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Muslim beliefs have inspired charitable giving for over fourteen centuries, yet Islamic history has rarely been examined from this perspective. In Charity in Islamic Societies, Amy Singer explains the basic concepts and institutions of Muslim charity, including the obligation to give on an annual basis. Charitable endowments shaped Muslim societies and cultures in every era. This book demonstrates how historical circumstances, social status, gender, age and other factors interacted with religious ideals to create a rich variety of charitable practices, from the beginnings of Islam to the present day. Using written texts, buildings, images and objects to anchor the discussions in each chapter, the author explores the motivations for charity, its impact on the rich and the poor, and the politicisation of charity. This lucidly written book will capture the attention of anyone who is interested in the nature of Islamic society and the role of philanthropy throughout history.