Unit 7 Choices and possibilities

                Overview of the unit

7.1    Guardians or consumers?
In this final unit we conclude our exploration of development by examining some broad questions. In recent decades, a new debate has emerged that raises questions about both development and conservation. We examine this debate and its implications for people in developed and developing countries. We also review the ethical ideas in the message of Islam that provide us with a direction for the future.
7.2    The material and the spiritual
In this section, we explore more deeply the meaning of development. We examine some of the meanings that are associated with this concept and the implications that carry. We discuss development in terms of what people aspire towards when they seek to improve the quality of their life. We also study this concept from the perspective of Islam in terms of the balance between the spiritual and material aspects of the life.
7.3    One world
The final section leads us to think of the future of humanity in the twenty first century. We identify some of the major issues that human beings may have to confront in the new century. We also examine the choices that societies and communities will need to make to respond to these challenges. We conclude by asking what role Muslims can play in working towards a better future for all human beings.
7.1    Guardians or consumers?

Are there limits to growth?

Since the nineteenth century, a growing number of countries have become industrialized. In the twenty first century, this number is expected to increase. As the pace of development increases in countries around the world, new dilemmas are arising for human beings.
Developing countries wish to become industrialized so that they can improve their standards of living. At the same time, developed countries are determined to maintain and increase the progress they have made.
Rapid economic growth around the world is leading to a depletion of natural resources. It is also having a serious impact on ecology, such as environmental pollution, the damage to the ozone layer, climatic change, global warming resulting in desertification and the melting of polar ice caps, and the extinction of plants and animal species.
The world population also increasing, leading to additional demands on energy and resources. Many are asking whether there are limits to growth.

The debate between development and conservation

In developed countries there is a growing movement for conservation of natural resources. Those who support conservation wish to see limits placed on activities such as fishing and forestry. They call for the preservation of wild life and nature reserves. They also want their governments to convert from non renewable to renewable energy sources.
The developing countries on the other hand have put forward a strong argument for the continuing progress of their countries. They do not think it is fair for limits to be placed on their economic growth which the developed countries have already achieved. They also point out that developed nations currently consume far greater energy and natural resources than the majority of the world.
To attain a higher standard living, developing countries will need increasing energy and resources, just as the developed nations did when they were becoming industrialised, for developing countries with very large populations, such as China and India, the demand on natural resources will be significantly higher.

Towards sustainable growth

In recent years, the United Nations has promoted the concept of stainable development. Human beings should seek to develop themselves in such a way that they will not harm the planet earth, or future generations who will depend on life-support systems of the earth for their survival.
There is a growing awareness around the world that each generation of human beings acts as trustees or guardians of the earth for future generations. No generation has the right to destroy or damage the planet at the expense of others who are to follow.
How to attain sustainable development, however, is not an easy question to answer? It involves addressing the question of how all thee countries can continue to improve the quality of life of their people without damaging the planet.
It is becoming evident that a purely consumerists approach is not the answer. The earth as a life support system for humans cannot withstand ways of life that encourage greed, wastage and corruption of the balanced order of nature. It is vital that alternative solutions be identified of how best to bring about development that allows human beings to make wise use of the limited resources they have.

Guardians of the earth — the Islamic message

The principle of sustainable development is in keeping with the ethical principles of Islam. Human beings have been appointed by God as his vicegerants on earth. They are the custodians of God’s creation.
God has singled out human beings and given them reason. We have the capacity to understand the order that is around us. We are guided to live in harmony with the natural order that supports us and gives us life. The Quran urges us to adopt a middle path in our lives, and not to upset the balance set out for us:
The All merciful has taught the Quran, He created man. He taught him speech. The sun and the moon are made punctual.

And the stars and the trees bow down. And the sky. He raised it High and He has set the Balance That you may not transgress the Balance
and weigh with justice and do not fall short of it. And the earth He set it down for, His creatures In which are fruit and sheathed palm trees and husked grain and scented herb.
Which then of the favours of your will you deny? (55:1-13)
The ethics of Islam guides us to act with moderation and not to be wasteful:
‘It is God who produces gardens trellised and untrelised
and palm trees and crops of various kinds
and olives and pomegranates like and unlike.
eat of their fruit when they bear fruit and pay the due on it
on the day of its harvest and be not wasteful God loves not the wasters.‘ (6:141)
Muslims, like other communities, are responsible for safeguarding the planet so that it remains a home to all human beings.
‘let there be one group of people among you who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong Such are they who are successful.‘ (3:104)

