Muslim FBOs, Charity and Development. Karama Solidarity and The Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium

Master's Thesis, 2019

53 Pages, Grade: 12


Table of Contents



Note on Translation

List of Acronyms

Chapter I
1.1 Introduction
1.2.1 Research area
1.2.2 Study Population
1.3 Methodological tasks
1.3.1 Interviews and survey
1.3.2 Deep hanging out
1.3.3 Volunteering
1.4 Positionality
1.5 Limitation of the study

Chapter II - Conceptual Framework
2.1 Meaning and genealogy of ‘charity’ in the context of Abrahamic religions
2.2 Charity as an act of giving
2.3 Islamic forms of charity
2.3.1 Waqf (Voluntary and Perpetual Charity
2.3.2 Zakat (Obligatory Charity)
2.3.4 Sadakah (Voluntary Charity)
2.4 What are Faith Based Organizations?
2.6 Islamic Humanitarianism
2.7 Dependency Theory

Chapter III
3.1 Muslim FBOs landscape in Brussels
3.1.1 Karama Solidarity (Previously known as Islamic Relief Belgium)
3.1.2 Islamic Center (known also as the Brussels Grand Mosque)

Chapter IV
4.1 The Islamic Community Engagement with FBOs
4.2 Community participation with FBOs
4.3 Social mobility and RyanAir -effect
4.4. Charity Practice and Media-Effect




Muslim FBOs, Charity and Development – Karama Solidairty and The Islamic cultural center of Belgium


Charity is one of Islam’s five pillars representing the concept of Islamic humanitarianism, charity is considered an act of giving that generates reciprocity; the cycle of reciprocity in the context of Muslim almsgiving is described under different giving-act context. This act, may also be related to dependency theory. However, any act of giving might create a cyclical relationship between donors and recipients that may, in fact, generate a cycle of dependency.

It is noticed, however, that while the literature of development discourse does not focus on the role of Muslim charities, Islamic forms of charity, in turn, are claimed to play an important role in poverty alleviation efforts throughout history. Muslim faith based organization use the Islamic charities to fund their developmental and humanitarian projects; the Muslim community engages with Muslim Faith Based organizations through the charitable practice.

Keywords: Charity, humanitarianism, Islam, Dependency, Faith Based Organizations, Development, Brussels, NGOs


Firstly, I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Nadia Fadil, for her assistance and direction in writing this paper. I would like to offer thanks to the alumni of CADES for their dedication and quality education. Furthermore, I thank the participants and interviewees who gave me their valuable time. Also, I am highly indebted to the staff members of Karama Solidarity and the Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium for their cooperation and support. Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to VLIR-UOS for funding my postgraduate studies at KU Leuven.

Note on Translation

- Quranic Verses’ translation were taken from Sahih International
- Hadith translation were taken from Sahih al-Bukhari (Sahih, 2018) & Sahih Muslim (Siddiqui, 2009)
- Majority of the interviews were conducted in Arabic language and translated into English

List of Figures

Figure 1. research area

Figure 2. Maqasid al-Shari’ah Framework

Figure 3. The landscape and Muslim FBOs in Brussels

Figure 4 Islamic Center signboard “

Figure 5. Zakat and Sabakah Boxes in the Islamic center

Figure 6. The worthiest targets of receiving Charity

Figure 7. Paying Charity to FBOs, Mosques or to individuals

List of Acronyms

BNA: Basic Needs Approach

FBOs: faith based organizations

HFI: Human Freedom Index

IHL: International Humanitarian Law

IRW: Islamic Relief Worldwide

IsDB: Islamic Development Bank

KS: Karama solidarity

MA: Makasid Alsharia - stands for the purposes of Islamic law

NGOs: non-governmental organizations

OIC: Organization of Islamic Cooperation

SCA: Sen’s Capability Approach

Chapter I

1.1 Introduction

In the 1960s the Belgian authorities issued a massive call for foreign labor and the Moroccans were the first to answer this call. Thus, the country, witnessed a substantial growth in the Muslim population (Torrekens, 2007). Torrekens believes that this immense growth in population is linked to several factors:

