About the Author(s)

Nurus Shalihin Email symbol
Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Ushuluddin and Religious Studies, Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Imam Bonjol Padang, Padang, Indonesia

Firdaus Firdaus symbol
Department of Sociology Education, STKIP PGRI Sumatera Barat, Padang, Indonesia

Yulia Yulia symbol
Department of Math Education, Faculty of Tarbiyah and Teacher Training, Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Imam Bonjol Padang, Padang, Indonesia

Ujang Wardi symbol
Lasigo Akademia Indonesia, Padang, Indonesia


Shalihin, N., Firdaus, F., Yulia, Y. & Wardi, U., 2020, ‘Ramadan and strengthening of the social capital of Indonesian Muslim communities’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 76(3), a6241. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.6241

Original Research

Ramadan and strengthening of the social capital of Indonesian Muslim communities

Nurus Shalihin, Firdaus Firdaus, Yulia Yulia, Ujang Wardi

Received: 09 July 2020; Accepted: 06 Oct. 2020; Published: 21 Dec. 2020

Copyright: © 2020. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study aims to examine the relationship between Ramadan and social capital, that is, social solidarity and philanthropy, in Muslim communities in Indonesia. The data waere collected through a questionnaire that was distributed to 600 respondents in six districts or cities in two provinces. Respondents were randomly selected at the village level. The results showed that social solidarity during Ramadan was high (3.32) with values of the spirit of togetherness (3.37), collective consciousness (3.32) and cooperation (3.28). In addition, philanthropy was included in a high category (3.27) with different values of alms (3.49), infaq (3.23) and waqf (3.10). Therefore, it can be concluded that Ramadan contributes positively to the social solidarity of Muslim communities in Indonesia. The result can be used to develop a model of social solidarity in overcoming the problem of disintegration. Furthermore, it improves Muslim philanthropy for social welfare and to overcome the problem of poverty.

Contribution: This article contributes to the sustainable development goal of poverty alleviation. It focuses on a multidisplinary religious perspective from textual and hermeneutical studies within the paradigm of Qur’an studies.

Keywords: Ramadan; Indonesian Muslim; philanthropy; social capital; social solidarity.


As a holy month, Ramadan refers to a special epic journey of the Muslim community on which the various religious expressions take place in a very strong and comprehensive manner. It is not only about fasting as a pivot of strength but also about an increase in devotional, moral and social commitments (Schielke 2009). In the context of religion, it is closely linked to mental and spiritual (intrinsic values) life and social life (extrinsic values). This is because of religiosity, which reflects an individual’s involvement in spiritual issues, including feelings and experiences as a religious person towards the environment and global life (Kendler et al. 2003). Religiosity is a spiritual feeling that originates from belief in God and is shaped by piety and spirit (Salleh 2012). As a social phenomenon, Ramadan is closely linked to human consciousness concerning religion, beliefs and social life (Kendler et al. 2003), that is, religious affiliation, participation and other forms of expression (Farmer, Trapnell & Meston 2009).

As the phenomenon of religiosity has intrinsic (Salleh 2012) and extrinsic (Farmer et al. 2009; Kanaris 2002) values in practical terms, Ramadan is directly related to social, cultural and economic life. Religiosity is an expression of belief, doctrinal values and piety manifested in various aspects of existence, and its practice or expression can also be understood as one form of informal institution, which is directly related to economic structure, politics and social interaction (Campante & Yanagizawa-Drott 2015). In this context, it can be concluded that it has a significant economic impact on the trade deficit (Yavuz, Güriş & Kıran 2008) and the acceleration of stock returns (Bialkowski, Etebari & Wisniewski 2010). Socially, it can also increase subjective well-being, which will lead to an increase in spirituality, solidarity and social identity amongst Muslims (Campante & Yanagizawa-Drott 2015).

In this context, studies of Ramadan or fasting are viewed from three angles. The first one examines it from an economic perspective, as well as the acceleration of equity returns (Bialkowski et al. 2010) and their impact on trade deficits (Yavuz et al. 2008). The second one views it as a religious expression to promote spirituality, morality, solidarity and social identity amongst Muslims (Campante & Yanagizawa-Drott 2015; Moller 2005; Schielke 2009) and to help in HIV AIDS prevention (Parkhurst & Whiteside 2010). The third one views Ramadan as a forceful structural fact, where it is present as an annual form of oppression of Islamic societies, especially women (Anton 1968; Buitelaar 1993).