The Earth Summit

A global plan of action

In June 1992, the United Nations organised an international conference, called the Earth Summit, in Rio de janeiro, Brazil. This was the largest world meeting ever held until then. and brought Heads of State and government officials together. Also present at the conference were a large number of international Organisatlons and non government organisations (NGOs) from around the world.
The Earth Summit resulted in a global plan of action called ‘Agenda 21’. It represents the agreement reached by 178 States on how human beings can safeguard their future. Agenda 21 is based on co-operation between developed and developing countries. It aims at preserving the environment while ensuring a healthy economy for all countries.
Agenda 21 addresses the critical issues we face as a global community: continuing damage to the environment, the problem of poverty, hunger and ill health, increasing world population and illiteracy. Agenda 21 identifies these major challenges and proposes realistic solutions towards sustainable development. It seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Governments, businesses. non-governmental and other organisations around the world pledged in the Earth Summit to put the ideas from Agenda 21 to work. This task will require not only leadership and binding from governments and businesses, but also the active participation of every citizen. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without everyone working together.    
Agenda 21-is laid out in a 700-page document, divided into tour parts and forty chapters. Each chapter begins with a preamble that identifies a major objective that needs attention. The following summary of Agenda 21 identifies some of these objectives.

1. Linking society, economy and nature

Preamble to Agenda 21: No nation can secure its future alone, but all countries can assure themselves of a safer more prosperous future by dealing with environment and development issues TOGETHER in global partnership.
The Role of TRADE: Trade and environment should be mutually supportive since international economic relations and the economic policies of every country have great relevance to sustainable development.
Combating POVERTY: Poverty is caused by illiteracy, inadequate medical care, unemployment and population pressures. The poor need access to basic education and health care, safe water and sanitation and to resources, especially land.
Changing CONSUMPTION PAYTERNS: New concepts of wealth and prosperity which are more in harmony with the Earth’s carrying capacity need to be developed particularly in the industrialised countries. Individuals need to accept that they have choices when making decisions about their own consumption patterns.
POPULATION Dynamics: The world’s population is expected to exceed 8 billion by the year 2020 Countries need to know their national population carrying capacity and deal with the combination of population growth,. Health of the ecosystem, technologies and access to resources.
Protecting and Promoting HEALTH: Every year in the developing world, nearly 15 million children under 15 die from infection and malnutrition. Human health depends on a healthy environment, clean water supply, sanitary waste disposal, adequate shelter arid healthy food. The overall goal is health for all by the year 2000.
Sustainable Human Settlements: By the year 2000 half the world’s population will be living in cities. Governments should reduce migration to the big cities by improving rural living and see that the homeless get access to land, credit and low-cost building materials.
MAKING DECISIONS for Sustainable Development: There is a tendency to treat the environment as a ‘free good’ and to pass the cost of environmental damage to other parts of society, other countries or future generations. Nations and corporate enterprises should integrate environmental protection and restoration costs their decision-making.

2.    How can we protect our resources?

Protecting the ATMOSPHERE: Our atmosphere is under increasing pressure from greenhouse gases that threaten to change the climates and chemicals that reduce the ozone layer. Greater energy efficiency out of existing power stations is needed as well as developing new, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind. hydro, ocean and human power, while reducing reliance on non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels.
Combating DEFORESTATION: There is a need for concerted international research and conservation efforts to control the harvesting of forests by promoting indigenous technologies and agro forestry and expanding the shrunken world-forest cover.
Combating DESERTIFICATION: Desertification and ought result in poverty and starvation, which brings out more soil degradation. One of the major tools to ht the spread of deserts is the planting of trees and her plants that retain water and maintain soil quality.
MOUNTAIN Development: About 10% of the Earth’s population lives in mountain areas, while about 40% occupies watershed areas below. Measures are needed protect mountain ecosystems from erosion, landslides and the rapid loss of habitat, animals and plant life.
AGRICULTURE and Rural Development: The world’s long-term ability to meet the growing demand for food and other agricultural products is uncertain. The priority must be to maintain and improve the capacity of agricultural lands with new technologies to support an expanding population.
Conservation of BIODIVERSITY: The use of biological resources to feed and clothe us, to provide us with housing and medicines accelerates the loss of bio-diversity. Urgent and decisive action is needed to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems.
Protection of the OCEANS: Oceans are under increasing stress from pollution, over-fishing and general degradation. Nations must control and reduce the pollution of the marine environment and maintain its life support capacity.
Protecting and Managing WATER: In the developing world, one person .in three lacks safe drinking water and sanitation — basic requirements for health and dignity. A clean up of the most obvious sources of pollution is needed in order to have safe water and sanitation for all by the year 2025.
Management of TO IC CHEMICALS: There are presently no less than 100,000 commercial man-made chemicals. Countries need to develop and share expertise for a sound management of toxic chemicals and prevent illegal international traffic in toxic and dangerous products.
SOLID WASTE and SEWAGE: Growing quantities of garbage and sewage from our cities pose threats to our health and environment. An urban waste prevention approach needs to be implemented so that by 2010. all countries should have national plans for waste management.
RADIOACTIVE WASTE: The use of radioactive substances is glowing in nuclear power production of electricity, medicine, research and industry and so is the waste. It is important to ensure training and financial support to developing countries that have nuclear programs to ensure safe and responsible management.


