Islamic Charity, Reformism, and the Welfare State in India

12:00 pm on Friday, April 19, 2013
1:30 pm on Friday, April 19, 2013
Chris Taylor, BU Anthropology Grad Student The growing poverty among Indian Muslims, starkly visible in the statistical gaze of recent government reports, is an increasingly discussed concern for many Islamic reformists. Some see this as evidence that Muslims are neglecting zakat (almsgiving) and thus their faith. These contemporary Islamic social welfare practitioners are willing – even insistent – on close engagement with the non-Islamic state in India. In this way, I argue, these 'ulama (Muslim clergy) are making a break from earlier Islamic reformist movements such as Deoband, Jamaat-e Islami, or the Tablighi Jamaat who avoided the secular state. In this talk, I explore the irony that, in the bureaucracy of India’s social democratic state and its capability for statistical Foucaudian biopower, Muslims may have acquired an ally in this aspect of their efforts for Islamic revival.