Facets of Faith: Sadaqa as a motivator for self-advancement and community development in North Philadelphia
AbstractOver the past few years, Philadelphia has sustained budget cuts, which threaten the social and economic welfare of many individuals in the region. Baabun Nasr is an Islamic charity which strives to alleviate burdens faced by impoverished individuals in North Philadelphia. Over a six week period, I conducted field work at the site of the charity through participant observation and interviews with the women who staff Baabun Nasr. In this thesis, I examine how the women at Baabun Nasr use the Islamic value of sadaqa as a means of motivation for their community work and personal spiritual growth. In order to demonstrate how their choice to convert to Islam was informed by a racial context, I draw upon history of Islam in America, and notable African American Muslim communities. Furthermore, I investigate many facets of identity that the women chose to adopt when describing themselves and their work to me and the greater community. The women at Baabun Nasr are community activists who are committed to the impoverished local community, and in addressing the needs of this community shatter stereotypes of Muslim women and African American women alike. By being forthright about their work and beliefs they educate individuals about why they believe being a Muslim and a community activist are inseparable. By studying these women and the charity, I hope to share the stories of these Muslim American Women, a pertinent voice to hear in a post 9/11 United States.