    agro forestry – the cultivation and conservation of forests
    biodiversity – the variety of plant and animal life
    consumption – process of using up resources
    corporate enterprises – business companies and corporations
    desertification – the expansion of desert area due to soil erosion
    ecosystem – a system of organisms in interaction with their environment
    greenhouse gases – gases that contribute to global warming by trapping the sun’s heat in the lower atmosphere
    habitat – the natural home of an organism or life-form
    non-renewable energy sources – sources of energy that can only be used once e.g. coat or oil
    ozone layer – a layer in the earth’s atmosphere made of ozone gas that absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet radiation
    radioactive substances – substances used for producing nuclear power that emit radiation
     renewable energy sources – sources of energy that can be recycled or used continuously e.g. solar or wind power
    toxic – poisonous

3. Who can make a difference?

WOMEN: Governments are urged to give girls equal access to education, to make health-care systems responsive to women’s needs, and to bring women into full participation in social, cultural and public life.
CHILD.REN and YOUTH: Children and youth make up nearly one-third of the world population. Governments are urged to combat abuse of the rights of youth, especially females in certain cultures, and to ensure that all children have access to education.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS: Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) form a network in both developed and developing countries and play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy which is integral to the implementation of sustainable development.
BUSINESS and INDUSTRY: Responsible behaviour in the private sector is a prerequisite to achieving sustainable development. Entrepreneurship can play a major role in improving the efficiency of resource use, minimising wastes and protecting human health and environmental quality.
SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY: Scientists and technologists (engineers, architects. industrial designers, urban planners, and other professionals) have special responsibilities to search for knowledge and to help protect the biosphere.
FARMERS: Farmers are directly responsible for one third of the land surface of the earth. They require economic and technical assistance that will encourage them to implement self-sufficient, low-input and low- energy agricultural practices. Women, who do much of the world’s farming, should have access to tenure and the use of land, to credits and technologies.

4. Where do we start?

FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Developing nations need free trade and access to markets in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. Special attention should be given to nations whose economies are in transition.
Transfer of TECHNOLOGY: Scientific knowledge ca help prevent shortages of energy, water an non renewable resources. Developing countries should access environmentally-sound technology and know- how through a collaborative international network of laboratories.
SCIENCE for Sustainable Development: In the face of threats of irreversible environmental damage, improved knowledge of the earth’s systems is crucial as well as the integration of the natural, social and engineering sciences.
EDUCATION and PUBLIC AWARENESS: Education gives people the environmental and ethical awareness values and attitudes, skills and behaviour needed for sustainable development. Because sustainable development must ultimately involve everyone, access to education must be increased for all children and adult- illiteracy must he reduced.
CREATING CAPACIT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: All countries share the need to strengthen national capabilities. Developing countries especially need to build their own capacity to implement Agenda 21 in co-operation with UN organisations, developed countries and with each other.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND MECHANISMS: It is essential that all countries and all sectors within countries, participate in the negotiation of international agreements that create effective international standards for environmental protection.


    biosphere – that part of the earths surface and atmosphere :inhabited by living organisms
    entrepreneurship – actions or undertakings that involve risk or initiative
    credit – permission to obtain goods or services before payment
    irreversible – unchangeable
    participatory democracy – form of government in which all the people participate
    prerequisite – required a prior condition
    private sector– that part of a country’s economy which is not under state control
    tenure – rights to holding property

Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text

    What are some factors in the twenty-first century that are likely to effect the environment and the use of natural resources?
    What are some of the global problems that have arisen as a result of rapid economic growth?
    What debate has taken place in recent years on the dilemma between development and conservation?
    What is meant by ‘sustainable development’?
    What does the ethics of Islam teach us about our relation to the created world?
    How has the United Nation tried to promote the idea of sustainable development?
    What are some major objectives identified in Agenda 21?


Take part in a class debate based on the topic ‘Development or Conservation?’ Examine with your class some of the major points for and against each approach.
Make a poster that reflects the following theme: ‘Development means meeting the needs of today’s generations without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs’. Another theme that you can consider is ‘Think globally, act locally’.
Identify additional references in the Quran, the hadis and the guidance of the Imams that relate to the responsibilities of human beings as trustees of God.
Select one of the objectives identified in Agenda 21. Develop a plan that shows how your local community can contribute towards achieving this objective at the local level.


