An important shift is occurring in the Muslim world, as traditional forms of Islamic almsgiving give way to the utilization of Islamic charity for “development” and effective poverty-alleviation. This lecture describes the rise of such “new” Islamic charities in India. Taylor discusses, for example, how a Muslim preacher from the madrasa at Deoband exhorts Muslims to give charity as the Prophet Muhammad did, even as he invents new forms of disbursing charity that resemble modern NGOs. Taylor argues that scholars need to re-think their analyses of zakat – one of the five pillars of Islam – and its place in economy and society. Going beyond prior studies on Islamic charity as merely a religious obligation, a welfare “safety net”, or the heart of Islam’s moral economy, this lecture will provide evidence of the increasing articulation between today’s liberalizing market economies and Islam.
Chris Taylor is a PhD candidate at Boston University and National Science Foundation fellow. He lived and performed research in Lucknow, India from 2012-2013. His dissertation is based on six Islamic social welfare associations including one of India’s largest Islamic seminaries, the madrasa of Nadwat ul ‘Ulama.
Recorded on March 4, 2014