restricted access Giving Practices in Islamic Societies

Charity is an integral part of Muslim life at every level of society, in every era, and across the entire lifespan of individuals. Obligatory alms and voluntary donations are acts that concern all Muslims. Charitable endowments have sustained and promoted Muslim cultural and social institutions alike. Unhappily, Muslim charity has received some very bad press since September 11, 2001, with analysts and observers frequently emphasizing the links between charity and extremist violence. Few have stopped to consider seriously why it is that the discourse and practice of charity are so prominent in Muslim communities, historically and today. Yet even a brief inquiry reveals an entire world of belief and practice in which giving is fundamental. In the varying historical circumstances of Muslim states and societies, giving has been part of a Maussean system of entitlement and obligation, creating and reflecting networks of responsibility and dependence.