What debate has arisen in recent years on the dilemma between development and conservation?


    Conservation
    Consumerism
    Global warming
    Sustainable development


Select a major global or ecological issue that people across the world face today. Find out what questions it raises for the people of your country?


Review the AKDN programmes and projects that you have studied in this module. Which objective of Agenda 21 is addressed by the AKDN Agencies?


‘The planet earth has enough resources to meet the needs of all the people who live on it.’ To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view? Explain your reasons for your view.

Examine critically the concept of sustainable development. Discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.

In the twenty-first century, It Is becoming Increasingly Important to find approaches that achieve sustainable development without damaging the life-support system of the earth.
7.2    The Material and the spiritual

The meaning of Development

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 inte1lectual, 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 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 lire 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.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is the main agency in the AKDN responsible for cultural development. Its programmes include the preservation and restoration of historic sites in Muslim societies. It also aims to educate people about the history, culture and heritage of Muslim societies through programmes such as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Historic sites under threat

Like the natural environment, the historical and cultural environments of developing countries are under threat, In developed countries governments have taken steps to safeguard their historic sites so that they are not destroyed or damaged. In developing nations, urban expansion has put many historic sites in danger. Poor countries do not have the resources needed to protect their cultural heritage, since they have to attend to priorities such as the health and education of their people.
In Muslim countries, there are many historic cities arid sites that are desperately in need of preservation. They are an important part of the history of Muslim societies and form a valuable part of their cultural heritage.
Some international organisations, such as UNESCO, play a key role in ensuring that historic sites in countries around the world are preserved. The AKTC also has been involved in restoring a number of important sites in different cities, such as Cairo, Mostar, Samarkand, Zanzibar and Kabul.
What kinds of Muslim societies for the future
In the following speech, Mawlana Hazir Imam raises the question of whether material progress by itself is enough for people to lead fulfilled lives. The Imam draws attention to the principles which Muslim societies need to take into account in shaping their future.


Convocation Address at Peshawar University
Mawlana Hazir Imam
November 30, 1967 Peshawar Pakistan
‘Material progress apart, I do not think it should ever be assumed that only the smaller, poorer nations are faced by apparently insoluble problems. Western Europe and North America possess much that can be envied. They also face social and moral conflicts which are far more daunting than known in Asia or Africa. Increasingly, I believe, thinking people both in Europe and America are asking: Where is this all prosperity leading us? Are we any happier? Do we get as much satisfaction out of living as did our fathers and forefathers?
‘These indeed are relevant, urgent questions. There has been a fundamental challenge to the traditional and in this case, mainly Christian religious values. The younger generation has almost completely forsaken its churches. The pressure of an acquisitive society has made quite frightening demands on family. Mothers with younger children go out to work in the, millions. The juvenile crime rate soars upwards, homes are broken, and the family unit itself is undermined at its source.
‘The working family in the West can earn all the money it needs in four or five days a week — and then with only six hours work a day. Its capacity for leisure is growing every year. But what does the family do with it? Look at television? Perhaps… But what will be seen on television? Are they any nearer the complete and contented man of all our dreams?
‘Few would risk an affirmative answer to these questions. What has been called the permissive society where anything goes, nothing matters, nothing is sacred or private any more, is not a promising foundation for a brave and upright new world. This fearful chase after material ease must surely be tempered by peace of mind, by conscience, by moral values, which must be resuscitated. If not, man will simply have converted the animal instinct of feeding himself before others and even at the expense of others, into perhaps a more barbaric instinct of feeding himself and then hoarding all he can at the cost of the poor, the sick and the hungry.
‘It would be wrong and very foolish not to recognise that the developed industrial countries also have much from which the new nations can learn. The picture is not all dark but it might well deteriorate.
‘The West has achieved, on the whole, a degree of political stability and administrative efficiency which other parts of the world cannot but envy. West has won the freedom to enjoy, and at times often slips into the license of abusing, the pursuits of leisure and culture. They have won this freedom, not for a ‘privileged few, but for the great mass of their people
Two questions arise. First, do we wish for the developing nations of the world similar freedom to enjoy a more prosperous life? There can be no doubt that the answer is “yes”.
The second question is more delicate. If the developing nations succeed in raising the standards of living to such extent that there is far greater freedom and privilege to enjoy leisure, how is this leisure to be used, and what values will govern its use?
‘It is here that the East, that Asia, nay that this very university can contribute something of primordial and everlasting value. It is my deepest conviction that if Islamic society is to avoid following blindly the course of Western society without taking the trouble to raise guards against the latter’s weaknesses and deficiencies, a thorough rediscovery, revitalisation and reintegration of our traditional values must be achieved.
‘They must be drawn forth from under the decades of foreign rule which have accumulated like thick sets of paper that have rested for generations on top of the finest oriental painting making the edges turn yellow, the centre piece remaining as colourful and lively, for us to discover, as when it was originally completed. In all forms of art, painting, calligraphy, architecture, city planning; in all forms of science, medicine, astrronomy, engineering; in all expressions of thought, philosophy, ritualism, spiritualism, it is of fundamental importance that our own traditional values and attitudes should permeate our new society.
‘It would be traumatic if those pillars of the Islamic way of life, social justice, equality, humility and generosity, enjoined upon us all, were to lose their force or wide application in our young society. It must never be said generations hence that, in our greed for the material good of the rich West, we have forsaken our responsibilities to the poor, to the orphans, to the traveller, to the single woman.
‘The day we no longer know how, nor have the time nor the faith to bow in prayer to Allah, because the human soul that He has told us is eternal is no longer of sufficient importance to us to be worthy of an hour of our daily working, profit-seeking time, will be a sunless day of despair.
‘It is eminent seats of learning such as this that can synthesise and transmit to the younger generations the proper balance between the Western search of well being and the Eastern spiritual, human and cultural traditions. I believe the future does reserve better standards of living for us than what we have at present, but in order to enjoy them fully, we must know today what will be the fundamental principles of our lives tomorrow.’