Five studies related to Ramadan have been conducted in Indonesia. The first study was conducted by Hellman (2006) on local discourse about fasting and its meaningfulness as an important instrument in empowering oneself, self-obedience and self-control. The second study of Hellman (2008) analysed the importance of food and its changing meaning as well as its relationship to the non-ritual context. The third and fourth are studies of Moller (2005, 2005b). The first study of Moller (2005) explained the practice of fasting and various rituals that intersect with culture during Ramadan. In the next year, Moller (2005b) highlighted the importance of rituals and tarawih prayers for the Muslim community in Java. Despite the differences between each of the tarawih prayers, they can overcome their ritual differences, especially because of their cultural subtleties. In addition, a study by Schmidt (2012) also elaborated that malls transformed shopping places into religious ideological and negotiation spaces of Islamic modernity during the month of Ramadan.

Moller (2005) stated that, because Ramadan is a more difficult and important jihad for Indonesian Muslims, it is strange that a small scientific project would arise from it. For this reason, this study aims to examine the attention paid to the social capital of Muslim communities. It has been argued that religious values and practices contribute to increase in social capital during Ramadan, and this was built on the assumption that religious beliefs with all their practices play an important role in shaping social relations and behaviour (Kasmo et al. 2015; Odabasi & Argan 2009; Schnabel & Groetsch 2014).

Ramadan and social capital

The integration of capital into social obligations is still under discussion. It is viewed as a metaphor and is therefore conceptually considered to be non-standardised. Capital is defined as material that can be accumulated, exchanged and invested. This idea is not new in the discipline of social science because it is still struggling in the discourse of human relations. In addition, the presence is in line with the attention of social ties. John Field stated that Emile Durkheim had long studied the ties governing humans by distinguishing between mechanical and organic solidarities until it was widely known as the social bond classification of pre-modern and modern societies (Field 2013). Therefore, the discussion of social capital only requires a paradigm shift to examine the ties, where the embryo of ideas already existed before they were discussed.

The paradigm shift sparked the idea that not only do social ties consist of non-productive relations, but they are also believed to offer certain advantages to actors. It can be likened to other capitals concept that have been conceptually standard such as the concept of capital in economics. However, in a social context, capital is more defined as non-material. James Coleman has a functional perspective in narrating social ties, that is, it can function like other assets. When physical and human capital, such as tools and skills, respectively, facilitate the search and production of new means, it is considered capable of expediting social actors to do things that cannot be done (Coleman 1988; Kwon, Heflin & Ruef 2013). This definition makes it productive.

Following Coleman, Putnam designed social capital by referring to the characteristics of the organisation, namely, networks, norms and beliefs. These features are then considered to be able to give birth to facilities and cooperation to produce mutual benefits (Bhandari & Yasunobu 2009; Putnam 1995). Although different from Coleman, what is conceived by Putnam is the same as Coleman’s conception of social capital (Marsden 2005), which is social capital should be supported by a set of shared values among actors (Bhandari & Yasunobu 2009). In this case, trust and reciprocity are two important factors to be highly considered.

Trust is an interesting aspect of social and political research. It becomes an important term to discuss because it refers to a set of values that can support social cohesion. Marc Hooge stated that it is a lubricant to smooth the wheels of society. This idea can be perceived as a belief in the behaviour of others, rather than as a moral value. Thereafter, trust and social capital in context-dependent terms (Hooghe & Stolle 2003) were then interpreted. In other words, it is a relational instrument when seen from a social context. Furthermore, Putnam also showed a positive relationship between trust and well-being. Field (2013) also believes that networks with high trust will function better than those with low trust. Although Field states that trust is very complex to talk about, he admits that trust has an integral relationship with social capital.

Social capital also brings mutual benefits and shows that it does not apply to individualism. Relationships can be seen as a source of capital when the actors can create obligations and expectations of each other. For this reason, Putnam stated that social capital is a ‘public good’, in contrast to others with the opinion that it is more a ‘private good’. It typically includes bonds, norms and beliefs that can be transferred from other social settings. People can be brought together by the same talent, although it does not aim to strengthen social ties (Putnam 1995). It is understood that reciprocity refers to a set of general values that the network can activate as social capital.

