Only few decades ago, religion was referred to as a ‘development taboo’ (Ver Beek 2000), while so-called ‘faith-based’ organizations (FBOs) were neglected in academia. In recent years, this had changed, and it is now fashionable to talk about FBOs in development studies. However, the interest has primarily been directed towards the Western-based FBOs and Christianity, neglecting other faith traditions, such as Islam. The attention Muslim NGOs have received largely stems from after 9.11 marking these organizations as front faces for terrorist organizations or tools in the foreign policy visions of governments. Research that rarely asks questions as to how these organizations understand themselves, their religion and the aid they provide. This thesis aspires to fill this gap, by the role of religion in three Turkish Muslim Transnational Organizations. Hence, this thesis seeks to move away from analyzing Turkish Muslim Transnational Organizations as foreign policy tools. Concepts such as religion, development and humanitarianism are too ‘unwieldy and difficult-to-define’ that an over-arching theory is either possible or desirable (Rakodi 2012:637). Therefore, I use analytical framework developed by Marie Juul Petersen to answer my problem statement. I analyze the Muslim NGOs’ ideology of aid in terms of three frames: their visions, rationales and strategies to find out whether they provide a sacralized or secularized aid and to position them in the two overarching aid cultures; the Western development aid culture and the Islamic aid culture. To do this, I use the three Turkish Muslim NGOs; Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH); Cansuyu Charity and Solidarity Organization (Cansuyu); and Çare Assistance and Development Association (Çare) as case studies, and collects material about them in form of semi-structured interviews, brochures, magazines, reports and information from their websites.
I found that the three Turkish Muslim NGOs are largely embedded in Islamic aid culture. The organizations hold a notion of poverty as not only material, but in a high degree also spiritual. This ‘multifaceted conception’ of poverty is connected to their two other visions; the idea of a dignified life (of Muslims), and in turn the strengthening of the Muslim community, the umma. The organizations frame their rationale as religious rewards; defending the rights of the poor (muslims); solidarity among the umma; and as a historical responsibility stemming from the period of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, they view aid as both a religious duty and a historical responsibility, integrating Islamic and national contexts into their aid provision. This shows in their strategies of aid, in other words, in the way they seek to achieve their vision through activities such as ‘relief’, ‘social projects’, ‘orphan care’, ‘education’, ‘drilling of wells’, ‘healthcare’, ‘building of mosques and madrasas’, and ‘seasonal activities’ and ‘human rights’. However, while being deeply embedded in Islamic aid culture, the organizations have also sought to integrate concepts from the development aid culture into the Islamic aid culture. However, conclusively, the role of religion in the three Turkish Muslim Transnational Organizations is strongly influenced by the principles and traditions of Islamic aid culture. Moreover, the Islamic traditions of the Ottoman Empire and thus the perception of a historical responsibility fit very well into this conception of aid provision as sacred.
|Udgivelsesdato||20 mar. 2017|