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Call for Special Issue Papers

Muslim Philanthropy

A special issue of Voluntary Sector Review


Guest Editors

Dr Shariq Siddiqui (Indiana University, USA) ssiddiqu@iu.edu

Dr Lili Wang (Arizona State University, USA) Lili.Wang@asu.edu

Deadline to submit abstract and author biography: Friday 30 October 2020


As sociologist Robert Wuthnow observed of voluntary associations in the United States, faith-based groups, in particular, are “one of the most important places in which people learn transferable civic skills (1999: 333)”. This special issue takes a global look at the role of Islam in fostering ethics and practices that lead citizens to engage in civic activities and modes of participatory governance, by presenting research from across the world.


Mass mobilizations in Muslim societies often have proved to link Islamic values and symbols to productive forms of civic engagement (Norton 1993; Singerman 1999; White 2012). Certain interpretations of Islamic teachings have led to projects of local welfare and community-based voluntarism (Deeb 2006; Clark 2006; Atia 2012) as well as projects of national democratic transitions (Minault 1982; Hefner 2000). Such forms of “civil Islam” (Hefner 2000), in these studies, have been shown to be rooted in ethical values and activists’ desires to improve the welfare and public good of their communities. However, most English-language studies of Islamic mobilizations have focused closely on those oriented towards capturing state power or other similar political goals. As Quintan Wiktorowicz (2004: 16) observed in his sweeping review of Islamic activism; “a great deal of research has focused on politicized movements that seek to create an Islamic state,” yet instead in most cases “the core imperative of Islamic movements is a desire to create a society governed and guided by shari’a.” 


By contrast, this special issue seeks papers that presents new research on Muslim societies and forms of “civil Islam” that takes seriously their goals of reforming society and fostering civic ethics, even if such social engagement occurs along with political activities. We welcome discussion on a wide range of themes related to Islam, ethics, and voluntarism. In particular, we seek to present scholarship that goes beyond portrayals of Muslim mobilizations as motivated primarily by political concerns. We ask: What more is there to Muslim public engagement than movements of militant jihad and the “Islamic State”? Numerous concepts have played important roles in Muslim activists’ attempts to mobilize others on moral (not just political) grounds and to motivate civic engagement, such as the “public good” (maslaha), service, Islamic democracy, the Qur’anic instruction for “enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong”, rights (haqq), obligations towards neighbours and others, rationality (ijtehad), and the examples of the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions. Practices and institutions have played a role as well in building up Muslim associations and voluntarism, such as philanthropy (sadaqah, zakat, khums), charitable endowments (waqf, bonyad), consultation (shura), institutionalized pluralism and disagreement in the five schools of law (ikhtalaf fi al-rayy), and types of civil contracts and constitutions (The Medina Contract).


By “Muslim” philanthropy, we mean philanthropic activity of any kind which involves self-identifying Muslim individuals, institutions, communities, and societies as key agents in shaping the context and content of this activity. This includes all activity in which Muslims themselves either give or receive, as well as any activity in which there is an identifiable and significant connection to Muslims and /or Islam. Given the extent to which any construction of Muslim identity necessarily entails the influence of other faiths as well as various expressions of secular culture, the special issue’s scope is intentionally broad as it assiduously seeks to avoid re-inscribing any false binaries between things “Muslim” and “non-Muslim.” 


For us, the frequently referenced concept of the “Muslim world” has little basis in either critical scholarship or Qur’anic discourse. Thus, in terms of geographic regions, there is no area of the world beyond the parameters of our interest.  


Call for papers

For this special issue of Voluntary Sector Review, we are looking for articles that fit within such a brief. Any form of rigorous qualitative method (e.g. interviews, focus groups, ethnography, visual methods, participatory methods, and others), quantitative methods or experiments can be utilized. We aim to include about six articles.

Submission instructions

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for this edited collection, please email an abstract and a 50-word author biography to both editors. The abstract must be no longer than 500 words and must outline the article’s contents, including; its methodology, critical approach and application of theory, and fit with the theme of the special issue. 

Please read our instructions for authors for guidance on preparing your article. 

Key dates and deadlines

  • Abstract and biography submission deadline: Friday 30 October 2020
  • Confirmation of article acceptance: Sunday 15 November 2020
  • Deadline for full paper: Thursday 1 April 2021 


All submissions selected by the editors will be invited to submit a full article through the Voluntary Sector Review submission system, which will then be subject to the journal’s usual double-blind peer review procedures. Invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee publication, and all decisions are ultimately those of the journal editors. 


If you have any questions about potential submissions please contact the special issue editors. If you want to submit an abstract, but the current COVID-19 crisis is causing you significant problems in this regard, we understand - please contact us to discuss it.

Dr Shariq Siddiqui (Indiana University, USA) ssiddiqu@iu.edu

Dr Lili Wang (Arizona State University, USA) Lili.Wang@asu.edu