Although coherence is still debated in a social context, the term ‘capital’ can be activated when it is conceptualised with its supporting components. Social capital is always interpreted functionally and can be contextualised in social environments under different circumstances, such as described by Coleman and Putnam, who use this theory to analyse social relationships in the United States. At this stage, it can be said that the capital framework can be used to look at other social relations, including Muslim activities during the month of Ramadan, which is marked by not only the phenomenon of increasing worship of individual Muslim communities but also the activities that involve interaction between them.

Ramadan and social solidarity

Andre Moller stated that Ramadan is the right time in Javanese society to forget mistakes, revenge and arguments at least for a while. Muslim individuals are also more closely connected. For example, individuals in extended families visit each other for welcoming Ramadan. Relations between neighbours are also increasingly intense. They are also involved in various collective activities during Ramadan. Based on social facts observed by Moller in Java, it was concluded that, functionally, it is a month when conflicts in society can be mitigated (Moller 2005) and it has the potential to unite individuals in a Muslim community.

With the advent of Ramadan, social integration can form itself in society. Referring to Moller, there is a tradition of ruwahan or slametan in Javanese society. These traditions are attended by the community. Although ruwahan is intended to pray for the souls of parents who have died, another purpose is also to reorganise relationships between neighbours whilst welcoming Ramadan. Good relations are assumed to help them perform Ramadan without emotional disturbance (Moller 2005).

Good relations through certain traditions or rituals emphasise that it is an instrument to establish social solidarity. Ramadan, which is believed to be the month of grace and mercy, becomes a set of values and beliefs that move people to establish togetherness through certain traditions. In addition, its transcendental function is transformed into social activities. Cohesiveness in a community is the proposition of social solidarity and can be based on values, customs and beliefs shared in a collective bond (Hakim 2020; Samsu 2014). Traditions or rituals, such as the collective reception of Ramadan, refer to these manifestations.

From the above explanation, it can be understood that solidarity in the month of Ramadan is formed mechanically. It is not based on the division of labour or the economy, but common values and customs. Collectively, the community is evenly aware that Ramadan needs to be welcomed with a specific agenda. This is formed by themselves without coercion from other parties, which is called the collective consciousness. In terms of Durkheim’s terminology, it is a belief held by each member of the social community, which then becomes the determinant of their living system (Durkheim 1984). Although this concept tends to apply in pre-modern societies that are not yet divided based on the division of labour, collective consciousness can be obtained through certain rituals and traditions in the month of Ramadan, such as slametan, that still exists in Javanese society. Through this framework, social solidarity can be investigated, and its intersection with Ramadan departs from the assumption that togetherness, collective consciousness and cooperation are features found in the traditions and rituals of the Muslim community.

Ramadan and philanthropy

Religiosity in Ramadan is also displayed in the form of philanthropic activities, as in Islamic values, to empower and encourage social justice (Fauzia 2017). The three forms of philanthropy are alms, infaq and waqf. Conceptually, alms giving refers to giving a gift voluntarily in order to expect the reward from Allah ta’ala (Uyun 2015). In Islam, the term ‘alms’ is very broad in meaning. It includes material and non-material elements (Latief 2017). Sābiq (2000) stated that alms cover all of virtue on Muslims. Thus, alms include activities carried out by Muslims, either giving objects or performing services for others.

Infaq is significantly broad in meaning. It can be done by anyone without any specific criterion on economy or social class. However, the practice of infaq has a more specific dimension that each person gives materials, money or properties. Based on Al Qur’an, Lailatussufiani, Burhan and Multifiah (2016) argued about two important things on the implementation of infaq. Firstly, Muslims can give the infaq to a close family as a priority. Secondly, they can give it to an orphan, a poor family and the wayfarer.

Waqf is more complex than alms and infaq. In the tradition of classical Islam, waqf is interpreted as granting the implementation by holding the ownership of origin (tahbis al-ashl). Muslims cannot use it after giving that waqf to others or al-intifa’. The right to take advantage of the properties moves from private to public (Fuadi 2018). The management of waqf is implied by nadzhir waqf in order to provide benefits for society. Nadhzir waqf has the responsibility to manage waqf assets professionally so as to be completely used for the benefit of the public.

