MSU Department of Anthropology Associate Professor Dr. Mara Leichtman recently published an article in a special issue of The Muslim World, titled “Centering Muslims in Global Humanitarianism and Development”. Dr. Leichtman’s article, “Da‘wa as Development: Kuwaiti Islamic Charity in East and West Africa” examines the work of one transnational Islamic charity headquartered in Kuwait in two very different African countries.
Read the full article at: DOI:10.1111/muwo.12423
“Direct Aid (formerly Africa Muslims Agency), Kuwait’s largest charity focused on Africa, carefully mediates between Gulf donor wishes, aid recipient needs, Kuwaiti and African government regulations, and various development priorities. Since the 1980s, Direct Aid has been centralizing religious and development work in complexes that comprise orphanages, schools, clinics, and mosques – a distinctly Kuwaiti model that aims for self‐sufficient communities. The Islamic NGO cannot be confined to narrow Western categorizations of Gulf Salafi da’wa (proselytizing) institutions. Direct Aid’s approach is strategically grounded in comprehensiveness/”holism,” which serves to blur established categories of “charity,” “relief,” and “development” to become da’wa‐as‐development. “Good Muslims” are envisioned as those who graduate from the international NGO’s educational programs and become moral members of society trained to be productive citizens of their countries. This article examines the work of one transnational Islamic charity headquartered in Kuwait in two very different African countries. A comparison of the similarities and variances of Direct Aid’s projects in Tanzania and Senegal highlights how the organization adapts its work to local Muslim‐minority and Muslim‐majority settings. What is the cultural and religious impact of Gulf funding in East and West Africa? How do Kuwait headquarters interact with African beneficiaries?”