Is development accumulation of wealth? Islamic Views

One theme of this paper is that development refers to improvement in HUMANITY, and by this standard, moral decline of west proves that they have not been progressing as they have accumulated wealth. One excerpt from the paper deals with the widely believed myth of Objective History, according to which there is an accessbile objective version of history, which should be preferred to biased renderings. 

Original Title: Development: Myths and Truths  (attached as DevMythTruths at BOTTOM of page). Title was changed to Heading on page at referees suggestion. Also references and citations were added and some minor modifications were made -- the final  PRE-PRINT version is available as AZ_Dev2 (doc and pdf) at bottom of page. The publlished version can be downloaded from the JOURNAL webpage:  Afro Eurasian Studies

Click on Title to download final published version of the article: (or download from bottom of this webpage)

IsDevelopment Accumulation of Wealth? Islamic Views,”  Afro Eurasian Studies, Volume 2, Issues 1 & 2,  Aug. 2013. 


For the majority of readers, this article will present ideas directly in conflict with their core beliefs. This is because core beliefs of the dominant Western civilization have spread far and wide via educational systems as well as ever expanding nets of media. Many of these western core beliefs are in direct conflict with Islamic ideas, but the conflicts are not apparent to most Muslims.  A collection of core beliefs, or a paradigm, is the framework we use to understand the world we live in. This means that core beliefs are not really open to discussion or even visible – they are buried within the foundations of our thought processes about the real world.  Standard methods of logic and argumentation, compiling of evidence, etc. are not effective in changing core beliefs.  This is because core beliefs are a coherent collection of inter-related ideas which are fundamental to the way we look at the world around. When we encounter data or evidence against a core belief, then a large variety of “insulating” strategies are used to prevent us from having to change the core belief.  Occasionally,  a huge amount of compelling evidence can force a change in a core belief. This creates a “revolution” because we cannot simply change a core belief – we have to re-adjust the entire collection of core beliefs and change the framework we use for understanding the world. In a sense to be explained further below, the world we live in changes when our core beliefs change.

It is our contention that Islam brought about a revolution in knowledge that changed the course of human lives forever. The first lines of the Quran revealed to the Prophet Mohammad S.A.W. are powerfully infused with the importance of knowledge:

96:1 Read: In the name of thy Lord who createth,

96:2 Createth man from a clot.

96:3 Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous,

96:4 Who teacheth by the pen

96:5 Teacheth man that which be knew not. 


The very first command of the Lord of Creation is to READ, and the very first bounty mentioned is to teach man that which he knows not. It is this knowledge that transformed the lives of those who absorbed the message of Islam, and created a revolution in the world. Today that knowledge has been lost, even by the Muslims – it was prophesied that Islam came as a stranger, and will become a stranger.  To understand this claim, one must differentiate between theoretical knowledge and applied knowledge. This is the difference between reading a book on surgery, and actually performing surgery or driving.  The theoretical knowledge of  Islam is perfectly preserved, as was promised to us by Allah. The practical knowledge is promised to us conditional on our struggle to realize these teachings in our lives and in the world around us (just as surgery is learnt by experience). Today the Muslims are struggling for diverse ends, but few are engaged in the struggle to spread the good and to prohibit the evil that surrounds us. One of the obstacles is that the goals and methodology of this struggle for justice have become obscured by the spread of a large number of false ideas, which have become deeply rooted. 
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newspaper article  Apr 5, 2017, 6:31 AM Asad Zaman

Recent talk at NIMS (apr 2016), with some related material  Jul 22, 2016, 12:13 AM Asad Zaman