Temporal Spaces of Egalitarianism: The Ethical Negation of Economic Inequality in an Ephemeral Religious Organization

Journal of Business Ethics 162 (3):699-718 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article, we illuminate how a consumption practice in an ephemeral religious organization subverts systems of economic inequality that otherwise prevail in, and structure, society. Drawing on a rich ethnographic study in Pakistan, we show how the practice of food consumption in the Tablighi Jamaat —an Islamic organization originating in South Asia that is practiced intermittently by its followers—represents temporal spaces of egalitarianism. Within these temporal spaces, entrenched economic hierarchies that are salient in organizing Pakistani society are challenged. We found that while the fundamental principles of the Tablighi Jamaat advocate for subversion of the economic hierarchies that propagate myriad inequalities by demarcating local Muslims into spheres of different social and economic classes, it is in the practice of food consumption when ethical transgression from these hierarchies are rendered most intelligible. Finally, we consider the implications of this study to the emerging field of Islamic business ethics.

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