Building a House in HeavenPious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt

Building a House in HeavenPious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt

Mona Atia

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816689156

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Building a House in Heaven uses Islamic charity as a lens through which to understand the relations between the economy, state and religion in Mubarak era Egypt. My approach links questions of governance, authority, economy and polity with questions of identity, subjectivity and ways of knowing. The first geographical account of its kind, it considers how Islamic associations enact Islamic economic practices and how these practices changed relations between the state, voluntary and private sectors. I explore the practices of Islamic charities and their associated sites, neighborhoods, ideology, sources of funding, projects, and broad social networks. Throughout the book, I map the landscape of charity and development in Egypt, moving back and forth between ethnographic stories of specific organizations and reflections on patterns across the sector. I chart numerous factors that changed the nature of Egyptian charitable practices including: the state’s intervention in social care and religion, an Islamic revival, political economic trends that intensified economic pressures on the poor, and the emergence of the private sector as a key development actor.