Alms, infaq and waqf have the same goal as social generosity, but they are different in practice. Alms are essentially giving consumptive goods and property privately and independently and can immediately be spent or used by the receiver. A Muslim does not require compensation losses or returns. He expects rewards from Allah ta’ala (Lailatussufiani et al. 2016). If the charity covers material and non-material aspects, infaq focuses on the property freely, as illustrated in QS Al Baqarah: 272, 273, 274. In contrast, waqf is described in Islam as the provision of the requisite special: (1) it is intended for religious and public interests, (2) the benefits of the property are eternal, and it is not used for a short period of time, and (3) it is granted without limit of time. These points differentiate waqf, alms and infaq (Bariyah 2016). Thus, alms, waqaf and infaq are part of the system of philanthropy in Islam and are used as a medium to strengthen the aspects of economic and social life (Latief 2017). This philanthropy not only empowers the economy, especially through waqf (Lailatussufiani et al. 2016; Piliyanti 2010; Uyun 2015), but also strengthens social solidarity through alms and infaq.

Although influenced by norms, these activities require social relations. It cannot be perceived by the dimension that only has an individualistic pattern but can be perceived by a dimension that also has a social reality, with historical and sociological facts (Abdullah 2009). Therefore, philanthropy is not a theological phenomenon, but rather a social one that involves interaction between actors. It should be placed on a balance that determines the pattern of reality.

The network in Islamic philanthropy is a valid proposition to be investigated as a social fact. It is interpreted as an effort to create shared prosperity, and it represents the collective activities of the community in solving problems of social life, poverty and justice (Latief 2016). Besides containing the element of sponsorship, it can also be interpreted as a form of empowerment of others. In addition, it is an expression of a citizen or society that believes that the other people have the right to live happily and it can be endeavoured by the community (Hasyim 2018). Therefore, we argue that Ramadan, which is full of philanthropy, correlates with social capital.

This element of belief explains the understanding of social actors who perform philanthropic activities. From this perspective, it can be said to be a form of relations between social actors, assuming that alms, infaq and waqf are not based on inequality of values, as its activities are intended to provide convenience and welfare for the less privileged. At least, in the traditional concept, it is based on charity or volunteerism (Jusuf 2007). Although there has not been a strong formula for connecting alms, infaq and waqf with the concept of the general well-being, there is a kind of solidarity base for actors to follow. At this level, philanthropy is closely linked to caring and solidarity between the poor and the rich, and between the strong and the weak (Latief 2016).

Wheeless (1978) stated that solidarity is derived from several subrelations, such as a pleasant feeling of trust between the social actors. In other words, philanthropy as an activity that reflects solidarity is triggered by the trust, and they made their choices before giving. Therefore, it is not only determined by the presence of people in need but also supported by choices based on trust.

Solidarity also has the potential to enhance interpersonal relationships. This possibility reinforces the reason that it can lead to closer social ties, and care gives birth to other responsibilities in different forms (Field 2013). Concern has a symmetrical relationship with shared norms, whilst it is possible to consider philanthropy as an investment effort for the future. This is, then, called a reciprocal relationship or a set of shared values in social capital.

From this explanation it can be said that an intersection exists between philanthropy in Ramadan and social capital. Activities like alm, infaq and waqaf have social capital features, such as networks, beliefs and a set of shared values. Therefore, at the same time, within the framework of social capital, it can also affect the quality of relations in society, both intra- and inter-community.


This paper was written based on the result of field research conducted in two provinces in Indonesia, that is, West Sumatra and Yogyakarta. The selection of West Sumatra as a research sample (see Table 1) was to represent a homogeneous region, both culturally and religiously. Three regencies or cities were selected by a classification that represented the Darek and Rantau areas. Yogyakarta was chosen as a sample because it represented heterogeneous regions. In addition, three regencies or cities that represented rural and urban areas were also selected. This research collected quantitative data to examine the relationship of Ramadan with social capital, specifically philanthropy and solidarity of Muslim communities.

