Poverty and Charity in a Moroccan City

Jessica Marglin

in The Convergence of Judaism and Islam

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036496
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041810 | DOI:
Poverty and Charity in a Moroccan City

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This final chapter tackles the “culture of giving” and the ways Jews and Muslims coped with their less fortunate populations on one of Morocco's most traditional urban agglomerations. The case study of Meknes is considerably important for it is one of the key inland royal Moroccan cities where the Jewish community was sizeable. Here charity and poverty are applied to the broader Middle Eastern/North African context. The findings reveal that prior to the penetration of European concepts about charity, Jews and Muslims viewed poverty as a permanent and natural reality that could be treated but by no means eradicated; both groups portrayed the poor either as inferior beings worthy of some contempt or innocent victims of their faith; donating to charity in order to assist the poor or scholars was a religious duty among Muslims and Jews alike, particularly pronounced during holidays and feasts; and while Meknessi Jews regarded poverty as a fact of life that could not be altered, they nevertheless went beyond providing temporary relief. Part of the communal leadership's goal had been to protect their members from avoidable impoverishment, by centralizing their responses to poverty and charity. Their Muslim counterpart chose not to act in a similar fashion.

Keywords: Halakhah; Taqanot; Meknes; Dhimmi; Alliance Israélite Universelle; Heqdesh

Chapter.  10547 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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