Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Look Inside Charity in Islamic Societies

Charity in Islamic Societies


Award Winner

Part of Themes in Islamic History

  • Date Published: September 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521529129

£ 23.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Request inspection copy

Lecturers may request a copy of this title for inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Muslim beliefs have inspired charitable giving for over fourteen centuries, yet Islamic history has rarely been examined from this perspective. In Charity in Islamic Societies, Amy Singer explains the basic concepts and institutions of Muslim charity, including the obligation to give on an annual basis. Charitable endowments shaped Muslim societies and cultures in every era. This book demonstrates how historical circumstances, social status, gender, age and other factors interacted with religious ideals to create a rich variety of charitable practices, from the beginnings of Islam to the present day. Using written texts, buildings, images and objects to anchor the discussions in each chapter, the author explores the motivations for charity, its impact on the rich and the poor, and the politicisation of charity. This lucidly written book will capture the attention of anyone who is interested in the nature of Islamic society and the role of philanthropy throughout history.

    • The first book to explain the concepts and practices that have shaped charity among Muslims from the beginning of Islam until today
    • An enlightened and creative approach to the subject by one of the leading historians in the field
    • This book fills a gap in the subject at introductory level for students of both Islamic history and religious studies
    Read more


    • ARNOVA Best Book Award 2010

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Weaving many anecdotes and personal experiences into her narrative, in addition to careful textual readings, Singer captures the psychological subtleties that characterise nearly all aspects of charitable giving and demonstrates how these have manifested themselves throughout history. As a consequence, her book has a freshness and relevancy that is not always found in scholarly works.' Haaretz, Israeli Daily Newspaper

    'Undergraduates should find the book a very useful introduction to an aspect of Islamic societies that is rarely discussed historically. Those who are familiar with the general themes of the book, like zakat (alms) and waqf (religious endowment), will still find its broad and comparative framework very stimulating.' Middle East Journal

    '[Singer's] book serves as an effective counterweight to post-9/11 studies that link Islamic charities and jihadist movements. [She] succeeds in decoupling the contemporary association between Islamic charity and violence.' History

    'Amy Singer draws on a vast array of sources, from 10th century jurist Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali to early 20th century Turkish political activist Halide Edip Adavar, in her rich overview of philanthropy in Islamic societies. The work unites religious texts and their meaning with a fascinating analysis of the role and impact of charity in Islamic societies, presenting charity as both religious ideal and social practice.' Alliance

    '… this fine book accomplishes what it sets out to do: to present an overview of Islamic charitable practices through an examination of the texts that have underpinned them and the many ways in which those texts have been examined and re-interpreted over the centuries. One anticipates that many of Singer's readers will heed her challenge to take up where this book, and her questions, leaves off.' Lisa Pollard, English Historical Review

    'Singer attempts to offer an all-encompassing view of a mammoth topic … Singer recognizes that her text is introductory for both scholars of Islam and scholars specializing in charity. In addition to an introduction and conclusion, the book is divided into five chapters - each engaging a particular theme or facet of charitable giving … The author's objectives are admirable: integrating Islamic societies into general scholarship on charity; countering recent negative representations of Muslim charity; filling a perceived gap in Islamic studies; and, perhaps secondarily, blurring a conceptual line between charity and patronage.' The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    'Amy Singer's comprehensive study of Islamic charity and the institution of Islamic pious and charitable foundations (waqf) is a timely and welcome addition to the state of scholarship on this important institution across time and space. It provides background on the normative definition of charity contained in the Qur'an and hadith and takes up the question of praxis across Muslim societies from medieval to modern times.' Journal of the American Oriental Society

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521529129
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Pray and pay alms
    2. Even half a date
    3. The upper hand
    4. The poor and the needy
    5. The mixed economy of charity
    Conclusion: reorienting charity.

  • Author

    Amy Singer, Tel-Aviv University
    Amy Singer is Associate Professor, Ottoman History, in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University, Israel. Her recent publications include Palestinian Peasants and Ottoman Officials (Cambridge University Press, 1994), Constructing Ottoman Beneficence: An Imperial Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem (2002), Middle East Historiographies (ed., 2006) and Feeding People, Feeding Power: Imarets in the Ottoman Empire (ed., 2007).


    • ARNOVA Best Book Award 2010

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.