TABLE 1: The Number of Research Sample.
Research sample

The samples of this study are 600 people from two provinces in Indonesia, namely, West Sumatra and Yogyakarta. The sample size from each province was 300 respondents in three regencies or cities that were selected purposively. In each regency or city, 50 samples were selected randomly at the village level. The selection of West Sumatra as a research sample was to represent a homogeneous area, both culturally and religiously (Hadler 2008). Three regencies or cities in West Sumatra were selected with a classification representing the area of Darek and Rantau. In each regency or city, two nagari or kelurahan were selected based on the consideration of the characteristic representation of the areas, as mentioned earlier. On the contrary, the selection of Yogyakarta as a sample area was based on the consideration of a heterogeneous region representation. Three regencies or cities were selected with the classification that represents rural and urban areas. In each regency or city, two villages or kelurahan were selected based on the regency or city representation.

Data collection and analysis

Data collection was performed through a survey by using a questionnaire. The questionnaire was arranged according to philanthropic indicators and using a Likert scale (5-point scale) (Göb, McCollin & Ramalhoto 2007). Questionnaire validation was carried out through reviews by three different experts, namely, sociologists, evaluation experts and linguists. Revision of the questionnaire was carried out based on experts’ evaluation. A trial of 50 samples was conducted outside of the study area to test the quality of the questionnaire by analysing the validity of items and the reliability of the questionnaire. The calculation of the validity of the questionnaire items was performed by using the Moment Product Correlation formula, whilst the calculation of the reliability of the questionnaire was performed by using the Alpha formula.

The data obtained through questionnaire later were analysed through two phases, namely, scoring of all answers and determining the average. Scoring to the respondents’ answers was given with a value between the range of 1 and 4, whilst determination of the average was done using the formula:

Ethical consideration

This article followed all ethical standards for a research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.


The results of this study were divided into two domains, that is, philanthropy and social solidarity, which served as reference for the relationship between Ramadan and social capital. Furthermore, three dimensions were used to analyse philanthropy, namely, alms, infaq and waqf. In the same way, they were also used to analyse solidarity, that is, the spirit of togetherness, collective consciousness and cooperation.

This study showed that Ramadan had a significant impact on the development of social capital in Muslim communities, which is demonstrated by two points: firstly, to strengthen solidarity in a spirit of togetherness, collective consciousness and cooperation during Ramadan, and secondly, to strengthen philanthropy with high frequency and enthusiasm amongst Muslim communities in giving alms, infaq and waqf during this holy month.

Strengthening solidarity

Solidarity refers to a relationship between individuals or communities based on morals and shared emotional experiences (Johnson 1994; Stråth 2017). Moral and fundamental beliefs of solidarity form a sense of togetherness, unity, friendship, responsibility and shared interests. Therefore, Durkheim (1984) argued that solidarity, based on mutual trust between members in a community, will form friendships (Kaplan 2018), mutual respect (Wong 2020), responsibility (Floridi 2016; Nixon 2019) and concern for common interests.

This study shows that the social solidarity of the Muslim community during the month of Ramadan was high with an average of 3.32 and a percentage of 83.8. Of the three dimensions of solidarity, spirit of togetherness the highest position with an average of 3.37 and a percentage of 84.25. The second is occupied by collective awareness with an average of 3.32 and a percentage of 83.00, and in the last position is cooperation with an average of 3.28 and a percentage of 82.00, as shown in Table 2.

TABLE 2: Social solidarity during Ramadan.

The data in Table 2 show that, of the 11 elements of social solidarity, the element of sharing with others, without indicating the status of the spirit of sociality, holds the highest position. The lowest position is to feel happy when working together on the dimension of collaboration. All items in each dimension are in the high category with values ranging from 3.00 to 3.50. For each item, the part without distinguishing the status takes the highest position in the dimension of spirit of togetherness. Then, a shared awareness to maintain harmony in the month of Ramadan, which occupies the highest position in the collective consciousness dimension, remains the responsibility of all citizens. Furthermore, the highest position is the understanding that Ramadan is a force that teaches the community about the importance of cooperation.

Togetherness is the intrinsic value inherent in individuals, that is, cannot be alone, pride to live together, sharing with others and a sense of general responsibility in maintaining harmony in society. Ramadan gives awareness of the importance of others, and it has implications for the emergence of unity. The value of togetherness is reflected in the existence of pride for the Muslim community in performing Ramadan together with the community manifested in philanthropy.