Source: The lnstftu of Ismaili Studies Website (http://www.iis.co.uk/learning/speeches_ak4/introduction.html)

accumulatcd – gathered    
    acquisitive – eager to acquire things, materialistic        
    affirmative – answering ‘yes’ to a question    
    conscience – the moral sense of right and wrong    
daunting– frightening, disheartening.
    deficiencies – aspects that are lacking vitality or life to something
    eminent – above others in rank; distinguished
hoarding – storing or accumulating more than one’s rewired share
    juvenile – youth
    oriental – of Eastern civilisation
    permeate – penetrate throughout; pervade
    permissive – free, tolerant, giving permission
    primordial; original, fundamental
    resuscitated– brought back to life, restored
    revitalisation – restoring of life or vitality to others
    synthesise – combine into a greater whole
    tempered – made moderate
    traumatic – distressing

Bringing back to life a historic site
A place full of history

In the following case study, we examine a development project being undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in Cairo that reflects an integrated approach to development. The project is part of a wider effort to restore and revitalise the old city of Cairo. In carrying out this work, the AKTC is keen to integrate cultural restoration with economic and social development.
Darb al-Ahmar is a densely populated area in the heart of Cairo. It is located near the al-Azhar Mosque and the popular bazaar. Khan al-Khalili. This area is currently the site of a number of large-scale projects, such as the construction of a tunnel, a pedestrian square, new parking and commercial facilities, and .the creation of a thirty-hectare park. The AKTC is involved in the restoration of the thirteenth century Ayyubid city wall and other monuments in Darb al-Ahmar.
These projects will dramatically improve the image of the old city of Cairo over the next few years. They will attract many new visitors and bring economic benefits to the residents. But they also present serious risks. The new improvements could lead to uncontrolled growth in the area, driving out the current residents with their traditional patterns of life. In anticipation of these risks. the AK’l’C developed a plan of action to guide future projects in this area.

Issues and opportunities

Darb al-Ahrnar suffers from weaknesses commonly found throughout the old city of Cairo, such as:
Low family incomes and economic activities that lag behind those in newer parts of Cairo:

Poor and overcrowded housing resulting from bad planning laws:
Deterioration of historic monuments, buildings and structures
The absence of essential community facilities and services.

However. Darb al-Ahmar also has important strengths that offer opportunities. These assets include:

A layout that integrates housing, open spaces, shops, and mosques, and that brings people together;
A famous collection of medieval monuments and historic buildings:
A residential space where neighbours help and depend upon each other:
A well-established community largely employed in productive activities: and

An important pool of skilled workers engaged in small-scale trade
Residents of this area view Darb al-Ahmar as their permanent home and are ready to invest their own resources to improve their living conditions.

Pilot projects

Takng into account these risks and opportunities. AKTC decided to extend its planning. It consulted widely with national and municipal institutions. neighbourhood representatives, local businessman, as well as people living in the area.
These discussions helped to identify a number of pilot projects. The aim of these projects was to improve the living conditions through the preservation and careful developrnent of the area.
The long-term goal for Darb al-Ahinar is to stop the sent decay, and improve living, leisure and working conditions for the residents, it sees a future in winch residents are able to earn their living through a tern of small workshops and retail activities, supported by essential community facilities, and market store attractive by well-maintained open spaces and monuments.
Thee improvement programme also aims to create work opportunities for unemployed young people and to provide health and educational facilities, particularly for women and children. It also hopes to strengthen local institutions and groups to steer future actions in the area, and to maintain the historic monuments and buildings.

