Social services, social work, volunteerism, and charity are often synonyms used to explore the concept and practice of Muslim philanthropy in Western countries. The Islamic concept of charity is broader than a traditional Western concept of charity as giving money voluntarily to assist someone in need. As the Prophet Muhammad said, “Even a smile is charity.” Zakat and waqf were two premier Muslim philanthropic institutions in the pre-colonial era.
Scholarship on Muslims in the West tend to focus on identity related issues or compatibility concerns. There is very little scholarship exploring Muslim philanthropy in a Western context. And yet charity is considered by many to be an essential aspect of Muslim praxis. One form of Muslim charity, known as zakat, is a pillar of Islam and mentioned frequently in the Qur’an alongside prayer as an important obligation for a believer.
This symposium addresses a simple, yet underexplored, question: How is Muslim philanthropy developing in a secular liberal democracy such as Canada? The symposium will be a pioneering event bringing together a few scholars from a variety of disciplines and practitioners working in the non-profit/charitable sector.
This symposium will invite papers to consider the following topics: • The history and evolution of charitable organisations in Canada • Muslim involvement in refugee resettlement in Canada • Muslim volunteerism and civic engagement in Canada • Muslim participation in wider anti-poverty and social justice movements • Muslim social work and social services in Canada • Muslim charitable giving in the Canadian context • The establishment of waqf institutions in Canada • The impact of the regulatory environment of Canadian charity law on Muslim charities in Canada, especially post 9/11 • The adaptations in the fiqh of zakat in Canada
Funded in part by a grant from the Journal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society, which is a bi-annual, peer reviewed, open access journal published by the Center on Muslim Philanthropy in partnership with Indiana University Press, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, International Institute of Islamic Thought, and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
The symposium will be conducted through Zoom and is hosted by the Centre for Religion and Its Contexts at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
Dr. Katherine Bullock Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga
Dr Nevin Reda Associate Professor of Muslim Studies, Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto