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How do Muslim Americans respond to domestic violence? What motivates Muslim individuals and organizations to work towards eradicating domestic violence in their communities? Where do Muslim providers, survivors, victims, and organizations fit into the broader, mainstream anti-domestic violence movement? How do Muslims negotiate with religious tradition in their work against domestic violence to arrive at an ethic of non-abuse?

Juliane Hammer answers these and many other questions in her new brilliant, engaging, and clear new book Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts Against Domestic Violence (Princeton University Press, 2019). The book provides an excellent overview of the ways that Muslim Americans address domestic violence in their communities. Through rich, detailed ethnographic interviews with Muslim advocates, service providers, imams and other religious leaders, and organizations, Hammer explores the stories, struggles, and anxieties of Muslims as they face the intersections of a range of issues, including anti-Muslim hostility and patriarchy. Peaceful Families will be of interest to anyone interested in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Islam in America, the relationship between Islam and gender, and anyone generally interested in working against domestic violence.

In our conversation, we discuss some of the main points of the book and the themes that shape her arguments, including the broader Muslim anti-domestic violence movement—and whether it can be identified as a movement—the relationship between gender, patriarchy, and domestic violence; the impact of Islamophobia on survivors and victims of domestic violence; the ethic of non-abuse that is central to advocates’ work against domestic violence; and the relationship between academic policing and activist scholarship.

Shehnaz Haqqani is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam and gender, change and tradition in Islam, and religious authority. She can be contacted at  

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