anic Discourses                                                                                                 

  1. The Message of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad

  2. Major Themes of the Qur’an by Fazlur Rahman

  3. Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an by Asma Barlas

  4. Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity Against Oppression by Farid Esack

  5. Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam by Shadaab Rahemtulla

  6. Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective by Amina Wadud

  7. Feminist Edges of the Qur'an by Aysha Hidayatullah

  8. Communities of the Qur'an: Dialogue, Debate and Diversity in the 21st Century by Emran El-Badawi and Paula Sanders

  9. Exploring the Qur'an: Context and Impact by Muhammad Abdel Haleem

  10. The Walking Qur'an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa by Rudolph T. Ware III

Resistance: Theory and Praxis

  1. Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire by Hamid Dabashi

  2. With Stones in Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and Empire by Sohail Daulatzai and Junaid Rana

  3. Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America by Sohail Daulatzai

  4. Jihad as a Form of Struggle in the Resistance Against Apartheid South Africa by Na’eem Jeenah

  5. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane Diouf

  6. Religion Vs. Religion by Ali Shariati

  7. Islam without Europe: Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic Thought by Ahmad Dallal

  8. Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation by Fadi Bardawil

  9. Do Muslim Women Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod

  10. Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary by Alex Lubin

Racial Justice and Abolition

  1. Possessed by the Right Hand: The Problem of Slavery in Islamic Law and Muslim Cultures by Bernard Freamon

  2. Black Morocco: A History Of Slavery, Race, And Islam by Chouki El Hamel

  3. The Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia by Ismael M. Montana

  4. Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and its Demise 1800–1909 by Y. Hakan Erdem

  5. Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas by Michael Gomez

  6. The Call of Bilal: Islam in the African Diaspora by Edward E. Curtis IV

  7. The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam by Eve Troutt Powell and John O. Hunwick

  8. Those Who Know Don't Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State by Garrett Felber

  9. Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States by Su’ad Abdul Khabeer

  10. African Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles by Allan D. Austin

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism

  1. Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur'an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence by Kecia Ali

  2. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject by Saba Mahmood

  3. Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 by Khaled El-Rouayheb

  4. Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam by Amina Wadud 

  5. The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women's Rights In Islam by Fatima Mernissi

  6. Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender and Sexuality by Sa'diyya Shaikh

  7. The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire by Leslie P. Peirce

  8. Being Muslim: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam by Sylvia Chan-Malik 

  9. Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam by Dawn-Marie Gibson and Jamillah Karim

  10. American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism: More Than a Prayer by Juliane Hammer

Law and Theology

  1. Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari‘ah in the Modern Age by Khaled Abou El Fadl

  2. Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism by Jerusha Tanner Rhodes

  3. Sex and Society in Islam: Birth Control Before the Nineteenth Century by B.F. Musallam

  4. Modern Muslim Theology: Engaging God and the World with Faith and Imagination by Martin Nguyen

  5. Doubt in Islamic Law: A History of Legal Maxims, Interpretation, and Islamic Criminal Law by Intisar A. Rabb

  6. Maqasid Al-Shari'ah as Philosophy of Islamic Law: A Systems Approach by Jasser Auda

  7. The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology by Mona Siddiqui

  8. Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book by Abdullahi A. An-Na’im

  9. Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa by Ousmane Oumar Kane

  10. Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering by Sherman A. Jackson

Philosophy, Spirituality, and Ethics

  1. Al-Ghazali on the Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

  2. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Muhammad Iqbal

  3. The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity's Moral Predicament by Wael Hallaq           

  4. Secular Translations: Nation-State, Modern Self, and Calculative Reason by Talal Asad

  5. Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition by Souleymane Bachir Diagne

  6. Jihad of the Pen: The Sufi Literature of West Africa by Rudolph Ware, Zachary Wright, and Amir Syed

  7. Muslim Environmentalisms: Religious and Social Foundations by Anna M. Gade

  8. Divine Justice by Morteza Motahhari

  9. Progressive Muslims: On Gender, Justice & Pluralism by Omid Safi

  10. Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society by Zahra Ayubi

Poetry and Music

  1. Hagar Poems by Mohja Kahf

  2. Muslim Women Sing: Hausa Popular Song by Beverly B. Mack

  3. Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture by Hisham Aidi

  4. Women, the Recited Qur'an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia by Anne Rasmussen

  5. The Shahnameh: The Persian Epic as World Literature by Hamid Dabashi

Revolutionary Biographies

  1. Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters by Omid Safi

  2. Rabi'a From Narrative to Myth: The Many Faces of Islam's Most Famous Woman Saint, Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya by Rkia Elaroui Cornell

  3. The Caliph's Sister: Nana Asma'u, 1793-1865, Teacher, Poet and Islamic Leader by Jean Boyd

  4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

  5. An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shariati by Ali Rahnema


Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University and a 2020 Fellow at the LARB Publishing Workshop. Follow him on Twitter @DandiaAsad

LARB Contributor

Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University and a 2020 Fellow at the LARB Publishing Workshop. Follow him on Twitter @DandiaAsad


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