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J. Andrew Bush

May 7, 2021

Between Muslims

Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan

Stanford University Press 2020

Between Muslims Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan (Stanford UP, 2020) by J. Andrew Bush asks what it means to be Muslim, yet not pious, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Though Islam is often represented in terms of either daily devotion, such as prayer and fasting, or abandonment of faith, there are many who turn away from tradition without departing from Islam. J. Andrew Bush offers us a new way to understand religious difference in Islam, one that invites questions about divine texts and rejects easy answers about political or sectarian identities. 

Exploring the lives of irreligious Muslims, Bush highlights the paradoxes of their ethical orientation. While profoundly averse to many aspects of Islamic traditions, irreligious Muslims nonetheless harbor attractions to other aspects--such as Sufi poetry. Exploring this complex weave of attraction and aversion, the book provides intimate portraits of irreligious Kurdish Muslims in everyday life and the historical conditions that have allowed such paradoxical religious orientations to appear very ordinary in contemporary Kurdistan. 

Whether readers approach the book as Muslims with a commitment to Islam, or as Muslims with ambivalence to Islam, or as non-Muslims who bear their own forms of certainty or ambivalence about Islam, the book will open to the door to thinking about the relationship between commitment and ambivalence in Islamic traditions.

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Asad Dandia

Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University

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