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Title:Aid, 'umma', and politics: transnational Islamic NGOs in Chad
Author:Kaag, MaykeISNI
Book title:Islam and Muslim politics in Africa
Editors:Otayek, René
Soares, Benjamin F.
City of publisher:New York
Publisher:Palgrave MacMillan
Geographic term:Chad
Abstract:This chapter explores the character, working methods, and effects of transnational Islamic NGOs in Chad on the basis of research carried out in 2004. It shows that their transnational character comes to the fore in their funding, the geographical scope of their interventions, the composition of their staff, and their objectives, which are most often formulated in terms of the 'umma', the global community of the faithful. They are Islamic organizations, and not merely organizations run by Muslims, in that their objectives, their activities, and their funding are guided by Islamic principles. Aid and 'umma', the humanitarian and the religious, are intimately interwoven in the work of these NGOs. This means, however, that they are also seen as political actors, using aid to enlarge the 'umma' both in a moral or religious sense and in a geopolitical sense. The chapter describes two examples of these organizations' involvement in political dynamics. The first is the rivalry between Christian and Muslim NGOs in the country, which is a struggle both for followers and for moral high ground. This rivalry does not prevent NGO staff from being pragmatic and open to collaboration in practice. The second example concerns the international arena, where transnational Islamic NGOs currently are a target in the US's so-called 'war on terror' for their alleged role in supporting terrorism. The chapter argues that it is simplistic to consider transnational Islamic NGOs as the primary instigators of a fundamentalist Islam in Chad. Their real importance has to be sought in the fact that they are part of broader processes of Islamization and Arabization. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]