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Transnational Islam, immigrant NGOs and poverty alleviation: The case of the IGMG



In the literature of economic development and civil society, extensive research has been done on the role of western NGOs in fighting poverty; however, there is hardly any study on the role of the NGOs originating from Muslim nations on this issue. There is even a complete silence when it comes to expatriate Muslim NGOs that are functional in the West. This paper aims to fill this gap by studying a Muslim immigrant NGO, Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş (IGMG), with a focus on its Kurban (meat distribution) projects in more than 70 countries between 2004 and 2009. It argues that a strong transnationalism tendency exists in the expatriate Turkish community living in Germany. The Kurban projects have both the characteristics of this transnational leaning and play an important role in strengthening their own identity in Germany. Through such projects, immigrants not only get first hand information about the situation of Muslims in other countries but also feel part of transnational Islamic community, ummah. Such activities create awareness about poverty among Muslim immigrants and directly contribute to poverty alleviation by aid, investment and projects. From a broader perspective, this study argues that such projects reinforce their identity as immigrants internally/domestically by highlighting the transnational role of Islam and challenges the argument that immigrants are only consumers rather than active contributors to the poverty alleviation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.