The natural birth cycle, grouping of families as stipulated in the agreements and encouraged by the Belgian authorities to promote integration, marriage of Belgian Muslims (men and women) with partners from the country of origin, political refugees, conversions, illegal immigration, etc. (Ibid, P.1)

However, according to Kymlicka (1995), minorities tend to form cultural associations in order to maintain their ethnic and cultural identity and also to produce a platform from which to advocate for their rights, Torrekens (2007) also observes s that the Muslims in Belgium have created cultural associations to “promote the culture of their country of origin” (P.6). After several years, these Islamic associations, Torrekens argues, have been created to aid Muslims internally (in Belgium) and externally through international aid. These were the first steps that initiated the emergence of Muslim FBOs in Belgium.

The historiography of development discourse and practice, being mostly written from the perspective of the West, tends not to address the role of Islamic charity organizations in poverty alleviation efforts. For example, in her historical account of modern development practice, Rosalind Eyben (2014) traces its beginning to Christian missionary work in the colonies, such as the one exemplified by the Scandinavian Lutheran Church in Africa and by the emergence of other Christian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like Catholic Relief Services (US), Caritas (Germany) and Christian Aid. This is not to say that her representation is entirely inaccurate as, indeed, with the fall of the Islamic Empire and the advent of colonialism the operations and visibility of Islamic charity institutions dwindled considerably (Nadzri, 2012). Only recently has the study of globalization, by focusing on transnational religious networks and diasporas organized around faith, given Islamic charity a more prominent place in the development and anthropology literature.

In this thesis I describe the current Islamic charity landscape in Brussels. I address the guiding principles and Modus Operandi of two Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) representative of this landscape. I conduct the analysis partly against the conceptual backdrop of development studies, including issues such as notions of basic needs, forms of participation, whether emergency relief and poverty alleviation are still the main objectives or whether there has been a move towards other approaches and strategies like empowerment, capacity building and advocacy. Some issues explored include how much Zakat, Sadakah and Waqf are invoked as guiding principles in the actual practice of charity in the above described context.

My aim is to (1) estimate the degree engagement of the Muslim community with prominent FBOs, namely, Karama Solidarity organization and the Islamic cultural center of Belgium, and on how such engagement actualizes crucial social solidarity, (2) examining the importance of charity among the Muslim community, and the extent in which it figures as a central principle in Muslim FBOs and amongst Muslims themselves. (3) what are the possible effects on charity in practice? And (4) Where is the bulk of charity is going to; Brussels or abroad? Is the latter influenced by changes in the international scene such as the present refugee crisis or the situation in, for instance, Yemen, Palestine or Syria? Crucially, I look into the interaction of the local Muslim community with these organizations: how do they help, why, how they appraise the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of these organizations.

1.2 Methodology

The investigation was predominantly qualitative as the two main research tasks conducted were literature consultation involving academic publications, media reports, ethnographic fieldwork involving participant observation, interviews and a quantitative survey. General literature on anthropology and development discourses, paradigms and practice were consulted as well as literature regarding the history of the Muslim diaspora in Brussels.

1.2.1 Research area

The study was conducted in Brussels in various neighborhoods or municipalities, specifically in Molenbeek Saint Jean, Saint Josse Ten Noode and Anderlecht, where interviewees were mainly Muslims. The choice of location was based on its rich history of Belgian Muslims and as a site of institutions that preserve records pertaining to the financing of various Muslim FBOs.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Editorial Note: This figure was deleted due ti copyright issues

Figure 1. research area, Map data (Google, 2018)

1.2.2 Study Population

Most of my respondents were Muslims residing in Brussels, mostly of Moroccans and Turkish origins, including FBOs managers, staff, and volunteers working for the two selected organizations. There was also a substantial Muslim population with either no professional or semi-professional engagement with Muslim organizations. A very small minority of respondents were non- Muslims beneficiaries\donors of the FBOs whom I encountered during fieldwork. The selection of Muslim participants was based on the need for respondents to be conversant in Islamic principles of charity, familiar with Islamic charities’ activities and familiar with the situations and scenarios requiring Islamic charitable interventions in Brussels or abroad.