Generally, collective awareness can be interpreted as a consensus with the community in regulating social relationships, and it is based on shared beliefs and feelings. It is built during the month of Ramadan, and the great concern that arises goes beyond social boundaries such as ethnicity and religion. The formation of a collective awareness of Muslim communities that requires them to always care for the suffering of others is based on the spirit that every one of them helps one another regardless of social barriers. This spirit has implications for the birth of a commitment to always share with people that need help, irrespective of their status.

Ramadan builds a general awareness that there is a shared responsibility in building harmony. For Muslim communities, it teaches the importance of cooperation. Its contribution to promote awareness about the essentiality of collaboration correlates with the intensity of cooperation, which led to an increase in the spirit of togetherness amongst the Muslim community. One of the subjective reasons for this is the feeling of being happy whilst working together. Besides, it turns out that collaboration has a subjective effect on the emergence of being happy. This experience gives an impulse to increase the intensity of cooperation in the month of Ramadan.

Three conclusions were generated from this explanation. Firstly, Ramadan has a significant contribution to increase cooperation. Secondly, the increasing intensity of cooperation during Ramadan is based on the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Thirdly, obtaining pleasure and happiness in every collaboration performed becomes the main subjective basis for Muslim communities.

Philanthropy strengthening

Many studies explained that philanthropy is an important force that builds and strengthens community welfare (Hasyim 2018; Latief 2016). In Islam, it holds a very crucial position. The moral requirement for mutual donations, as well as the existence of an Islamic doctrine that confirms that superiority is better than inferiority or that giving is better than receiving, shows that philanthropy is a necessity for Muslim communities.

The analysis showed that the philanthropic dimensions of Muslim communities during Ramadan were in the high category with an average value of 3.27 and a percentage of 81.75. From the three dimensions of philanthropy, alms hold a high position (3.49% or 87.25%), followed by infaq (3.23% or 80.75%) and waqf (3.10 % or 77.50%) as the lowest, as illustrated in Table 3.

TABLE 3: Ramadan and philanthropy.

From Table 3, the 12 statements on each dimension of philanthropy showed that (1) the public statement that Ramadan is the right time to give alms has a very high category, (2) 10 further explanations were added to the upper category with a value ranging between 3.00 and 3.50 and (3) one statement is in the medium category, that is, people are more likely to give waqf in the form of services than property or wealth during Ramadan, with an average of 2.87.

The philanthropy of the Muslim society has three categories, namely, very high, high and moderate. The very high is shown by the perception that Ramadan is the perfect moment for philanthropy. It includes (1) giving alms, even though in small numbers; (2) giving alms to strengthen social relations amongst people; (3) giving alms not only as a form of religious observance but also as a form of social piety; (4) multiplying infaq; (5) always giving infaq even in small amounts; (6) giving infaq, not for social purposes; (7) giving infaq brings happiness; (8) giving waqf can be done in the month of Ramadan; (9) giving waqf not only in the form of property and (10) the use of waqf for education. Meanwhile, the category of philanthropy is being demonstrated by the statement that people tend to give waqf with services rather than assets.

The data show that the dimensions of alms, infaq and waqf as the pillars of philanthropy have been strengthened during Ramadan. It was also driven by the behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad, who became a role model for Muslims and was also more generous in the month of Ramadan.1 Furthermore, each item shows that these three dimensions are not only limited to the aspect of religiosity but also laden with social dimensions, that is, to lighten the burden of others, strengthen relationships and aim at social interests. The social orientation of philanthropy is implied in QS Al-Baqarah (2):215 and QS At-Taubah (9):60. Infaq and alms are given to parents, relatives, orphans, destitute, needy, amil zakat (it’s functionaries) and those whose hearts require to be consoled (in all sincerity), and for the emancipation of the slaves, the relief of those in debt, spending in the cause of Allah (included students) and wayfarer.

Alms, infaq and waqf during Ramadan have a very strong social dimension in Muslim society. Generally, the relatively high frequency of alms is stimulated by the understanding that it is an incentive for Muslim communities to step up their worship activities. This perception affects the growing attitude and enthusiasm in philanthropy, as it is an activity with religious dimensions of individual piety. In addition, it has a social function to strengthen relationships between people.

