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Analyses et comptes rendus

Abubakar Dauda. — “They love us because we give them Zakāt.” The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria

Ousmane Kane
p. 901-902
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Abubakar Dauda. — “They love us because we give them Zakāt.” The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria. Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2020, 257 p., bibl., index, ill.

Texte intégral

1This book is based on a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D at the Graduate School “Muslim Cultures and Societies” of the Freie Universität of Berlin. It is published as the twenty-third volume of the “Islam in Africa” series inititated by E. J. Brill in 2003. It is a good addition to this series, which had already made a considerable contribution to the understanding of Islam and Muslim societies in Africa. Its author, Dauda Abubakar, analyzes the political economy of zakāt in the city of Jos in Northern Nigeria.

  • 1 M. Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, London, Cohen & West Ltd (...)

2The manuscript comprises an introduction, six chapters and a conclusion. In a theoretically robust introduction, the author outlines the argument of the book. In the process, he also clarifies key Islamic concepts of charitable giving, presents his theoretical framework and research methodology and announces the road map of the book. The author’s theoretical approach draws heavily on the seminal work of Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies.1 Entitled “Zakāt and Various Forms of Giving,” chapter 1 combines a theological discussion of zakāt in Islam and its practice in Western Africa. It also provides background information on the spread of Islam in the region, as well as on Nigerian contemporary political history and the history and political economy of Jos. Chapter 2 analyzes the “Attitudes of Muslims towards Giving in Jos.” More specifically, it identifies who gives what, to whom and under which circumstances. Chapter 3 examines the “Administration of Zakāt by Muslim groups in Jos.” The author shows that zakāt is a voluntary practice in Jos. No State structure handles its collection and distribution. Instead, established Muslim groups in the city have taken responsibility to collect it and redistribute it. These are notably the Sufi orders of the Qādiriyya and the Tijāniyya, the Jama‘at Nasr al-Islam (the Society for Success of Islam), and the Jama‘at Izālat al-bid‘a wa Iqāmat al-Sunna (Society for the Removal of Heresy and Reinstatement of the Sunna). As their titles indicate, chapters 4 and 5, respectively entitled “Deductions of Zakāt in Jos” and “Distribution of Zakāt in Jos,” address the collection and distribution of the Muslim tithe in the Nigerian city. Chapter 6 entitled “Zakāt and social relationships in Jos” provides the thread that brings all chapters together, and restates the major argument of the book which is that: “When wealthy people deduct their Zakāt and distribute it to the needy members of their society, and when the needy receive it and appreciate the gesture, an interaction is established between the two parties and a social relationship created; such relationships are what form the basis of everyday life and of human coexistence in Jos. In this regard, zakāt produces, enhances and maintain relationships between different classes of people” (p. 190).

3This book deals with a central pillar of Islam, and an important aspect of social relations in Muslim Africa. It is an interdisciplinary work on a central topic which has not been subject to systematic examination in Nigeria. Indeed, the author’s analysis draws from anthropology, history, and theology to offer an insightful analysis of the political economy of zakāt. His work therefore fills a major gap in the study of Islam in Africa and the political economy of zakāt. It will appeal to students of Muslim societies of Africa and Islamicists interested in understanding the role or zakāt in Muslim societies but also to anthropologists, historians and students of religion.

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Notes

1 M. Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, London, Cohen & West Ltd, 1969.

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Référence papier

Ousmane Kane, « Abubakar Dauda. — “They love us because we give them Zakāt.” The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria »Cahiers d’études africaines, 248 | 2022, 901-902.

Référence électronique

Ousmane Kane, « Abubakar Dauda. — “They love us because we give them Zakāt.” The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria »Cahiers d’études africaines [En ligne], 248 | 2022, mis en ligne le 02 décembre 2022, consulté le 02 février 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesafricaines/40327 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/etudesafricaines.40327

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Ousmane Kane

Divinity School, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

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