The increasing poverty in many parts of the world and the impact on the environment has led many people to question the meaning of development.
In mid twentieth century development was measured mainly in terms of economic growth. Those countries which had the most economic growth were viewed at developing the fastest.
However these countries also experienced acute social problems, such as crime, racism, inner city decline, drug abuse, alienation, family and community breakdown, and the growth of an underclass.
Development equated solely with economic growth also led the global problems, such as the divide between the North and the South, and the impact on the environment. Developed countries achieved their economic growth in some cases at the expense of the poor nations.
The quality of life and integrated development
As the twentieth century drew to a close, broader meanings of development were suggested. While economic growth was seen as an essential aspect of development, so were social development, culture and the care of environment.
In many countries people searched for a lifestyle where material wealth was not only their aim in life. Aspects such as health, creative use of leisure, access to nature, self development, and spiritual contentment were considered as equally important.
Happiness is not something that can be guaranteed by wealth alone. Human beings by nature are more than material beings, and seek for non-material pursuits in their lives. A broader understanding of development takes into account aspirations related to both material and non-material human life.
Material and spiritual balance
The balance between material and spiritual aspects of life is one of the central tenets in the Islamic vision. Human beings are not only physical entities, but have the divine spark within them. The physical side of a person reflects only one of his or her being. It has to be viewed alongside other facets such as the intellectual, the cultural, the social and the spiritual.
Islam is concerned with both din and dunya, spirit and matter, distinct but linked, neither to be forsaken. Din is the spiritual life of a believer expressed through an active relationship with the sacred. The earthly life, dunya is a preparation for the life to come.
In the Ismaili tariqa of Shia Islam, this principle is given great emphasis. The Imam guides the murids on seeking a balanced life in the changing circumstances of each age. He alerts them to their material and spiritual responsibilities.
From an Islamic perspective. development is viewed as both material and spiritual; one is not possible without the other. The spiritual guides and inspires the material, while the material reflects the spiritual. A murid seeks to be whole by attending to both the material and the spiritual in his or her life.
Culture and development
The principle of the balance between the material and the spiritual also applies to the development of communities and societies. Development from an Islamic viewpoint includes economic progress, but it is also concerned with the cultural, intellectual and spiritual development of a community.
One of the major spheres of development for the AKDN institutions is culture. In seeking to improve the quality of life of people in need, AKDN programmes do not focus solely on material progress. A central principle in their work is to integrate the material progress within the larger context of the cultural life of the people who are being helped. Culture is recognised as a vital clement in the overall development of a community.
Hunza Development Forum (HDF)- A Civil Society Platform
I would like to apprise you of a new approach adopted here in Hunza (part of Gilgit and Baltistan) that could be the future for many societies. In an era of rising expectations and unmet needs in our part of the world, the civil society sector plays an essential role in the provision of social services, the protection of the marginalized, the delivery of development programmes and the promotion of good governance. Its work is especially critical where governments are weak or non-performing. The concept aims at generating a common long term vision amongst wide array of organizations that have a presence in public life, including faith-based and charitable organisations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour unions, professional associations and foundations, village and women’s groups, neighbourhood self-help groups, social movements, business associations, microcredit organizations, coalitions, advocacy groups and above all the government. With this aim we are working to strengthen this concept through HDF (Hunza Development Forum). The attached extracts from our web site (www.kadohunza.org/hdf and http://hisamullahbeg.blogspot.com) will give you a fuller picture. I hope you will take out some minutes from your busy schedule to grasp the concept and extend help achieving the noble targets for the common good of community in this part of the world.
Specifically I am seeking following information with future possibilities for collaboration:
information about university/institutional programs in specific areas of Alternative Energy, Hydro-power, Earth Sciences, Social Sciences, Skill Development programs in Gems, Fisheries, Furniture, tourism and Languages, their costs, prerequisites for participation and any enabling provisions by the institution/governments and actions to avail the opportunities.