Restoring historic buildings

Darb al-Ahmar has some of medieval Cairo’s finest and most admired monuments. It has sixty-five major monuments, and several hundred buildings that give this area its unique character. Their long-term preservation is crucial for the area, and they should play an important role in attracting visitors.
One of the monuments that is in need of attention is the fourteenth-century Umm Sultan Shaban Mosque. Cracks appeared at the base of its minaret following the 1992 earthquake. The AKTC has started a restoration and reconstruction programme of the mosque. Restoring the partially collapsed minaret and stabilising its roof will once again restore the historic skyline of Cairo.
Another restoration project involves a former school building. The Darb Shouglan school building is located along the historic wall of the old city; it offers an opportunity to introduce a community centre in an area that badly lacks public facilities. The large space offered by the former school building will be re-used to serve the community. It will act as a combined community and visitors centre. It will contain an orientation and exhibition space and a rooftop café with views of the city. Residents will also be able to make use of recreational as well as family, educational and community services in the building,
Public open spaces
Public open spaces are poorly maintained and deteriorating throughout Darb al-Almar. It is unclear what purpose they are to serve and who is to be responsible for maintaining them. The AKTC has carried out detailed surveys and discussed with residents ways in which these spaces can be maintained. A range of spaces will receive attention, with the help of local authourities and self help projects.
Commercial Streets:    Possible improvements include basic space p[lanning, upgrading of street pavements, public lighting and signs as well storefronts.
Important public squares:    These spaces will require careful attention and planning. Improvements in these highly visible public spaces will do much to enhance the image of the area and attract visitors.
Small neighbourhood squares. These ate found throughout the inner blocks of Darb al-Ahmar, often associated with tombs of saints and community mosques. These spaces will receive low-cost improvements to encourage informal contact and community life.
One of the improvement projects involves the Tablita Market linking the heart of the Fatimid City with the Azhar Park. Here an uncontrolled growth of street vendors and poor management of the area led to a situation where the market was under threat of being completely removed. This action would have been disastrous for the local community. The AKTC has prepared a new project to contain and reorganise the vendors within an enclosed new market hall.
Housing improvements
Detailed surveys of Darb al-Ahmar show the worsening conditions of the residential spaces. Residents do not have access to housing finance. Those forced to abandon their houses and shops cannot find affordable alternatives in the same area. If this condition continues, the area will further deteriorate. It will lose its valuable inhabitants needed to sustain the economic and social life in this historic area.
In 1998, AKTC carried out pilot study of 125 plots and buildings in Aslam neighbourhood of Darh al-Ahmar. The aim was to find out what kinds of improvements are needed and how best they can he carried out. The results of the study showed that the residents were willing to pay for essential improvement costs, without having to rely on government funds.
The study examined both traditional and modern architecture in the Aslam neighbourhood. It identified nine levels of improvements that could be undertaken. These improvements included pres historic sites and transforming individual buildings considered unsafe. The housing project would take into account the lifestyles of the residents, their income levels and supportive organisations needed to introduce the changes. Some of the activities of restoring a house are on the next page’.
Reflecting on the text
What are some ways in which the term ‘development’ has been understood?
What does ‘integrated development’ mean? How are different aspects of development linked to one another?
How is the principle of the balance between the spiritual and material Islam related to integrated development?
What key questions does Mawlana Hazir Imam raise in his speech regarding the future development of Muslim societies?
What principles does the Imam wish Muslims to consider as they achieve progress in the future?
What lessons can we draw from the Darl al-Ahmar case study about the relation between culture and development?
Why is the past as important a factor in development as the future?
Study other speeches of Mawlana Hazir Imam that refer to the subject of development. What principles does the Imam emphasise when refering to improving the quality of life of people?
Suppose the Darb al-Ahmar project had focused only on economic development at the expense of other aspects. Write an account of what would have resulted from this approach? Repeat the exercise by identifying what would have happened if the cultural aspect had received all the attention.
Study the description of Darb al-Ahmar project closely. How would you design the public open spaces so that they would retain their historic character as well as improving the surroundings for the residents?
Redraw the house shown in the diagram on page 167 after all the improvements have been carried out. What kinds of materials would be required to refurbish the house?
What is to be understood by the term ‘integrated development’?
    Cultural erosion
    Economic development
    Integrated development