1.3 Methodological tasks

1.3.1 Interviews and survey

Interviews took a place in Brussels in various municipalities, namely, Molenbeek Saint Jean, Saint Josse Ten Noode and Anderlecht. The respondents of the interviews and the survey were one hundred individuals, aged between nineteen and fifty-two, forty-two of them were females: These were randomly selected Muslims residents, volunteers and staff members of Karama Solidarity and the Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium (hereafter referred to as the Islamic center). The interviews occurred during November and December 2017; January, February and May 2018. The interviews used both open-ended and closed questions, the language of interviewing was mainly Arabic and in few cases English. Answers were recorded as audio files and in writing (transcripts and in situ notes). Interviews with staff members lasted for nearly 16 minutes, as they were mainly open questions, interviews with residents (survey questions) lasted approximately 6 minutes, due to the use of a questionnaire. ( See appendix P. )

1.3.2 Deep hanging out

I attended Karama solidarity events and meetings in order to gain background on how they function ordinarily, day to day, but also on how they manage their current and upcoming projects. The same applies to the Islamic Center (which also acts as a secondary source of information regarding the types of Islamic charity). During the meetings I made the acquaintance of those with whom I socialized subsequently and in informal contexts where we discussed politics, religion as well as the discipline, status and function of anthropology. Most importantly, I listened to their views regarding helping the poor and the refugees and how they understood the notion of development and Islamic Humanitarianism.

1.3.3 Volunteering

I Volunteered for Karama Solidarity on a number of occasions, in which I also observed the general atmosphere of the organization and met other volunteers. Thus, my social network expanded considerably during this time I served as a volunteer.

1.4 Positionality

I believe that my positionality in this paper holds a significant part, one could argue that it might be biased, however, it still crucial to clarify my position within my thesis’ context in order to ensure the credibility of the findings.

Firstly, I grew up in Palestine in a Muslim family, my beginnings with NGOs was through volunteering, then after I graduated from college (BA degree in Education), I was offered a full-time job, as a translator and later as a project coordinator at one of the organizations for which I volunteered. This organization can in fact be defined as a Muslim, faith-based organization (FBO); I myself had never heard of the term FBO before joining this Master, CADES; as we used to describe the organization as a charitable organization and in some instances as an NGO. Secondly, choosing to study Muslim organizations in Brussels stems from my experience and my religious beliefs. However, as an anthropologist, I was conscious of my need to adopt, to whatever extent possible, the perspective of an outsider, and managed to neutralize my religious identity during my fieldwork with the chosen FBOs.

1.5 Limitation of the study

At the start of my fieldwork, as I speak only Arabic and English, I was concerned that language could be an obstacle, particularly when observing in the field; however, as the majority of my interviews were conducted in Arabic, language differences were unproblematic. Some of the events I attended at Karama Solidarity were conducted in French, but some of the attendees volunteered to translate for me.

On the other hand, I found that trust was the main issue which I would face during my fieldwork, and it was the reason I had a hard time finding an organization to work with at the first place, that is not to say that I have not faced trust issues within the organizations I worked with, as indeed it was sometimes difficult for me to obtain the needed data for my research. However, at the beginning of my search for an organization to work with, I found an interesting NGO with a Muslim background in Brussels, at which one of the employees first said they were busy, but then after I promised to be helpful, he clearly and more directly stated they were not interested in working with an outsider, especially the ‘so-called’ researchers. It was the first moment in my life that I felt I was under suspicion as a ‘spy’. Nevertheless, I did not take it as a personal affront, and on later the same day, after insisting, I managed to meet the director of the organization to seek clarification. He explained to me the following:

They had, at one point, been suspected of supporting terrorism, and consequently, their office was closed for a long period of time, until they were found not guilty; hence, it is hard for them now to trust outsiders, as he believes some researchers manipulate their findings to support a contrary agenda, or they might not actually be what they claim. He apologized to me; I said Asslamu Alikom and left. Trust-issues, then, constitute both the limitations of my study and, ironically, my first significant findings in the field.