Similar to alms, infaq also has an important position in the month of Ramadan. It is reflected in QS Al-Baqarah (2):274 that people who spend their wealth by night and day, privately and publicly, will receive their reward from Allah. It has implications on the attitude to give alms in any worst condition during Ramadan. The existence of moral encouragement that requires the Muslim community to increase infaq implies a commitment to always be active in giving. Not only does it give an important position in the development of religion but also it becomes an alternative in meeting the needs of social life, as mentioned in QS Al-Baqarah (2):215 and At-Taubah (9):60. In addition for having a moral motive and for carrying out religious guidance, this function also has implications for moral experience, that is, on becoming happy with the information they provide.

In this context, it can be understood that Ramadan provides strong moral guidance for every Muslim to increase infaq. This moral orientation implies that Muslim societies, no matter how difficult the situation may be, should always try to give infaq. Happiness is motivated by the belief that every Muslim is obliged to practice philanthropy during the month of Ramadan for those that always put part of their wealth aside. In addition to the interests in religious development as an individual, sharing is also a social interest that should be understood by the majority of Muslim communities. Although it is not as high as alms and donations, waqf also increases during the month of Ramadan. The high enthusiasm of the Muslim community in this holy month can be seen from the perception that it should not only be carried out by people who have excess assets because it does not have to be in the form of property. In addition, waqf focuses heavily on social and educational aspects, and this shows that it plays an important role in building the Muslim community’s philanthropy during Ramadan.


The strengthening of solidarity shows that Ramadan restores people’s awareness that alienation has no more value than being together. They need others to meet all their intellectual and social needs. The disagreement for 11 months outside Ramadan is abandoned because it is considered a holy month that blesses all Muslims. In this month, everyone strives to purify themselves by avoiding all forms of prohibited acts, as well as getting closer to the obliged ones. All accomplishments are also considered to have worship values. Because of its importance, many Muslim communities consider Ramadan to be the most important Islamic ritual obligation (Blankinship 1996). For example, even when someone does not pray five times a day, adherence to fasting is still possible (Keenan & Yeni 2003).

All behaviour and worship during this month have a dimension of purity oriented towards piety. Almost all activities are within the framework of purity and piety, and they seek to strengthen social solidarity in Muslim communities.

Contrary to the other months, an obvious separation between sacred and profane was discovered during Ramadan. Activities related to its sacredness are always considered to have a spiritual dimension. Almost everything is spiritualised during Ramadan; a similar case would not happen, except during Ramadan. For example, the palm fruit is considered to have no connection with spirituality outside of Ramadan, but it reaches a spiritual image in the Ramadan period (Odabasi & Argan 2009). In addition, spiritual life is much more important and has a positive effect on the individual. During Ramadan, Muslims enter into new types of social relations with each other. The sense of brotherhood, unity and solidarity amongst the faithful grows higher during this period.

The associated values, enthusiasm and dedication can also be found in Muslim communities, that is, when they are in the same boat and in harmony when they need each other. The existence of equality then forms mutual trust, a shared awareness to build social responsibility. In this context, Ramadan shows not only the increase in piety but also the strengthening of moral and social commitment.

The act of strengthening commitment is considered to be the effect of fasting as a spiritual practice in the discipline of self-centered desires. Furthermore, the feeling of hunger caused by fasting is considered a strength in facilitating social responsibility towards the poor. In general, worship during Ramadan is also triggered by the main motivation, the reward of heaven as promised in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad, ‘All of good things (in Ramadan) would be reward multiplied as 10 to 700 times’.2 It is a time when God graciously rewards believers and forgives their sins. During this month, people should avoid all the big and small mistakes that can be forgiven at other times. This is explained in the two hadiths of Prophet Muhammad that are narrated from Abi Hurairah about the command to abandon heinous deeds3 and the glory of fasting.4 The merit and the blessings of God are quite close during Ramadan,5 likewise are the anger and punishment.6 Although this belief does not only involve practices that are considered moral and sinful, it also implies restrictions with a more ambiguous status (Schielke 2009).

The perception of Ramadan as a holy month, as well as the time of forgiveness and blessing, has implications for the behaviour of Muslim communities, and it plays a very important role in shaping social behaviour (Odabasi & Argan 2009), including philanthropy. Although worship activities are closely linked to personal subjective interests and individual dimensions, they are very socially oriented, as described in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sall am, SAW), ‘Allah will give a reward for whoever that gave people food for break the fast without reduce the reward of the fasting itself’.7 The spirit and values of blessing in the month of Ramadan are the triggers and motives of the Muslim community in philanthropy. Fasting has led to an understanding of the problem of poor people and stimulates kindness and generosity towards them (Shah & Ahmed 2014).

