Islam and contemporary view of Development

Over the course of last century development economist remained profoundly betrothed in sorting out the factors which could bring prosperity to human society. Given in evidence of religion fanaticism, they remained indecisive about the extensive role that religion can play in development process. Rather, secularist believed that wide spread technological and industrial expansion would oblige the natives of Earth to abort it from their instincts.

However, rise of Christianity in USA, spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Asia and Africa and incessant indulging of East Europe in religious activities after the fall of USSR forced the governing bodies to think that development process cannot inhale in religious vacuum.

How then religious doctrine can be mingled into evaluation and practice of modern view of development? To comprehend it, we first have to grapple the contemporary view of development and evolution of its relationship with religion.

World War II, above and beyond its haunting destructions, proved efficacious and poignant venue for affluent nations to specter the phantom of poverty enthralling over a large proportion of population of world. Besides the interests of America in exploiting the resource potential of those poverty-stricken areas and of USSR in establishing its development models — idealism, altruism, morality, justice and a vision of better world for all — enticed people to fight a crusade against the poverty. This crusade was named Development Economics and its virtual objective was to help world in achieving emancipation from backwardness.

In the early years of its emergence, development economics was subjugated by economist, according to whom the only way to develop was increase in national income or the fulfillment of basic needs. Consequently, economic development remained the synonym of development for long time and economist remained the mainstream strategist of this crusade.

Unfortunately, mounting per capita incomes, escalating velocity of modernization and industrialization processes and increased globalization remained malfunction to instigate the wretched world to dynamism. It was for the first time in the academic history of development economics, when all functionaries of society including economists were invited to bridge up the gap between economic well being and ‘development’.

Outcome is apparent. It is realized recently that in order to make the economic well being sufficient– institutional, intellectual and skill advancements are obligatory. Accordingly, present-day view of development includes a whole range of strategies initiating from the provision of basic needs and climaxing at the capacity building by the generation and application of knowledge.

Describing briefly the journey that development economics has covered, I now move to explore the history of relationship between religion and development. They shared the same magnitude of time in the history of mankind. Religion was believed to be the foundation of elucidation and animating impulse for all human advancement till Europe fell long in Dark ages. Subsequently the consolidation of Islam in South Asia after fifteenth century also proved ephemeral.

This long period perverted the relationship of these two human instincts, resulting into era where religion was seen as antithetical to reason. Even Max Weber’s attempt to regard Protestant Reformation as the spirit of Capitalism in 1905, faded away and could not revitalize the sheer role of religion.

In the last quarter of 20th century when application and generation of knowledge was given higher precedence in development agenda, correlation between religion and development experienced resurrection. Knowledge is both spiritual and material, was already understood. But it was the point of time when knowledge of religion was considered necessary to put into practice for development. (continued)


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