The organization members with whom I worked in the course of my thesis preparation welcomed me with open hearts, but as days passed their trust in me seemed to diminish. Nevertheless, they remained helpful to some extent.

Chapter II - Conceptual Framework

2.1 Meaning and genealogy of ‘charity’ in the context of Abrahamic religions

At present ‘charity’ is commonly defined as almsgiving and good works. It is widely used in English as synonymous with the secular practice of philanthropy but awareness of its religious origins remains vivid, if only because Euro-American religious institutions have historically been and continue to be visible charity practitioners who still influence the charity and humanitarian aid discourse. Charity’s Latin root caritas was used to translate the Greek New Testament word agape - spiritual love between God and humanity and of fellow humans (Cfr Benthall & Bellion, 2009; Benthall ,2017; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2016). Benthall & Bellion (2009) has noted that the English and Latin words, caritas and agape, does not always sit comfortably with Muslim scholars as an adequate label for Islamic practices of wealth sharing and good works.

For the ancient Greeks philanthropy was ‘love of the principle of humanity’ but the term appears to have shared a similar fate as agape (transmuting into charity) as during the Enlightenment the act of public benefaction fused with its original, more abstract meaning (Benthall, 2017). This love of God and/or love of fellow humans’ component that underlies the acts of giving and lending a hand, can and has been invoked to counter strictly utilitarian interpretations of charity and philanthropy that reduce it to a gift-giving practice exclusively characterized by Maussian indebtedness, reciprocity and self-interest (expectations of a heavenly and or earthly reward), or reduce it to a mechanism of governance that perpetuates the status quo and privileges of donors while disempowering and appeasing the poor. (Benthall & Bellion, 2009; Benthall, 2017).

As for the genealogy of specifically Muslim charity, accounts by Orientalists in the 19th and early 20th century indicate the possible existence of a pre-Islamic, Arabic antecedent; e.g. amongst Bedouins (Cfr Benthall & Bellion, 2009), but what truly stands out is the vast common ground in terms of moral tenets, parables and ceremonial rituals shared by the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) concerning charitable practices: “as for Islamic charity, there was a clear debt to Hebraic ethics and laws of tithing” (Ibid, p.19), while all three depart from the core principle that all wealth belongs to God (Ibid).

2.2 Charity as an act of giving

While unpacking the act of giving in the context of gift economies, in his book Essai Sur Le Don - The Gift (1925), Marcel Mauss posits that it plays a crucial role in building sociability as it creates a reciprocal cycle. However, it has been noted that such cycle may actually also strain social relations inasmuch as the gift cannot always be returned (Kochuyt, 2009). In line with this discussion, we could ask whether the different forms of Islamic charity include the obligation of reciprocity and how this reciprocity is performed. To answer this question, I analyze some of the concerned Quranic texts and Hadiths1:

To parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give charity. (Quran, 2:83)

Islamic charity was imposed by God on Muslims and the rewards of giving charity in Islam can be of a heavenly nature as the following Hadith states: “Every man will be in the shade of his charity on the Day of Resurrection”. Other Hadith states that paying charity eliminate sins just as water extinguishes fire. Charity can be also earthly rewarded as another Hadith says “Treat your sick by means of charity”, the Hadith here states, that giving alms works as a supporting-medicine to treat illnesses, the donor’s illness or their beloved ones as a reward for the act of giving. Thus, the rewards of almsgiving in Islam were promised by god and the giver does not expect beneficiaries to pay back by any means; the expectation of reciprocity, at least in theory, disappears.

