‘Islam and Humanitarianism: Networks of Islamic Charities in Contemporary Southeast Asia’ (Wed, 22 November 2017)

Speaker: Dr. Amelia Fauzia, Asia Research Institute, NUS
Date: Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)


Despite bringing suffering, hardship, human loss and large-scale destruction, disasters that have struck Indonesia during the Post New Order period – such as the Aceh tsunami (2004) – have indirectly pushed its Muslim charitable organisations into an era of internationalization, where their level of engagement with NGOs and agencies from foreign countries has been massive. This could be in terms of fundraising and providing relief assistance in other countries, establishing regional and international associations, and advancing the practice of zakat, waqf, and humanitarian relief. The networks created as a result of such interactions are fluid, dynamic, multi-layered and ‘cross-cutting’, including between state agencies, state-based Islamic charitable organisations and non-state Islamic charitable organisations. Beyond the internal dynamics – and sometimes conflicts – of state-civil society relations in Indonesia, the creation of regional associations, collaborations, and activities in Southeast Asian countries engages with another dimension of state-civil society dynamics and relations in each country with its own unique historical and local contexts (e.g. size of religious followers, state attitudes towards religion, geographical position, and economic status). This talk examines the role of new contemporary networks in facilitating the movement of Islamic charity in Southeast Asia. It questions how such networks gain followers to support humanitarian relief in ‘imagined’ Muslim communities, and looks at the mutual implications of religion, humanitarianism, civil society and state-society relations brought by the networks of Islamic charities in the region. The talk is limited to networks created by Indonesian organizations of Islamic charities in the last two decades. It argues that even though transnational networks and activities provide a mirror image of national networks and movements, they also soften traditional oppositions, such as between state-civil society, Islam-secularism, and Muslim-non Muslim.

About the speaker

Amelia Fauzia is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, NUS. She was previously lecturer at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta. Her research focuses on religion, movements and social change, specifically looking at the relationship between state and civil society. Dr Fauzia received her Masters (1998) from the University of Leiden and, following that, her PhD from the University of Melbourne (2009) where she analysed the state and Muslim civil society through the practice of Islamic philanthropy. She has conducted research on philanthropy, democracy, women and disaster relief on Islam in Indonesia, and Southeast Asia more broadly. Among her publications are Faith and the State, a History of Islamic philanthropy in Indonesia (Brill, 2013), ‘Islamic orientation in contemporary Indonesia: Islamism on the rise?’ (co-author, M. Sakai) (Asian Ethnicity, 2014), and ‘Penolong Kesengsaraan Umum: Muhammadiyah charitable activism during the Colonial period Indonesia’, Journal of Southeast Asia Research (forthcoming).