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Disconnected Accountabilities


Schaeublin, Emanuel (2020). Disconnected Accountabilities. Journal of Muslim Philanthropy & Civil Society, 4(2):28-60.

Abstract

Zakat, the obligation to look after people in need by giving them a share of the wealth flowing through society, is recognized in the Islamic tradition as both a personal pious action and an institutional practice formalized by legal regimes. This dual character provides zakat with considerable malleability. Focusing on the trajectory of the “zakat committee” of Nablus since the 1970s, this article analyzes the different social and legal mechanisms that hold zakat committees in Palestine accountable. First, zakat committee members are under the constant observation of the local community and exposed to their ethical judgement. The local reputation of the zakat committee in Nablus depends on their integrity in running the committee and on their display of Muslim virtues in social interactions with others. Secondly, regional governments oversee zakat committees and hold them accountable. Finally, committee members have come under the increasing scrutiny of security surveillance and global policies of “combatting the financing of terrorism,” leading to forced closures in 2007. Due to the contested nature of political power in Nablus (the city has been under military occupation since 1967), these different mechanisms of accountability are sometimes remarkably disconnected. Notwithstanding, the malleability of zakat as a Muslim practice adapting to changing circumstances provides this form of care for people in need with tenacity.

Abstract

Zakat, the obligation to look after people in need by giving them a share of the wealth flowing through society, is recognized in the Islamic tradition as both a personal pious action and an institutional practice formalized by legal regimes. This dual character provides zakat with considerable malleability. Focusing on the trajectory of the “zakat committee” of Nablus since the 1970s, this article analyzes the different social and legal mechanisms that hold zakat committees in Palestine accountable. First, zakat committee members are under the constant observation of the local community and exposed to their ethical judgement. The local reputation of the zakat committee in Nablus depends on their integrity in running the committee and on their display of Muslim virtues in social interactions with others. Secondly, regional governments oversee zakat committees and hold them accountable. Finally, committee members have come under the increasing scrutiny of security surveillance and global policies of “combatting the financing of terrorism,” leading to forced closures in 2007. Due to the contested nature of political power in Nablus (the city has been under military occupation since 1967), these different mechanisms of accountability are sometimes remarkably disconnected. Notwithstanding, the malleability of zakat as a Muslim practice adapting to changing circumstances provides this form of care for people in need with tenacity.

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Additional indexing

Other titles:Institutionalizing Islamic giving in Nablus (Palestine)
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:November 2020
Deposited On:29 Jan 2021 13:19
Last Modified:29 Jan 2021 13:20
Publisher:Indiana University Press
ISSN:2572-6544
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2979/muslphilcivisoc.4.2.02
Official URL:https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/muslimphilanthropy/issue/view/98/17
Related URLs:https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/muslimphilanthropy

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