Ramadan Talks: Zakāt: Social Solidarity and Islamic Welfare

Date: Wednesday 19 April 2023
Time: 4:30 pm
Venue: Virtual

Islamic philanthropy has been experiencing much shifting terrain with respect to its role of promoting wellbeing. The idea of philanthropy does not have a single accepted definition but instead is expressed through many terms around the Islamic societies. Sometimes you may find the term ‘aṭā al-iğtima‘i (social giving) and takāful insāniyyah (humanitarian solidarity). Other times Muslims may refer to their charitable act with ‘aṭā khairiyyah (charitable giving), birr (righteousness or piety) or mabara (good works).

However, it is necessary to differentiate Islamic philanthropy from philanthropy in Muslim communities, which can be private giving for public purposes that may or may not be driven by a fulfilment of religious ordinances and which may also be organized by non-Muslim denominations living in Muslim societies.

Most of Islamic philanthropy is non-institutionalized and sometimes distributed through informal channels, and consequently it is very difficult to analyze scientifically. The purpose of this talk, on the other hand, is to examine zakāt, one of the traditional types of (compulsory) charitable giving in Islamic societies, in order to embrace a consistent geographical portion of Islamic countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, in which this formalized category of giving is employed.

About the speaker

Dr Omar Bortolazzi
Associate Professor of Political Science and Graduate Program Director of the Master in International Affairs at the American University in Dubai.
Dr. Bortolazzi’s research interests mainly focus on politics in the Middle East; philanthropy, civil society and political movements in the Arab world and in comparative perspective; cultural diplomacy and soft power; political violence.
Among his most recent publications: From ‘Brain Drain’ to ‘Capital Gain’. Indian Skilled Migration to the United Arab Emirates (with N. Khan), in Md Mizanur Rahman & Amr Al-Azm (eds),Social Change in the Gulf Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Springer, 2023; 2022]; Bortolazzi O. and Sarsar S. (eds), De-Orientalizing the Arab Uprisings. Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Special Issue). Vol. 45, No. 4. Summer 2022.

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