The study of poverty and charity in Islamic history has made significant advances and Adam Sabra's book represents a full-length treatment of the subject. By focusing on Mamluk Cairo, the author explores the attitude of medieval Muslims to poverty - why and how did they give alms - and the experience of being poor in an Islamic society. He also considers the role of pious endowments (waqfs) in providing food, education and medical care to the poor of medieval Egypt. This is a fascinating account of a world far removed from the affairs of emirs and ulama usually the traditional province of Mamluk studies. This trend, in conjunction with the comparisons the author affords of poverty and destitution in Europe and China during the same period, will entice a broad range of scholars from within the field and beyond.
• A full-length study of poverty and charity in medieval Islam • This is an important field which has made significant advances, led by similar work on Europe and adjacent civilizations • Concise, well-written and fluent account of 'subaltern' history in contrast to elite studies which have previously dominated Mamluk studies
List of tables; Acknowledgments; List of abbreviations; 1. Introduction; 2. Poverty: ideas and realities; 3. Begging and almsgiving; 4. Waqf; 5. Standards of living; 6. Food shortages and famines; 7. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
'Until now, there have been no monographs on poverty and charity in Islamic societies. Adam Sabra's volume is thus a welcome addition … Sabra's book is an excellent first volume in what is a growing sub-field in the history of the Middle East and Islamic societies.' Journal of Islamic Law and Society
'… an important contribution …' Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam