Why Religion is out of Development Agenda?

The world has changed after the 9/11 and war on terror has shaken the whole population especially the Muslim countries. The recent emergence of Global Jehadis as “Daesh or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) changed the traditional warfare and financial mechanism of terrorist groups. This war between fundamentalists Muslims and Moderate world not only lost millions of innocent lives but also damage the world economy. In relation to Pakistan’ the developing economy paid cost of war against terrorism, which escalated up to $90 billion to $100 billion, as well as it is confronting at both internal and external fronts.[1]The whole Muslims in the world especially living the USA confronted multifaceted problems. Why this happen is a contested issues which is beyond our focus but the world has realized the significance of Religion as a driver for change and paradigm shift in contemporary world. The religious institutions such as Madaris, Mosque and Ulama (Religious Leaders) are linked closely and are complimentary to each other. They are important stakeholders of the civil society in Pakistan. Their numerical strength, potential to influence the general public, acceptability among the communities, and proximity of contact with the people at the grass roots level, and various religious services provide their institutions a monopoly over the interpretation of Islamic teachings. The enormous resources available to them (according to Agha Khan University local communities in Pakistan contribute Rs. 70 billion in Philanthropy a big portion of which goes to the religious institutions)  make  them very fit as a means to support the process of social transformation in the country.  However, no organized, continuous and consistent effort has ever been made to bring them into the mainstream of development and to tap their potential for developmental activities in the country. The non-participation of these NSP/A (Non-state Providers or Actors) religious institutions into the developmental efforts in not only in Pakistan but in west especially USA is a key issue that has far reaching effects on the society. Hardly an organized effort has been made in the past to take the religious institutions into self-reliance, sensitize them on issues related to social development, utilize their strengths for positive communication at the grass roots, and motivate them to play an effective role in the overall developmental process of the country. Much has been written on role of religion as peace and conflict management but least focused on capacity development of religious leaders and strengthening these institutions for development. As a development practitioner for last eight years in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Korea, I have came with conclusion that present socio-cultural and environmental challenges can be address while making inclusive participation of everyone particularly Religious Leaders. The aim of my research is to critically analyze the role of Muslims institutions, how to enable inclusive participation and giving a model for institutional development and financial monitoring and evaluation.

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[1] Economic Survey of Pakistan. 2012-13: Islamabad

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