Dr Masooda Bano will give a lecture on the notion of charity in Islam and how it relates to the conceptual notion and practice of ‘development’ as it has evolved in western development discourse and practice since the 1970s. Jonathan Benthall (UCL) and Kaja Borchgrevink (PRIO) will act as discussants. The session will be chaired by Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO. This is the first seminar in a series on Religion and Development under the Private Islamic Charity and Approaches to Poverty Reduction project funded by NORGLOBAL/RCN.

Islam and development are often viewed to be in a fundamental conflict. Islam is often seen to be opposed to some of the fundamental human rights especially those relating to women to and minorities. This lecture will address the relationship between Islam and Development at three levels: 1) By elaborating the emphasis placed in Islamic teachings on establishing ‘social justice’ through charity, the lecture will show how Islam provides basis for establishing an egalitarian social order which conceptually has much in common with stated objectives of development discourse; 2) The lecture will present case studies of three development programmes implemented by Islamic charities or Islamic political parties and compare them with similar programmes implemented by secular development agencies; 3) The lecture will address the controversial issue of whether or not development agencies should engage with Islamic charities as partners when implementing development programmes within Muslim communities.

Masooda Bano (MSc, Cantab; DPhil, Oxon) is University Research Lecturer at the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Bano currently holds an ESRC/AHRC Ideas and Beliefs Fellowship under the Global Uncertainties programme involving the seven UK Research Councils. Her primary area of interest rests in studying the role of ideas and beliefs in development processes and their evolution and change. Bano specializes in the study of informal institutions and development. Bano’s current research focuses on rise of female Islamic movements in the Muslim world drawing on case studies from Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. She has previously done comparative studies of demand for madrasas (Islamic schools) in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and studied the political economy of madrasa reform programmes in the three countries. Bano is currently advising on the largest ever education sector support programme rolled out by the UK's Department for International Develpment (DfID) in Nigeria, leading a number of studies to understand existing education choices in the northern states of Nigeria. Her publications include ‘The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan’ (2012) and ‘Breakdown in Pakistan: How Aid is Eroding Institutions for Collective Action in Pakistan’ (2012), ‘Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority’ (edited with H. Kalmbach, 2012) and ‘Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script’ (with S. Deneulin, 2009)

Jonathan Benthallwas Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute in London, and Founder/Editor of its bimonthly journal 'Anthropology Today'. He has also served as Chair of the International NGO Training and Research Centre, Oxford (INTRAC). Since 2005 he has been an advisor to the Swiss Government sponsored Islamic Charities Project (formerly Montreux Initiative), and in July 2012 he co-directed the Gulf Charities Workshop, University of Cambridge. His publications include 'Disasters, Relief and the Media' (1993, revised ed. 2009) and 'The Charitable Crescent: Politics of Aid in the Muslim World' (with J. Bellion-Jourdan, 2003, new paperback ed. 2009). He reviews regularly for 'The Times Literary Supplement'.

Kaja Borchgrevink is a Researcher at PRIO. She is currently engaged in doctoral research investigating the relationship between private Islamic charity and poverty reduction practices in the context of Pakistan. Her main research focus has been on peace building, civil society and religion in Afghanistan and Pakistan including studies of religious education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the transnational connections between madrasas (Islamic schools) in the two countries. She has earlier researched the relationship between civil society and peace building in Afghanistan and led the joint CMI-PRIO project on 'Religious Civil Society in Afghanistan', a study of the role of religious groups and networks in Afghanistan after 2001. Borchgrevink has an MSc (SOAS) in Development studies and background from practical development work in South Asia.