Development in Islam

Development is the need of all human beings. People of all religions and cultures today are concerned about development. Development in Islam means bringing balance and harmony, justice and peace, and beauty and prosperity. It is the development of the total human being: body, mind, and soul.
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states: Almighty Allah says: (Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from: join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want – We provide sustenance for you and for them – come not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice; no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear, whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus doth He command you, that ye may remember. Verily, this is My Way leading straight: follow it; follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) Path; thus doth He command you, that ye may be righteous.) (Al-An`am: 151-153) He also says: (By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it.) (Ash-Shams: 7-10)

Development is the need of all human beings. People of all religions and cultures today are concerned about development. Governments are spending millions on social and economic development. People talk about development strategies, development planning and so on. Muslims should also think seriously how to develop themselves and their societies and how to move from our present situation to a better one.
Development and growth are the basic aim and objective of Islam. Islam wants to achieve the growth of individuals and societies. Everyone should grow according to their potentials and inner capabilities. Development means growth of the individual and society at the higher levels. Allah has given human beings different potentials. Every person is responsible to grow according to his/her potential and become better.
Development in Islam means bringing balance and harmony, justice and peace, and beauty and prosperity. It is the development of the total human being: body, mind, and soul. It is not the growth of the body at the expense of the mind, or the growth of the mind at the expense of the soul. They are all needed and there should be balance and harmony between them. Development according to Islam should be wholesome. It should be material, cultural, and political, but it must be, at the same time, moral and spiritual. Individuals or nations that develop materially without paying attention to their spirituality and morality cannot sustain their growth for too long. Material or economic growth without proper moral and spiritual values becomes a problem, and causes stress and pain.
Following are the basic elements of balanced and sustained development according to Islam:
1. Tazkiyah: Spiritual development
2. Tarbiyah: Moral development
3. Tanmiyah: Economic and social development
4. Tatawwur: Educational and cultural development
5. Taqaddum: Civilizational development
Let us look at each one of these elements in some detail.
Tazkiyah: It is a very important part of development. Tazkiyah is purification which is a pre-requisite for effective growth. There cannot be healthy growth unless purification also takes place. It is like the farmer who cleanses the ground of weeds, puts fertilizer, then seeds and waters his farm regularly and keeps removing any unwanted grass and weeds. Only after doing so will he be ready to have a rich and wholesome harvest. Thus Islam wants all of us to remove our sins and bad habits, nourish ourselves with wudu’, Prayers, dhikr, fasting and charity. We must keep learning and increasing our knowledge and establishing good deeds in our family and society, then we will see that slowly and surely good, healthy, and wholesome development will come.
Tarbiyah: Literally it means raising and enabling something to grow. It is closely related to education. We often use the words Ta`lim and Tarbiyah together. Education is imparting information, knowledge and skills; but Tarbiyah is the development of the person with discipline and moral character. Knowledge itself does not save a person. It is the proper use of knowledge that is required. From a young age children should be raised on high moral values. At home parents should play their role as providing good examples. Parents should also be concerned about their children’s friends and associates and their Islamic education.
Tarbiyah is not only for children. Youth and adults also need continuous tarbiyah. This comes through special tarbiayah programs and activities. People need reminding (tadhkir) and they need guidance to follow the path of values and virtues.
Tanmiyah: This means a gradual approach in growth and development. The idea is that development will not come all of a sudden. It means careful tendering and nourishing as is done with a plant. Tanmiyah is often used to refer to economic and social development. Islamic development cannot ignore economic growth and social cohesion within the society. Economic tanmiyah is growth and development of economic resources, elimination of poverty, self- sufficiency, free enterprise, and opportunities for all members of the society. Social tanmiyah means development of harmonious families, caring neighbourhoods, and a tolerant civil society where people of diverse races, colors, and creeds live in peace and harmony. This also entails political tanmiyah which is the culmination of all development. It means development of a society of law and order, equality, consultation, and cooperation.
Tatawwur: It indicates moving from one stage to another. Allah says in the Qur’an that He created us in stages (Nuh: 1). Development also comes in stages. We must move from one level to a better one. The society under Islamic development should grow in its education and culture. The intellectual level must rise and people must explore Allah’s wonderful world of nature and science. Accordingly cultural patterns should change to reflect the moral and intellectual growth of the community. Tatawwur means that our today must be better than our yesterday, and our tomorrow must be better than our today. Our Akhirah (the Hereafter) should be better than this world. This should be the vision and mission of every Muslim in his/her personal life as well as in his/her work.
Taqaddum: It is civilizational growth and development. Like tatawwur, taqaddum also comes step by step, but it is the development of the whole society. Individual development or the development of the few or an elite, would not bring about the real taqaddum; it has to be the growth and development of the society in general. This should be the goal of all our efforts. Our homes and mosques, schools and universities, bazaars and factories, banks and investment companies, courts and parliaments, police and military forces, all of them must lead us to this comprehensive taqaddum. Parents at home, imams in the mosques, teachers at schools, business people in the market, workers in the factories, judges in the courts, policemen in the cities, and soldiers in armies, mayors, governors, heads of states, each and everyone is responsible for taqaddum. Unless all groups have this vision and mission full development cannot be achieved.
Development requires patience and struggle. The struggle should be against injustice, evil, and corruption. The struggle should also be positive in order to bring about the moral and material well- being of all people. This work of development is both individual and collective. It should be organized in order to become effective.