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No. 006/2008

Religion and Development: Are they Complementary?

Habibullah Khan & Omar K. M. R. Bashar

October 2008
U21Global Working Paper Series, No. 006/2008 Page 1

Religion and Development: Are they Complementary?
Habibullah Khan, U21Global, Singapore 1 Omar K. M. R. Bashar, Swinburne University of Technology Lilydale, Australia 2

ABSTRACT Given that religion drives people’s behavior and actions in a more productive direction, it is not possible to separate religion from development. After a meticulous review of theory and empirical literature, the paper concludes that the relationship between religion and development is likely to be complementary as long as religious beliefs and practices promote ‘moderation’ rather than ‘extremes’. A peaceful co-existence of various religious groups (or sects) within a country and nations with multiple religious affiliations within the global community at large remains the essential prerequisite for growth and prosperity in today’s highly interconnected world, argued in the paper. Keywords: Religion, Islam, growth, development

1. Introduction Religion is a system of social coherence commonly understood as a group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen or imaginary being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought.3 It is widely believed that religion played an important role in the process of economic development in the very early years of world history. Adam Smith (1776) while explaining the role of established clergies in his ‘An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ wrote that one of religion’s most important contributions to the economic development process was its value as a moral enforcement mechanism. He argued that, in societies where there was a...

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