However, I argue that Maussian reciprocal rules also apply to almsgiving in Islam but in a different context. When Muslims give alms, they do it for the satisfaction of God and the rewards promised. The person on the receiving end is not obliged to repay the amount in any way, but God will reward the giver, and this is what Kochuyt (2009) calls the ‘Triadic reciprocity’: the faithful give charity for the satisfaction of God, the poor receive it as a gift from God (to which they must be thankful) and God rewards the giving through earthly and or heavenly blessings. Within this ‘Triadic reciprocity’ in Islamic charities, Benthal & Bellion (2009) note that the giver purifies himself from selfishness and greediness as well as his wealth; the receiver, on the other hand, accepts what is offered and is, in turn, expected to purify his soul “from jealousy and hatred of the well off” (ibid, p.9).

One can sense here a very radical critique of charity as a form of dominance and of perpetuating the status quo, whereby the wealthy justify, assert and legitimize their wealth while the poor have to be content with accepting charity otherwise they are ungrateful. Van Leeuwen (1994) argues that the poor in preindustrial Europe had few choices in matters of charity: it was either mutiny, commit crimes etc. or accept the charity and be thankful. If they accepted the charity it would lead to behavior adjustments, Van Leeuwen contends, maintaining the social order , controlling the labor market, reducing the number of people in poverty, If the charity was not accepted or given, the adjustments outcomes will be reversed (Ibid). Thus, charity could act as a washing primordially unfair distribution of wealth and appeasing the poor by imposing on them social norms of gratitude.

2.3 Islamic forms of charity

In Islam, there are five pillars or practices a person must satisfy in order to become a believer: (1) the testimony (shahadah): commitment to belief in no God but Allah, (2) praying (salat), (3) paying obligatory charity (zakat), (4) fasting in Ramadan (sawm) and (5) pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj): for all the financially and physically capable Muslims (Hawting, 2017). Charity in Islam has three different forms, the above mentioned zakat as well as waqf, and sadakah, all claimed to be meant to help the poor and to achieve social justice (Ab Rahman et al., 2012). Only zakat is obligatory while waqf and sadakah are voluntary acts of giving.

2.3.1 Waqf (Voluntary and Perpetual Charity)

Waqf (plural: Awqaf) which in Arabic means literally ‘stopped or preserved’, in a religious context stands for perpetual almsgiving as a religious endowment of a property (Krafess, 2005), any property that was held as a Waqf cannot be sold, inherited or given, it becomes a perpetuity endowment. The donor of the Waqf usually defines what the Waqf will be used for (education, health care, Mosque, orphan’s sponsorship etc.) and after the endowment is made, it will be preserved for eternity as intended by the donor (Krafess, 2005; Sadeq, 2002). Kahf (2015) argues that the first Waqf in Islam was a Mosque built after Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD, and thus, Waqf was firstly used for the sake of God’s worship. Krafess claims that Waqf is applied to a wide range of socio-economic and humanitarian sectors including health and education. Indeed, Benthall & Bellion-Jourdan (2009) mention that Waqf played an important role during different Islamic caliphates periods; on the other hand, they note that some Western observers see Waqf, with its implicit meaning of ‘stopping’, as a paralyzing force vis a vis economic progress (ibid).

While I find it plausible to investigate whether the rules of Waqf, especially its emphasis on preservation and unchangeability of form, purpose and ownership are detrimental to socio-economic development, I argue, based on my own experience, that if a Waqf was made as a school - like the basic school where I studied in Palestine or a hospital, it would not immobilize the economy or negatively affect the social life but would act like a capacity building mechanism, which might plays a significant role in human development. However, if Waqf assigned to be a Mosque, which is usually the case in Palestine and Jordan (and most of Arab countries) as the people build Mosques believing that it is the most rewarded act of giving by God, it would have negative effects on economy since the money used in such endowments will have no returns or whatsoever besides, also, that the purpose cannot be changed under any circumstances.

I would argue that Waqf is not in principle any more harmful or beneficial than any other form of endowment including Western secular philanthropy. Waqf possible negative role (like any endowment) is the same as any philanthropic effort that is not based on careful consideration of the actual needs of the community. In the majority of countries of Muslim backgrounds such as, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey, the donors of\for Waqf usually identify the needs of the community without consulting experts. The previous mentioned countries have only made laws to monitor and supervise Waqf endowments but not to study the community needs (Tasdemir, 2014).

