Multiplication through division: alms, prosperity and securitisation in Indonesia
Kostas Retsikas (SOAS)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores contemporary practices of charity amongst Muslims in Indonesia, paying particular attention to the rise to public prominence of ‘the mathematics of alms giving’.
Paper long abstract:
The paper explores contemporary practices of charity amongst Muslims in Indonesia, paying particular attention to the rise to public prominence of 'the mathematics of alms giving'. 'The mathematics of alms giving' provides the Muslim faithful with a systematic method of achieving prosperity and overabundance both in this world and the afterlife through encouraging them to divide their property up, spread it around and share it with others. Such practices are held to have the miraculous effect of ensuring the parted property's eventual return in multiplied form and manifold shapes. Much of this effect is mediated by a literalist understanding of the Quran and the rendering of alms as an investment carrying the promise of divine increase. However, rather than simply corresponding to the financialisation of the religious, 'the mathematics of alms giving' presents neo-liberal capitalism with overwhelming challenges the most significant being that of recognising non-human sources of capital growth and of operating in a risk free environment that stock traders' probability models find hard to emulate.
Invisible hands: alternate modes of prosperity, wealth and well-being