Islam, Charity, and Activism
Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen
Publication Year: 2004
Throughout the Middle East, Islamist charities and social welfare organizations play a major role in addressing the socioeconomic needs of Muslim societies, independently of the state. Through case studies of Islamic medical clinics in Egypt, the Islamic Center Charity Society in Jordan, and the Islah Women's Charitable Society in Yemen, Janine A. Clark examines the structure and dynamics of moderate Islamic institutions and their social and political impact. Questioning the widespread assumption that such organizations primarily serve the poorer classes, Clark argues that these organizations in fact are run by and for the middle class. Rather than the vertical recruitment or mobilization of the poor that they are often presumed to promote, Islamic social institutions play an important role in strengthening social networks that bind middle-class professionals, volunteers, and clients. Ties of solidarity that develop along these horizontal lines foster the development of new social networks and the diffusion of new ideas.
Published by: Indiana University Press
List of Tables and Charts
Preface and Acknowledgments
This book originated from a Ph.D. thesis on Egypt and slowly expanded to include two more case studies, those of Yemen and Jordan. It has thus been approximately a ten-year effort, during which time I have relied on many institutions and people. I am indebted to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Ardmore,...
1. Islamic Social Institutions, Social Movement Theory, and the Middle Classes
My first contact with an Islamic social institution (ISI) was a health clinic located in a relatively wealthy but crowded part of Cairo. After I was misdiagnosed by the private doctors I had visited, an Egyptian friend insisted I go to the nearby Islamic medical clinic. My friend had heard the clinic was new and clean and that it had excellent doctors and facilities.
2. Islamic Medical Clinics in Cairo: The Operational Imperatives of ISIs and the Role of Middle-Class Networks
As with most researchers and journalists in Egypt, the Mustafa Mahmoud medical clinic was the first clinic in which I conducted interviews. Situated in a commanding position on a major thoroughfare in the wealthy Cairene district of Mohandessin, the Mustafa Mahmoud clinic is one of the largest, most impressive, and most famous Islamic clinics in...
3. The Islamic Center Charity Society in Jordan: The Benefits to the Middle Class
Located in the arid flat outskirts of the northern city of Mafraq is a regional branch of the Islamic Center Charity Society (ICCS), Jordan’s largest ISI. I drove to Mafraq from Amman on a glorious sunny day and spent an extremely pleasant afternoon with the director of an active and caring group of teachers, other employees, and volunteers. As was apparent...
4. The Islah Charitable Society in Yemen: Women’s Social Networks, Charity, and Da'wa
Each week in Sana`a, a fairly unnoticeable yet impressive event takes place. Pouring into the basement of the mosque attached to the Islah Charitable Society’s main headquarters, more than 200 women of all ages gather for a lecture by a prominent shaykh on the Qur´an or lessons integral to Islam. I attended this event for the first time after having been in Yemen...
5. The Significance of Being Middle Class
The three case studies in this book strongly challenge the concept of Middle East exceptionalism that prevails in political, social, and economic analyses of the region. In all three cases we find ample evidence that social movements in the Middle East, and specifically Islamist movements, behave as social movements do elsewhere. ISIs are embedded in a complex...
Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 figures, 1 index
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: Indiana Series in Middle East Studies
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