Session 5

Islamic Teachings and Social Policy

In this session 4 papers were presented which are, respectively, (1) “The Role of Zakat in the Provision of Social Protection: a Comparison Between Jordan, Palestine and Sudan” by Anna Carolina Maciel da Silva, Charlotte Bilo and Imane Helmy; (2) “Zakat As a Resource Complement To Cash Transfers To Face Poverty Alleviation In Algeria” by Zine Barka and Fatima-Zohra Kiari; (3) “The Idea of Right in the View of Imam Ali and John Rawls” by Said Vesali; and (4) “Sociological study of Social Ideal Discourse of Contemporary Religious Intellectuals (Shariati, soroush)” by Azam Mirzayi and Yaghob Mousavi.

In the first presentation, Anna Carolina Maciel da Silva and Charlotte Bilo explain that Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and is considered a religious duty for the wealthy to help those in need through financial or in-kind contributions. They compared the different modalities of Zakat in Jordan, Sudan and Palestine, comparing them in terms of organisational nature, legal status as well as the services they offer. The results show that Zakat Funds can differ greatly in terms of institutional arrangements and benefit provision. Improving coordination among state institutions is crucial to enhance the role of Zakat Funds as providers of social protection. However, assessing its feasibility and assuring the commitment of relevant stakeholders are essential steps for this process. Moreover, a ‘de-politicization’ of Funds seems to be important to ensure the public trust that Zakat has traditionally enjoyed.

Zine Barka in second presentation was suggested that the Muslim countries inherited an important pillar in the practice of religion, i.e. Zakat, for fighting against poverty. The authors’ statement looks at Zakat and the cash transfers as an additional policy to fight poverty.

Third, Said Vesali discussed that Muslim societies have their own culture and therefore, it is possible for them to focus on their own ways of life and internal guidelines. In his analysis, two books of John Rawls and Imam Ali was used; they are first, "Justice as equity" and second, "Nahjulbalagha". The two books will be observed and ideas on the concept of right will be explored on the basis of content analysis. The author tried to make a comparison between the two kinds of assertions, that is John Rawls and Imam Ali, and showed that the concept of right has been observed many centuries ago and at that time, Imam Ali has made an attempt to come to a solution to class division and finally to the promotion of right.

And, in the fourth presentation Azam Mirzayi and Yaghob Mousavi were intended to represent and analyze some of the contemporary Iranian religious intellectuals, regarding the model of their social ideal. The purpose of this study is to provide an image of an idealized social order and to answer the main social concerns of contemporary Iranian society. They believed that the analysis of the social discourse of Ali Shariati and Abdolkarim Soroush, as well-known examples in the context of religious intellectualism, has more social significance and impact than any other. The study of the works of Shariati is a discourse in which social and cultural mobility is in reaching the Islamic Ummah of all its dimensions and characteristics. In such an ideal society, social relations and identity of individuals are defined on the basis of Shi'a Islam and the slogan of (Erfan) mysticism, equality and committed freedom. While Soroush's discourse analysis of the social ideal represents a society of moral-faith in which democratic religion provides a way for all kinds of social, cultural and political liberalization to provide religious pluralism for the flourishing of the world and for the salvation of the hereafter.