I am a cultural sociologist focusing primarily on Islam and social theory.
I work in three main registers: American Islam, social theory, and the Muslim intellectual traditions. My book, Finding Mecca in America: How Islam is Becoming an American Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2012) explores how Islam is articulated as an American religion (see below for more on Finding Mecca).
My work in social theory is driven by a sense that contemporary sociology is lacking a degree of self-awareness and can be revitalized by reconnecting it with its philosophical presuppositions. Towards this end, I read widely in both sociology and philosophy, placing particular emphasis on the works of Simmel, Heidegger, and Bourdieu.
I also see great value in exploring the intersections and resonances of Western and Islamic philosophy and social thought. Within the Muslim intellectual tradition, I am interested particularly in the works of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1876-1960).
I am currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at John Jay College, City University of New York. I teach courses on social theory and seminars on a variety of topics. I have designed and taught graduate- and undergraduate-level courses on Islamophobia, “Rethinking Violence,” and “Social Theory and Islam,” among others.
Finding Mecca in America: How Islam is Becoming an American Religion, University of Chicago Press, 2012.
“Homeland Insecurity: How Immigrant Muslims Naturalize America in Islam,” Comparative Studies in Society and History (53:3), 2011.
“Being Targeted, Being Recognized: The Impact of 9/11 on Arab and Muslim Americans,” Contemporary Sociology (40:2), 2011 [review essay].
“Muslim Ethnic Comedy: Inversions of Islamophobia,” in Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend, A. Shryock, (ed.), Indiana University Press, 2010.
“Said Nursi’s Moral Philosophy,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (19:1), January 2008.
“Conversion out of Islam: A Study of Conversion Narratives of Former Muslims” (with M. Khalil) The Muslim World, January 2007.
“Ummah and Empire: Global Formations after Nation,” pp.313-327, in Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.
click here for my CV
272 pages | 10 halftones, 6 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2012
Finding Mecca in America
HOW ISLAM IS BECOMING AN AMERICAN RELIGION
In this book, Mucahit Bilici traces American Muslims’ progress from outsiders to natives and from immigrants to citizens. Drawing on the philosophies of Simmel and Heidegger, Bilici develops a novel sociological approach and offers insights into the civil rights activities of Muslim Americans, their increasing efforts at interfaith dialogue, and the recent phenomenon of Muslim ethnic comedy. Theoretically sophisticated,Finding Mecca in America is both a portrait of American Islam and a groundbreaking study of what it means to feel at home.
The events of 9/11 had a profound impact on American society, but they had an even more lasting effect on Muslims living in the United States. Once practically invisible, they suddenly found themselves overexposed. By describing how Islam in America began as a strange cultural object and is gradually sinking into familiarity,Finding Mecca in America illuminates the growing relationship between Islam and American culture as Muslims find a homeland in America. Rich in ethnographic detail, the book is an up-close account of how Islam takes its American shape.
Robert Wuthnow | author of America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity
"Interpretations of Muslim assimilation have gravitated between two arguments: that Muslims will remain as permanent outsiders or that Muslims will blend in with little difficulty at all. Mucahit Bilici demonstrates how wanting these arguments are. Finding Mecca in America takes us into the uncharted territory of what it is actually like to be Muslim immigrants in the United States. I am especially impressed by the study’s theoretical depth and empirical insights."
José Casanova | Georgetown University
“A work of considerable originality, Mucahit Bilici offers a well crafted and insightful analysis of the complex process of integration that Muslim immigrants face in the United States since 9/11. Bilici’s look at Islam as a religion in the American system is rich and rewarding.”
Christian Smith | Center for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Notre Dame
“A very insightful and important book that helps us think better about a badly understudied subject of immense importance, the meaning of Muslims in America. Bilici’s insights help to break through simplistic stereotypes and deepen our understanding of Islam in the United States, while expanding our imagination concerning the presences of minority religions in a Christian/secular nation.”
Eboo Patel | President, Interfaith Youth Core and author of Sacred Ground
"Finding Mecca in America weaves social theory and concrete ethnography into a significant contribution on Muslims in the United States, illuminating broader questions about the integration of minority and immigrant groups along the way. This is an important work and a joy to read."