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Did zakat deliver welfare and justice? Islamic welfare policy in Pakistan, 1980-1994.

Khan, Arshi Rasheed (2007) Did zakat deliver welfare and justice? Islamic welfare policy in Pakistan, 1980-1994. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis evaluates the effectiveness of the official zakat policy in Pakistan in delivering welfare and justice to poorer sections of society over the period 1980-1994. The thesis contrasts the idealistic and theological aspirations of Islamists regarding zakat with the practical outcomes of zakat policy in Pakistan. It also compares zakat policy outcome with the objectives of the government. It is argued that the performance of zakat can be easily manipulated and influenced because it is not only a welfare instrument but also a political tool in the hands of the Islamic state, and thus can be used to advance political ends entirely divorced from the specific welfare goals of zakat. The lack of clarity of Shariah regarding zakat's aspirations for welfare and justice can facilitate this politicisation of the zakat policy. The thesis also argues that the religious nature of zakat does not guarantee automatic compliance with zakat policy, and that if individuals are to internalise the welfare goals of zakat it is necessary for them to have trust in the Islamic state's commitment to these goals. The thesis shows that in Pakistan the Islamic state manipulated zakat policy formation and that there existed a lack of commitment on its part regarding zakat which hampered zakat's effectiveness. This is visible in the shape and the process of zakat policy formulation which demonstrates that the ideals of zakat policy were sacrificed by Zia's Islamic state to gain political patronage and power. This had huge negative implications for the workability and effectiveness of zakat. An analysis of micro-data derived from Household Income and Expenditure Surveys for Pakistan from 1985 to 1994 reveals that zakat failed to exploit the wealth of the rich, with the heaviest incidence being borne by the lowest income groups. Zakat disbursements seemed inadequate and were less than 30% of the poverty line for the respective years. Additionally, there was non-negligible mis-allocation of zakat funds towards higher income households. Zakat achieved some minor alleviation of poverty but its impact was unimpressive regarding reduction in the poverty gap and reduction of the poverty headcount measure. Regarding inequality, the thesis uses the Atkinson-Kohl inequality index and shows that zakat managed to create a positive statistical impact but the improvement was marginal. It seems that most of the time zakat was being taken from the poor and disbursed among them as well.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, History, Sociology, Public and Social Welfare, Islamic Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Economic History

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