In her paper ‘Influence of the Islamic Law of WAQF on the Development of the Trust In England’, Monica Gaudiosi notes that the founding of Oxford University followed Waqf models in Jerusalem, Palestine (Gaudiosi, 1987; Koehler, 2010), and it was a Waqf endowment that built the school where I studied in Palestine.

The role of Waqf back in time, apparently, was more effective. In the contemporary world, especially in countries where Muslims are the majority of population, Waqf term is still active, that even in some of the Muslim countries, such as Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, Malaysia, they have a ministry to manage the properties of Waqf referred to usually as the ‘Ministry of Awqaf’ (Benthal and Bellion-Jourdan, 2009). The Ministry of Awqaf also manages the other forms of Islamic charities (Zakat and Sadakah). It is important to mention that Ministry of Awqaf differs from ‘Ministry of Religious Affairs’ since the latter is concerned, notes Imam Yousef Boulad[2], in dealing with all the matters of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) without involving the management of Waqf properties, Zakat or Sadakah.

Krafess (2005) argues that Muslim FBOs, such as Islamic Relief, came to realize the importance of Waqf in implementing sustainable development projects, by inviting the donors to pay a share to be invested on a humanitarian project selected by the donors themselves. By carrying out the Waqf mechanism in the developmental sector, it is argued that Waqf helped enhancing the durability of humanitarian intervention (Ibid). Indeed, as recently the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) established a waqf fund for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, 2018). One critique could be that Islamic developmental organizations do not deliver or advertise the donors about the benefits of Waqf Mechanism in such durable projects, instead they focus more on Zakat and Sadakah forms of charity. As since Sadakah and Zakat are the most practiced form of charities in Islam, thus, it makes sense that Muslim NGOs and FBOs will focus more on these forms.

2.3.2 Zakat (Obligatory Charity)

And establish prayer and give zakat and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience] (Quran, 2:43).

Zakat (or Zakah), stands for ‘purification’, considered the mandatory form of almsgiving mandated by God. As mentioned previously, Zakat is the third pillar of Islam, which is actually what makes it mandatory. Zakat is mentioned in Quran, along with Salat (praying), on thirty different verses (Schaeublin, 2014). This intertwining of praying and almsgiving is indicative of the spiritual significance of charity through Zakat. Following I proceed to analyze some Quranic verses and Hadiths in a bid to realize who are the worthiest targets of this form of obligatory almsgiving. The following Quranic text summarizes the answer of the previous question:

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allah. (Quran, 9:60)

From the verse it can be understood that the poor, the needy, those in debt, the enslaved, etc.. are the people who mostly deserve receiving Zakat, other segments in the verse are difficult for the reader to understand or at least might be interpreted in a wrong way. For instance, “bringing hearts together [for Islam ]” means that the new converts to Islam have superior right in Zakat money (Samad & Glenn, 2010; Benthall, 1999); Johari et al., (2013) argues that the new converts, when receiving Zakat, it fills their hearts with guidance and keep them away from being a ‘cannon fodder’ in the hand of extremists who might target the new converts seeing them as a vulnerable Muslims who do not understand the religion well yet.

For an act so intertwined in the Quran with the pathos-filled act of praying, Zakat is, curiously, meticulously measured. The well-off and capable are obliged to give up 2.5% of their wealth to persons living in poverty (Gamon and Tagoranao, 2018; Samad & Glenn, 2010). Imam Abdelhadi2, interviewed during fieldwork in Brussels, explained that Zakat was obliged by God on the rich and that in so doing God institutes the right of the poor to some of the rich people’s wealth; he quotes verse (51:19) from Quran: “And from their properties was [given] the right of the [needy] petitioner and the deprived”. Abdelhadi explains, the Muslim must have a minimum net worth, the Nissab. When a Muslim’s savings reaches the Nissab threshold and one lunar year passes, Abdelhadi states, then Zakat becomes obligatory.

Nowadays, Nissab equals 85g or more of gold, the amount of payable Zakat is 2.5% of Nisaab. Simply put, when a Muslim has savings equivalent to 85g or more of gold for over a lunar year, he is obliged to pay 2.5% of his wealth to the needy.

