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4 - Negotiating Citizenship and Belonging

The Young Initiative Group

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 July 2022

Nora Derbal
Affiliation:
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Summary

This chapter examines the relationships between volunteerism and religion, between youth activism and Islamic charity. During the reign of King ʿAbdallah, informal groups that advocated volunteering flourished among youth in Saudi Arabia. The rise of youth activism in Saudi Arabia is tied to the rise of social media.

At the heart of this chapter is the Young Initiative Group (YIG), an informal organization that grew out of the efforts of youth who distributed meals during Ramadan 2009. The chapter explores how the YIG negotiated alternative forms of belonging and community through charity work. The YIG embedded its volunteering practices within the religious obligation of alms and compassion for the needy. The group’s community approach was rooted in an Islamic ethics of care. This appeared to be both a reflection of the personal religiosity of some of its founders and strategic positioning vis-à-vis the authorities, given the initiative’s lack of legal status. The YIG’s rhetorical emphasis on family-like relations among volunteers, together with a critique of consumption patterns and references to Islamic norms of benevolence, created an apolitical profile of a group that promoted social reform.

Type
Chapter
Information
Charity in Saudi Arabia
Civil Society under Authoritarianism
, pp. 197 - 244
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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