20th century Studies on Islamic Pious Endowments: A Survey
Keywords: Foundation, 20th century, Islamic History, Islamic Charity Institution
Miriam Hoexter evaluates Islamic pious endowment studies in the framework of research conducted in the 20th century. Occupying a central place in Islamic studies, the respective body of work is examined under three main headings. The first section is devoted to scholars concerned with the legal dimension of pious foundations, and appended are citations of publications focussed on legal reform in various parts of the Islamic world, translations of the foundation deeds of trust and a few monographs. The second section includes scholars who have concentrated on the influence of the institution of pious endowments on agrarian relations and whose centerpiece is an international seminar that was held in the late 1970s (a series of topics like the economic effects of foundations, their importance from the perspective of various social services, and the interrelation of the state and endowments and one of the sessions was devoted to the methodology of quantitative analysis). While the topics discussed are meaningful in the light of pointing to the agenda of studies to be conducted in the future, the perceptible interest in socioeconomic history increases the utility for endowment scholars of records like judicial court registers as a complementary component of the contemporary development. An attempt is made in the third section to determine whether or not in the two to three decades subsequent to the seminar the scope of issues pursued by endowment scholars did in fact alter and expand and, as a result, the foundations worked to include ideological, sociological, and cultural conceptualizations. Today, while some scholars are preoccupied with themes like the role of endowments in the concepts of private and public in the formation of the spheres of civil society and the government, foundation studies have acquired an intellectual discourse by virtue of such themes.