Muslim Philanthropy in India: Modern Interpretations of an Ancient Tradition?


India’s philanthropic tradition is rich and varied; combining thousands of years of cultural, religious and ethnic inter-mingling. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and other religious traditions have shaped the Indian way of life and attitudes concerning charity and philanthropy. From Gandhi, who advocated dan, to examples of Mughal rulers who gifted land to build temples; there is a plethora of diversity in terms of how charity has been practiced in this ancient land. High net-worth giving by the newly rich and the information technology entrepreneurship in the form of setting up educational institutions and hospitals is also a facet of modern life. However, data is hard to come by regarding aspects of charity and philanthropy (Godfrey, Brannigan & Khan, 2016). A rich and vibrant philanthropic landscape exists in India, which is largely driven by traditional norms of giving; that is to say, religiously driven. However, there is an emerging trend of ‘social impact investing’ and philanthropy aimed towards development. In a comparative study about the Waqf governance in India and Malaysia, AziznAli (2018), argue that despite being a source of considerable wealth for the Muslim community and despite having benefited the communities over a period of centuries; many of the Waqf institutions lack good governance. This paper examines the movement of ideas in the world of Muslim philanthropy (using India as an example) and critiques how modern notions of philanthropy are challenging and in some cases upending traditional forms of giving.


Sabith Khan
Associate Professor and Program Director, MPPA, Cal Lutheran University, California, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Religious Foundations


Philanthropy, Interpretation of religion, Zakat, Sadaqa, India

Digital Media

This presenter hasn’t added media.
Request media and follow this presentation.