The Quranic imperative is to help to those in need; the religion of the beneficiary does not matter. Voluntarism is thus integral to the daily lives of many Muslims, both in Muslim societies and in Western societies. From Ramadan food drives in local mosques in Boston, to volunteering with the police force in Mumbai, to giving toys to orphans in Beirut, to raising money in Abu Dhabi for Darfur victims, Muslims are serving others in numerous ways. Muslim Americans also volunteer avidly in their local communities — in Boy/Girl Scouts, PTAs and homeless shelters, as well as globally with the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors without Borders and the Aga Khan Development Network.
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Dr. Zahra N. Jamal is an Assistant Professor at James Madison College, and the Program Director of Central Asia and International Development at Michigan State University. She was previously on the faculty of Social Anthropology at Harvard and MIT, and serves as an ethnographic consultant to the Aspen Institute, Swiss Development Cooperation, Aga Khan Development Network and USAID for projects on conflict resolution, gender equity, refugees and civic engagement in North America, Europe and Central Asia. She is a contributor to I Speak For Myself, a collection of autobiographical essays by American women on being Muslim.
Earlier related: James Madison College Faculty: Dr. Zahra N. Jamal
“Work no words”: Voluntarism, subjectivity, and moral economies of exchange among Khoja Ismaili Muslims