Almost every worship in Islam has a social dimension, such as belief is always associated with good deeds. Therefore, the end of belief is a good act, whilst the areas of pious action are social. Fasting focuses more on a personal relationship with God. However, this has an impact on social religiosity in many ways because the worship associated with it is closely related to social life. Devotion, which is the ultimate goal of fasting, not only has an individual-personal dimension but also guides people towards social piety. In this context, philanthropy in the month of Ramadan, such as alms, infaq and waqf, is an instrument of transformation of Muslim societies from personal to social piety. For this reason, it can be identified as an expression of social piety, an effort to strengthen relations and build awareness amongst people.


This descriptive study has shown that Ramadan gives meaning to the life of the Muslim community by playing an important role in the formation of social behaviour. Internalisation of its value and meaning has not only encouraged religious spirituality but also transformed into a force to social piety. Ramadan transforms individual piety into social ones, where every worship activity holds a very thick dimension.

Contrary to the results of this study, Ramadan has influenced the behaviour and activities of the society, especially Muslims. Through the power of philanthropy, it can be used as a basis or model in building community welfare. Moreover, with the strength of social solidarity, Ramadan can also be transformed into a new power to develop cohesion in a diverse society like Indonesia. For this reason, further research on the development of this model is highly recommended.


This research received a grant from Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengabdian kepada Masyarakat (LPPM UIN) Imam Bonjol Padang. The authors thank the Pusat Penelitian dan Publikasi LPPM UIN Imam Bonjol Padang for all facilities provided to support this research.

Competing interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest in this study.

Authors’ contributions

N.S. and F.F. conceived the presented idea and developed the theory. F.F. and Y.Y. designed and performed the experiments, derived the models and analysed the data. U.W.U. coordinated the implementation of the survey. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript.

Funding information

This research received a grant from LPPM UIN Imam Bonjol Padang.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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1. أ خبرنا يونس عن الزهري قال حدثني عبيد الله بن عبد الله عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس وأجود ما يكون في رمضان حين يلقاه جبريل وكان جبريل عليه السلام يلقاه في كل ليلة من رمضان فيدارسه القرآن فلرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسل م أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة ( صحيح البخاري ٣٢٩٠ )

2. عن أبي صالح عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم كل عمل ابن آدم يضاعف الحسنة عشرة أمثالها إلا سبعمائة ضعف قال الله عز و جل إلا الصوم فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به يدع ش هوته وطعامه من أجلي للصائم فرحتان فرحة عند فطره وفرحة عند لقاء ربه ولخلوف فيه أطيب عند الله من ريح المسك ( صحيح مسلم : ١١٥١)

3. عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من لم يدع قول ال زور والعمل به والجهل فليس لله حاجة ان يدع طعامه وشرابه ( صحيح البخاري : ١٩٠٣ )

4. عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الصيام جنة فلا يرفث ولا يجهل وإن امرؤ قاتله أو شاتمه فليقل إني صائم مرتين والذي نفسي بيد ه لخلوف فم الصائم أطيب عند الله تعالى من ريح المسك يترك طعامه وشرابه وشهوته من أجلي الصيام لي وأنا أجزي به والحسنة بعشر أمثالها ( صحيح البخاري ١٧٦١ )

5. عن الزهري عن أبي سلمة عن أبي هريرةيبل غ به النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم من صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه ومن قام ليلة القدر إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه ( سنن وأبو داود : ١١٦٥)

6. عن عبد الملك بن أبي سليمان عن عطاء عن زيد بن خالد ا لجهني قالقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من فطر صائما كان له مثل أجره غير أنه لا ينقص من أجر الصائم شيئا ( سنن الترمذي : ٧٣٥ )

7. عن عبد الملك بن أبي سليمان عن عطاء عن زيد بن خالد الجهني قالقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من فطر صائما كان له مث ل أجره غير أنه لا ينقص من أجر الصائم شيئا ( سنن الترمذي : ٧٣٥ )

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