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Islamic Charities and Islamic Humanism in Troubled Times$
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Jonathan Benthall

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784993085

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784993085.001.0001

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The Islamic Charities Project (formerly Montreux Initiative)

The Islamic Charities Project (formerly Montreux Initiative)

(p.81) 5 The Islamic Charities Project (formerly Montreux Initiative)
Islamic Charities and Islamic Humanism in Troubled Times

Jonathan Benthall

Manchester University Press

This is a personal account of a mediation or conflict resolution project (2005–2013), funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Political Division IV) in which the author took part as an adviser. The aim of this exercise in “track two diplomacy” was to help remove unjustified obstacles from Islamic charities. It did not succeed in surmounting all the challenges it faced, partly as a result of political turbulence in the post 9/11 years. In particular, not enough trust was generated between the US Treasury and the charities of the Gulf states to facilitate mediation. The chapter concludes, however, by forecasting that future efforts of a similar kind will be made to bring Islamic charities fully into the international aid system. Materially well-off Muslims have the resources to alleviate poverty and suffering, while the overseas aid budgets of the major Western nations are under pressure. Moreover, a “humanitarian vacuum” is created in complex zones of conflict such as Syria, when bona fide Islamic charities are absent for political reasons and the field is left open for extremist groups. The growth of research on Islamic charities will help give substance and credibility to future interventions.

Keywords:   Islam, Charity, Montreux Initiative, Islamic Charities Project, United States Treasury, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Gulf charities, Humanitarian vacuum

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