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This book is the fruit of twenty years’ reflection on Islamic charities, both in practical terms and as a key to understand the crisis in contemporary Islam. On the one hand Islam is undervalued as a global moral and political force whose admirable qualities are exemplified in its strong tradition of charitable giving. On the other hand, it suffers from a crisis of authority that cannot be blamed entirely on the history of colonialism and stigmatization to which Muslims have undoubtedly been subjected – most recently, as a result of the "war on terror". The book consists of seventeen previously published chapters, with a general Introduction and new prefatory material for each chapter. The first nine chapters review the current situation of Islamic charities from many different viewpoints – theological, historical, diplomatic, legal, sociological and ethnographic – with first-hand data from the United States, Britain, Israel–Palestine, Mali and Indonesia. Chapters 10 to 17 expand the coverage to explore the potential for a twenty-first century "Islamic humanism" that would be devised by Muslims in the light of the human sciences and institutionalized throughout the Muslim world. This means addressing contentious topics such as religious toleration and the meaning of jihad. The intended readership includes academics and students at all levels, professionals concerned with aid and development, and all who have an interest in the future of Islam.

A leap of faith

The tendency among ethnic minority Muslim immigrant communities in Europe towards identification with Islam as a marker of identity is discussed in an array of studies, but seldom have they explained sufficiently how the change took place. Islam and Identity Politics among British-Bangladeshis: A Leap of Faith probes the causes of and conditions for the preference of the members of the British-Bangladeshi community for a religion-based identity vis-à-vis ethnicity-based identity, and the influence of Islamists in shaping the discourse. It also examines whether this salience of Muslim identity is a precursor to a new variant of diasporic Islam. Islam and Identity Politics delves into the micro-level dynamics, the internal and external factors and the role of the state and locates these within the broad framework of Muslim identity and Islamism, citizenship and the future of multiculturalism in Europe.

This review of Amelia Fauzia’s Faith and the State: A history of Islamic philanthropy in Indonesia (Brill, 2013) was originally published in the Asian Journal of Social Science 42: 1–2 (2014), 165–7. An angle for comparative historical research is proposed here. To what extent did Christian institutions affect the

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times

This review of Michael Cook’s Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic case in comparative perspective (Princeton University Press, 2014) and Akeel Bilgrami’s Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Harvard University Press, 2014) was published in the Times Literary Supplement on 10 September 2014 under the heading ‘What

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times
The internal factors

3 Identity, Islamism and politics: the internal factors A nalytical and ethnographic studies about the British-Bangladeshi community conducted around the turn of the twentieth century1 and the events described in Chapter 2 demonstrate that a Muslim identity has gained salience among a section of British-Bangladeshis, especially the younger generation. ‘More and more young Bengalis now identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims rather than as Bengali or Bangladeshi,’ concluded Gardner and Shukur in 1994.2 Until the late 1980s, the Bengali ethnic identity

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
The state as actor

4 Identity, Islamism and politics: the state as actor T he state plays a pivotal, perhaps the central role, in ethnic identity politics, and this is truer for welfare states like Britain. Whilst the members of the ethnic community, especially their leaders, define the parameters of the group identity, instrumentalize these features through various means and claim the representation, the state provides the legitimacy to these identities within the social and political realms. Werbner has aptly described the actions of community members and actions of the state

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis

As noted in the Introduction, there is a small research literature on the question of ‘cultural proximity’. My own attempts to explore it – based on field visits to Mali and Aceh – have partly confirmed the thesis that Islamic NGOs can, on occasion, benefit from a privileged relationship with beneficiaries in Muslim countries

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times

This personal account of the Swiss government funded mediation or conflict resolution project (2005–13) was first published in Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the ‘Age of Terror’ and Beyond , edited by Robert Lacey and myself (Gerlach Press, 2014). Special attention is given here to the Gulf

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times

Pennsylvania, 2014). My contribution appeared as the opening chapter in a volume published later that year, Understanding Islamic Charities , edited by Jon B. Alterman and Karin von Hippel. It is an overview which I still stand by in 2015 despite all the geopolitical changes since 2007. A theme that occurs elsewhere in this book is the unsatisfactory state of academic

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times
The case of post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh

was extended in September 2014, amid sharp controversy. The main motivation for the article (first published in the online Journal of Humanitarian Assistance ), based on a visit in 2007, was to explore what special contributions Islamic charities can make in majority Muslim countries. As in the case of Mali, the finding was guardedly positive. An

in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times