In the Shade of the Sunna: Salafi Piety in the Twentieth-Century Middle East

Tue February 20th 2024, 5:00pm
Event Sponsor
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies
Program on Arab Reform and Democracy
Encina Commons
615 Crothers Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Salafis explicitly base their legitimacy on continuity with the Quran and the Sunna, and their distinctive practices—praying in shoes, wearing long beards and short pants, and observing gender segregation—are understood to have a similarly ancient pedigree. In his book, however, Aaron Rock-Singer draws from a range of media forms as well as traditional religious texts to demonstrate that Salafism is a creation of the twentieth century and that its signature practices emerged primarily out of Salafis’ competition with other social movements amid the intellectual and social upheavals of modernity. In the Shade of the Sunna thus takes readers beyond the surface claims of Salafism’s own proponents—and the academics who often repeat them—into the larger sociocultural and intellectual forces that have shaped Islam’s fastest growing revivalist movement.


Aaron Rock-Singer is a social and intellectual historian of the Modern Middle East and Islam. He received his B.A from the University of Pennsylvania (2007), his M.Phil from St. Antony’s College, Oxford (2010) and his Ph.D from Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies (2016). He is currently a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative.

Dr. Rock-Singer's research draws on mass and small media to trace the changing relationship between religion, politics and society in the 20th-century Middle East. His first book, Practicing Islam in Egypt: Print Media and the Islamic Revival was published by Cambridge University Press (2019) and his second book, In the Shade of the Sunna: Salafi Piety in the 20th-Century Middle East, by the University of California Press (2022). Dr. Rock-Singer has also published ten articles in peer reviewed journals, including The International Journal of Middle East Studies, The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, The Muslim World, and Islamic Law and Society, where he currently serves as a Book Review Editor and Associate Editor. He is currently at work on a monograph exploring the relationship between Islam and Politics in Mandatory Palestine.

Rock-Singer Salafi Piety Flier