Development and Religion

Development and Religion

Theology and Practice

Matthew Clarke

Development and Religion explores how the world’s five major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam – understand and practice ‘development’ through an examination of their sacred texts, social teaching and basic beliefs.

Chapter 6: Islam: Equality and Action

Matthew Clarke

Subjects: development studies, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, social policy in emerging countries


OVERVIEW OF BELIEFS Introduction Islam derives its name from the human experience to which this faith gives rise. The word ‘Islam’ is based on the root s-l-m, which has two connotations – peace and surrender. Thus, Islam means the peace that results from surrendering one’s life to God (Smith 1991). The historical figure upon which Islam rests is Muhammad.1 Adherents of Islam are known as Muslims, and are the third ‘people of the book’, sharing a common Abrahamic ancestry with Judaism and Christianity. There are 1.3 billion Muslims (20 per cent of the global population) worldwide. Nearly 70 per cent of all Muslims live in Asia (including the Middle East), while just over a quarter live in Africa. Indonesia’s nearly 200 million Muslims makes it the country with the highest number of adherents to this religion. Only a small percentage of Europe’s population are Muslim (around 2.5 per cent), and there are even fewer in North America (0.5 per cent of the population), Latin America (0.15 per cent) and Oceania (0.05 per cent) (O’Brien and Palmer 2007). Islam is the state religion of 25 countries. As Islam originates within the Abrahamic tradition, it is a monotheist religion. Indeed, the term for God within Islam is Allah, which literally means ‘the God’. The shared history of Islam and Judaism (and Christianity) is common up to the time of Abraham. According to the Islamic and Jewish (and Christian) faith, God created man and woman – Adam and Eve. Their descendants led to Noah. Noah...

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