Contemporary Islam

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 75-83

First online:

The meta-theory of piety: reflections on the work of Saba Mahmood

  • Julius BautistaAffiliated withDepartment of Southeast Asian Studies and the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore Email author 

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This paper discusses the extent to which Saba Mahmood’s ideas about Muslim women and agency are relevant for works beyond her ethnographic speciality. The first part will reflect upon her arguments about Muslim female piety within the larger context of progressive politics in the USA and the Middle East. The second part will describe the implications of Mahmood’s work towards the production of alternative discourses—that is, works inspired by and produced from outside the overarching influence of a Euro-American intellectual tradition.


Saba Mahmood Muslim women Docility Piety Alternative discourse Embodied agency