, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 2207-2229
Date: 07 Jan 2014

Unnoticed but important: revealing the hidden contribution of community-based religious institution of the mosque in disasters

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Abstract

The role of community-based religious institutions has been largely undocumented, underestimated and overshadowed in the disaster studies literature. This paper explores the role of the mosque, a community-based religious institution, in disaster management by documenting and analysing its role in rural settings in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. The study examines the role of the mosque in relation to key actors from the state, civil society and private sector during response, relief, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation phases of the Pakistan earthquake. Using qualitative research methods and a case study design, this article analyses primary data collected through 5 months of fieldwork (in 2009 and 2010). The findings demonstrate the multifaceted and distinct contribution of the mosque in cultural, economic, social and political aspects of the lives of the earthquake-affected communities. Possible challenges to engagement with the mosque, both gender inclusiveness and political controversy around its role, are also raised. This research suggests that state, civil society and private sector actors involved in disaster management need to understand complex relationships involving people and their religious institutions, and their impact on the social dimension of recovery. The findings of the study contribute to the scarce knowledge about the role of community-based religious institutions including churches, mosques, synagogues and temples and call for engagement: that is, acknowledging and valuing their role for building a synergy between secular and religious efforts for disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery.