Islamic institution of charity and international disaster relief : a case study of Gift of the Givers Foundation in South Africa.
Gabralla, Abdalla Khair.
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The study of faith-based giving , development and engagement with human catastrophe is only beginni ng to be identified and resear ched by social scientists and other disciplines. Almost all faiths in the world im press upon their adherents to serve and engage in humanitarian aid causes. Some faiths prescribe and proscribe through divine teachings on how adheren ts should go about participating in humanitarian aid causes and set certai n constraints and parameters for its fulfilment as a religious act and duty. Islam is one such religion that requires its adherents to conform to religious acts of giving through the institution of charity which makes up the third article of faith. Muslims the world over are required to give a portion of their surplus income by way of prescribed and optional charities to humanitarian aid causes both within a nd outside of their community. This prescription is incumbent on all Muslims irre spective of the type of society that they live in as long as they profess faith. The Muslim community in South Africa comprises a minority group with diverse socio-historical backgrounds and its demographic position is no different to the majority of the country’s population. It is characterised by Muslims who had slave, indentured, migrant and trading histories who have now made a permanent presence in the southern tip of the African continent. Its social organisation has evolved over time and currently as a mino rity group it has entrenched itself in all facets of the South African way of life, networking with other diasporic communities and nation states worldwide. It has a well-developed philanthropic infrastructure and is known to have undertaken humanitarian aid causes both within and outside of its community. In post-apartheid South Africa, the Sout h African Muslim community, given the country’s reintegration in the global system after years of political isolation, has played an indelible role in supporting humanitarian aid causes in disaster affected areas. It is in this context that this study examines the role of a Muslim faith-based organisation’s engagement in benevolent disaster related humanitarian aid causes in South Africa. Given the diverse number of faith-bas ed humanitarian organisations amongst Muslims in South Africa, the study undertakes an extensive case study of one faith-based organisation which has a track record in providing such service. The study is preceded by an extensive literature study with a view to formulating a conceptual framework upon which later analysis is undertaken together with the empirical data. It draws on key sociological concepts in the field of philanthropy in order to provide a scientific context to the study. An in-depth analysis is made of religious texts and writings which prov ide the context around which faith-based organisations fulfil their humanitarian aid objectives. The empirical aspect of the study is triangulated using both qualitative and quantitat ive data derived from a select group of donors and volunteers who made up the key respondents in the study. Documentary and conflict analysis were under taken to construct a profile of the case taking into consideration the different aspects of its social organisation. The study concludes with the presentation of the key findings of the research in keeping with its main assumptions and concludes with practical recommendations and how to better align with faith-based organisations engaged in international disaster relief missions with a view to be more effective and pursue sustainable ways of engagement in disaster afflicted areas.