Make a list of ten items which you feel express the cultural needs of a society. In what ways are these needs related to other spheres of development we have studied, such as health, education and shelter?
Study the activities that take place in your local community. How are social, cultural and economic activities linked to one another? What role does culture play in the life of the people?
If people have limited funds, they should give priority to only one aspect of development.’ To what extent do you agree or disagree with this claim. Give reasons for your view.
What is meant by the term development’? In what ways can a community’s culture be said to progress?
Integrated development is based on improving people’s quality of life by taking In to account both their material and non-material needs.
7.3     One world
A globalised world
The twenty-first century is an age of globalisation. Goods, ideas and people flow freely through the borders of countries. There is increasing interaction between people of different religions, cultures, and nationalities. We are one human community, living on one planet.
In the globalised age, all human beings are linked to one another. Therefore, the actions of people in one part of the world can have consequences for people in other parts. The global and the local are closely linked together as never before. What we do at the local level impacts on the global. Conversely, what happens globally impacts on our lives locally.
In the globalised age. there is an increasing need for human beings to work together. The global problems that affect all of us require close co-operation between societies and communities all around the world.
No community can now live in isolation. We are all tied together to one another, regardless of our economic status, race, religion, culture, age or gender.
Working towards a better future
The message of Islam teaches us that all human beings are part of one divine essence. It makes us aware that as human beings we have mutual responsibilities towards one another, especially towards those who are vulnerable.
Religious communities can play an important part in the development of humanity. They stand to make an important contribution materially, culturally, intellectually, ethically and spiritually.
Muslims are an important part of humanity. About one in every five or six people on the planet is a Muslim. Muslim societies face the same global challenges as communities of other traditions in different parts of thje world.
It is only through working closely with one another, and with our fellow human beings, that we will be able to address the issues of development that affect all human beings.
The search for a wholesome quality of life, where there is no poverty and hunger, and where we respect the earth that is our natural home, is something that Muslims as an ethical community can not ignore.

The spirit of creative encounter

One of the major factors responsible for globalisation has been communications revolution. In the following speech, Mawlana Hazir Imam draws attention to both the benefits and dangers that information technology brings with it. He calls for a creative encounter between people of different cultures and traditions as we enter the twenty first century.
Keynote Address at the Commonwealth Press Union Conference
His Highness the Aga Khan
October 17, 1996 Cape Town, South Africa
‘One of these questions looms particularly large as we approach a new century. It is a question which arises in every part of the world where people of diverse cultures are building new relationships. And the question is simply this: how can the rapid acceleration of contact among these cultures be turned into co-operation rather than conflict?..
The notion that our planet is shrinking is a commonplace one – but it has recently taken a radical new turn. It is no longer a simple matter of geography, with cultures bumping up against one another – and struggling over borders and territories. Thanks to new methods of communication, cultures now increasingly intermingle – mixing with growing familiarity.
Some say that the fall of communism has brought us to “The End of History”. But an even more profound development has been “The End of Geography”. The connection between community and geography has been broken. A single community can thrive across immense distances, while a tiny dot of land can be home to many communities.
Not only can we transport ourselves in a few hours to any spot on the planet, we can also transport our words and our values, our songs and our dreams, our newspapers and our films, our money and our credit, our books and even our libraries to any part of the world – in a fraction of a second. And we can do so at a rapidly shrinking cost – and a rapidly accelerating pace.
Some suggest that the developing world, and Africa in particular may be left behind by this revolution in communications technology – or worse still, be drowned by a burgeoning flood of information and influence. But I would argue that societies which have invested less in old technologies have the potential to leapfrog more quickly into new technologies. The telecommunications revolution – including the Internet and World Wide Web – is providing us with ever greater power at ever lower prices. And this fact could help enormously in redressing earlier imbalances in information flows.
Already we see hints of what new developments in tele-medicine or in tele-education can mean to rural communities – as they suddenly participate in advances which once were distant dreams. The “end of geography,” after all, can also mean the end of isolation – and the end of isolation can mean an end to ignorance and impoverishment.
But if new technology can break down walls which have isolated whole communities from progress and enlightenment, that same technology can also remove the barriers to less welcome change. The communications revolution is a two-edged sword, opening exciting doors to the future, yes, but also threatening venerable cultures and traditional values.
On every hand we can see the rise of the global economy – and with it the global career and multinational family life, international fads and intercontinental life styles. Some find this process exhilarating, but many others find it frightening. And some even fear that this new intermingling of cultures will someday lead to cultural homogenisation.
Yet even as the waves of globalisation unfurl so powerfully across our planet, so does a deep and vigorous counter-tide. In every corner of the world one can also sense these days a renewal of cultural particularism, a new emphasis on ethnic and religious and national identity. What some have called a “new tribalism” is shaping the world as profoundly on one level as the “new globalism” is shaping it on another.
Sometimes this new tribalism can be a liberating thrust, as was the case when national movements overthrew the communist empire. Sometimes it can express itself in terribly destructive ways, as in the former Yugoslavia, or in Rwanda or Burundi. …
From the most developed to the least developed countries, we also see a resurgence of protectionism, wariness about foreign immigration, a fascination with ancient languages, a rise in religious fundamentalism.
It is not surprising, of course, that the global and the tribal impulse should surge side by side. The desire to protect what is familiar intensifies in direct proportion to the challenge of what is different.
Wherever we look, we find people seeking refuge from the disorienting waves of change in the tranquil ponds of older and narrower loyalties, in the warmth of familiar memories, in the comfort of ancient rituals.
This recovery of cultural identity can be a nourishing and creative force, to be sure. But it can also mean a world where we define ourselves by what makes us different from others – and thus a world of chronic conflict.
Surely, one of the great questions of our time is whether we can learn to live creatively with both the global and the tribal impulse, embracing the adventure of a broader internationalism even as we drink more deeply from the wellsprings of a particular heritage.
The communications revolution means either a growing “homogenisation” that we know breeds its own hostile reactions or we can search for a better course. We can hope that the spirit of the 21st century will be a spirit of Creative Encounter.

