Poverty and Charity in Medieval Islam: Mamluk Egypt, 1250–1517

Publication Year



By focusing on Mamluk Cairo, Adam Sabra explores the attitude of medieval Muslims to poverty and the experience of being poor in an Islamic society. He also considers the role of pious endowments (waqfs) in sustaining the poor. In this way the book affords fascinating insights into a world far removed from elite society, hitherto the focus of Mamluk studies. This trend, in conjunction with comparisons offered between the Islamic world, Europe and China, will entice a broad range of scholars from within the field and beyond.

  • A full-length study of poverty and charity in medieval Islam
  • This is an important field which has made significant advances, led by similar work on Europe and adjacent civilizations
  • Concise, well-written and fluent account of 'subaltern' history in contrast to elite studies which have previously dominated Mamluk studies

    Table of Contents

    List of tables
    List of abbreviations
    1. Introduction
    2. Poverty: ideas and realities
    3. Begging and almsgiving
    4. Waqf
    5. Standards of living
    6. Food shortages and famines
    7. Conclusion

    Reviews and Endorsements

    "This is an important work which makes valuable contributions in two fields...He provides a wide range of data and constructs an important series of tables...the work defly blends synthesis of existing scholarship with the author's own findings and should spur future research in both the social and economic history of the Mamluk sultanate." Religious Studies Review

Series Title
Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization
Cambridge University Press, 2000
Cambridge and New York
Cloth: 0521772915; paper: 9780521034746