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“A Way to Paradise”: Pious Neoliberalism, Islam, and Faith-Based Development

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Three faith-based development organizations (FBDOs) in Cairo and the popular religious star, Amr Khaled, illustrate the melding of Islamic piety and neoliberal development. Together they produce a “pious neoliberalism” that transforms both Islamic charity and neoliberalism as they narrate an Islamic solution to social problems. Their narration links volunteerism, self-help rhetoric, and management science to piety. Focusing on three Islamic development organizations, this study demonstrates how they promote financial investment, entrepreneurship, and business skills as important components of religiosity. The combination of piety and neoliberal values illustrates a new space of compatibility between neoliberalism and Islamism that changes both the spaces for and impact of Islamic da’wa (preaching) in Cairo. FBDOs alter socioeconomic space in Cairo as they insert religiosity into spaces previously seen as un-Islamic. The research contributes to our understanding of the compatibility between religious and neoliberal values through an introduction to the concept of pious neoliberalism. It contributes to our understanding of the changing role of FBDOs in the Middle East and the spatiality of such transformations.

Keywords: Egipto; Egypt; Islam; Islam, neoliberalismo; desarrollo basado en la fe; faith-based development; neoliberalism; voluntarismo; volunteerism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography,The George Washington University,

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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