Source: The Institute of Ismaili Studies website

Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
How is glohalisation affecting the the exchange of goods, skills and ideas between countries all over the world?
What kind of relationship is developing between the global and the local?
What implications does the close linkage between all human beings in a globalised age have for the twenty-first century?
What particular contributions can Muslims make in the new social order that is emerging? What is the communication revolution, and how is it changing the lives of people across the world?
What two forces does Mawlana Hazir Imam mention in his speeches that have emerged as a result of the new communications technology?
What kinds of opportunities and dangers do these forces pose for the new century?
What choices do societies face in interacting with one another in the globalised age?
Write an essay that compares the industrial revolution with the communications revolution. In what ways has each event changed the world? What are some major similarities and differences between the two events?
Do a case study which reveals the impact of information technology on traditional ways of life. Consider both the benefits and negative effects that the new technology has had for traditional communities.
Collect information on a recent conflict that reveals the new tribalism’ that has emerged in recent years. Find out what role religious, sectarian or ethnic differences have played in this conflict.
Identify modern novels that are based on the theme of rapid changes taking place in today’s world. What do you learn about the attitudes and responses of different groups to change from these novels?
What are some of the implications of a globalised world for the progress of human beings in the twenty-first century?
•    communications revolution
•    globalisation
Write a list of ten changes that have come about in recent years as a result of the development of the internet.
Based on your knowledge of geography, identify communities that are isolated from the rest of the world.. What factors lead to their isolation and what impact does it have on ther quality of life?
‘Information technology is creating greater inequalities between people of developed and developing nations. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view. Give reasons to support your argument.
What steps can Muslim countries and communities take to help reduce poverty, illiteracy and illness around the world?


The globalised age of the twenty first century holds both opportunities and risks for the progress of humanity. Muslims stand to make an important contribution in improving the quality of life of human beings in the new century.
Review of Unit 7:    Choices and possibilities
Review questions

7.1     Guardians or consumers?

  • What are some factors in the twenty-first century that are likely to affect the environment and the use of natural resources?
  • What are some of the global problems that have arisen as a result of rapid economic growth?
  • What debate has taken place in recent years on the dilemma between development and conservation? What is meant by sustainable development?
  • What does the ethics of Islam teach us about our relation to the created world?
  • How has the United Nations tried to promote the idea of sustainable development? What are some major objectives identified in Agenda-21?

7.2     The material and the spiritual

  • What are some ways in which the term ‘development’ has been understood?
  • What does ‘integrated development’ mean? How are different aspects of development linked to one another?
  • How is the principle of the balance between the spiritual and material in Islam related to integrated development?
  • What key questions does Mawlana Hazir Imam raise in his speech regarding the future development of ‘Muslim societies?
  • What principles does the Imam wish Muslims to consider as they achieve progress in the future?
  • What lessons can we draw from the Darb al-Ahmar case study about the relation between culture and development?

7.3     One world

  • What implications does the close linkage between all human beings in a globalised age have for the twenty-first century?
  • What is the communications revolution, and how is it changing the lives of people across the world?
  • What two forces does Mawlana Hazir Imam mention in his speech that have emerged as a result of the new communications technology? What kinds of opportunities and dangers do these forces pose for the new century?
  • What choices do societies face in interacting with one another in the globalised age?
  • What particular contributions can Muslims make in the new social order that is emerging?

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