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The need to abstain from visible and direct forms of political activity that confront or oppose state authorities does not mean that NGOs have no political significance. The very establishment of such welfare associations is already an expression of dissatisfaction with what the state has to offer in terms of social services. These groups recognize the problems society faces and do something to fix them. The groups also see that many of society’s problems stem from government officials and their policies, the popular view remains that government leaders either do not care to fix things or just cannot do anything to solve them.  Such movements conduct struggles over: “meaning and values, reflecting a qualitative shift from direct political contention to the cultural arena. Struggles over power, ethnicity, social good values and religion are often waged through society and cultural discourse rather than state institutions or government decision-making bodies.”

For instance, the subculture often belittles the value of knowledge and official diplomas gained through formal education. It gives priority to religious knowledge that is acquired in more informal ways. Likewise, they may downplay the value of university careers, prestigious jobs, and material possessions, things that generate social status in a society that is dominated by values of economic success, as less relevant. What really matters, according to the latter, is a religiously and morally clean and honest way of life. In the words of a young couple who got married in one of the collective mass weddings organized by the Welfare Association, “We do not care about the (material) affairs of this world. We just want to live for God.” Many transvaluations of values constitute a response to socio-economic frustrations like unemployment, denial of economic opportunities due to practices of nepotism and corruption, and the inability to meet the expectations raised by a consumerist culture. It provides its adherents with a sense of moral superiority and may even lead to a decrease in fear of and deference toward the existing authoritarian state since a good Muslim “is only afraid of God.”

Put simply, they offer an alternative to government social services, which particularly in many countries are often characterized by bureaucratic inefficiency, a severe lack of quality, and widespread corruption. In contrast to the formal authorities, these NGOs act out of a concern for social solidarity, and a moral sense of mission to improve society and the lives of its individual members. Such religious lifeworld values play a role at the level of motivation, but may also be expressed and promoted to the beneficiaries of the NGOs’ services. This may take place informally, in daily interactions of NGO workers with the latter, or through formally organized educational and counseling programs. These values may also be expressed toward the general public.

Surface Model | Akhuwat Foundation

As organized representatives and reflections of the lifeworld, such NGOs function as civil society institutions. At issue is not whether or to what extent they contribute to the strength and influence of oppositional movements in order to assess their significance as civil society institutions. What is at issue is the very fact that the participants of such voluntary associations translate lifeworld values into tangible activities within an organized framework. As such, they contribute to an institutionalized realm that, in principle, functions autonomously from the state apparatus. This realm provides a framework for the expression of a discourse of social good values emanating from the bottom up.

Such a discourse can be considered basic to such NGOs. Monitoring and supervision of NGOs by the state may neutralize potentially dangerous political implications that such discourses might entail. However, they do not really eliminate the latter at their very core. The findings of the study suggest that NGOs are indeed based upon relatively horizontal middle-class networks in their way of functioning. That does not take away the fact, however, that certainly Islamist associations are, at the same time, engaged in activities of religious, moral, and political “colonization” – or even indoctrination, if you will, of their needy recipients.


Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.

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