However, since only Muslims pay the Zakat, does the non-Muslims poor have the right to benefit from it? There are conflicting views on whether Zakat is conditional on religious affiliation. Benthall & Bellion (2009) cite the Egyptian scholar Uthman Hussian Abdu-Allah who states that “recipients of Zakat must be Muslims” (p.10), and the leading Islamic scholar (Al-Khayyat), who told Benthall that the word ‘Al-Fugra’a; the poor’ means all the poor, the inclusivity being contained in the article ‘al’. Hashim et al., (2017) after analyzing Quran, Hadiths and various schools of Islamic law, concludes that the prophet Muhammad offered zakat to non-Muslims for different reasons and that this practice was upheld by subsequent Caliphates; however, different schools of Islamic law have still different views on the matter till today.

The other forms of Islamic charity beneficiaries namely, Waqf and Sadakah, are different. Muslims and non-Muslims have the right to benefit from those forms of charity. (Bensaid et al., 2013; Ambrose et al., 2015).

2.3.4 Sadakah (Voluntary Charity)

In contrast to Zakat, Sadakah is not mandatory, but a voluntary act of giving. The Arabic root of Sadakah is ‘sediq’, which means sincerity. Lambarraa & Riener (2012) explain Sadakah as truthfulness in faith. Thus, paying Sadakah represents sincerity in faith.

Quran, however, encourages Muslims to pay Sadakah: “...the charitable men (Mutasadekon) and charitable women (Mutasadekat)...for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward” (33:35); God promises those who pay Sadakah to erase their sins. Sadakah however, is not only monetary almsgiving, unlike Zakat, it can be also any good non-monetary act as the following Hadiths state:

“Your smile for your brother is Sadakah (charity)” “It is also Sadakah (charity) to utter a good word”

Along with monetary almsgiving. other hadiths describe that smiling and saying good words to each other, planting trees, giving water to the thirsty (mankind and all other creatures) and removing harm from the streets are also forms of Sadakah.

Various studies point at the positive effects of Islamic forms of charity, if well-used and applied on socioeconomic development at different levels, from poverty reduction strategies to human development such as (Mannan, 1983; 1989); (Sadeq, 1980; 1989; 2002); (Ibrahim, 2015). It appears that in many Muslim countries, apart from Malaysia, Islamic forms of charity have not been actualized through incorporation into the development discourse and practice. Khan (2001), for instance, concluded that Bangladesh has impressive initiatives of poverty reduction projects such as “micro-credit operation, social safety nets, cash transfers etc” (p.122), yet, the government does no incorporate Islamic charity concepts such as Zakat and Waqf. Khan argues that those Islamic charitable instruments can play an effective role in poverty alleviation efforts in Bangladesh if implemented by the concerned authorities.

Muslim FBOs, on the other hand, internalized and implemented the principal doctrines of Islamic charity in their fundraising projects, so what are these organizations and how they are defined in the context of development?

2.4 What are Faith Based Organizations?

It is important to understand from the outset that Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) are considered agencies of the humanitarian sector. Palmer (2011) argues that the humanitarian sector has a tendency to evade the involvement with religion due to the potential dangers of perceived discrimination and partiality. Clarke (2008), on the other hand, notes that the humanitarian agencies have recently become more aware of the importance of religion in providing aid to the beneficiaries. Those humanitarian agencies that have aligned themselves with religion or even to somewhat less well-institutionalized spiritual traditions, become known as FBOs (Thomas, 2005. as cited in Palmer, 2011).


1 The Sayings of Prophet Muhammad

2 mam at the Palestinian ministry of Awqaf, interviewed over a phone call on October 2, 2018.

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Muslim FBOs, Charity and Development. Karama Solidarity and The Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium
Leuven Catholic University
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muslim, center, cultural, islamic, solidarity, karama, development, charity, fbos, belgium
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Yousuf Daas (Author), 2019, Muslim FBOs, Charity and Development. Karama Solidarity and The Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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