Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment

Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment

Islamic Thought and Sources

Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment
A Global and Historical Comparison

Author(s): Ahmet T. Kuru

Reviewed by: Asif Mohiuddin, Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, India



Home to vast oil reserves, the Arab world is associated with immense wealth concentrations. The region encompasses widely divergent economic structures and development trajectories, ranging from Gulf States, with highest levels of GDP in the world, to economically weaker nations like Yemen, where poverty levels are comparable to those of some North African countries. Although the region in not the poorest in the world, nor does it have the lowest levels of human development, the countries in the region have acquired a reputation as economic laggards. It is widely argued that the region has failed to develop a robust manufacturing sector, while human development lags vis-à-vis regional levels of wealth, and that the densely populated countries have not achieved sufficient growth to address socio-economic issues. The countries in the region are characterised by authoritarian rule, crony capitalism and extensive government ownership. The widespread underdevelopment and abundance of authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world has led some observers to conclude that the situation is actually related to Islam or Islamic law with a narrow perspective. This was the opinion of some modernists, who have been trying to explain the nexus between Islam and underdevelopment in the region and how underdevelopment led to the strengthening of the West in the last two to three centuries. In contrast, some scholars have blamed Western colonisation of Muslim countries and the ongoing phase of neo-colonisation that they believe is the main reason behind Muslim societies’ contemporary problems. Criticising both

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