We need not dwell too long on the narrowness of the capitalist concept of development as much has been written on the subject. It was conceived in terms of higher production to the neglect of distribution. One must ask whose development was being talked about. Was it the development of man or that of matter? How can the development of human society be conceived of in terms of additions to wealth only, irrespective of whether these are available to the bulk of its members or not. A rising GNP and increasing poverty, both in absolute and relative terms, can well, and indeed do, go together.
It is not only distributive justice that the capitalist concept of development ignores. It also ignores the ecological and social costs of development such as pollution, depletion of non-renewable resources, and stresses and strains on the individual and the family. It fails to take into consideration man's relationship with nature and the quality of his cultural life. The narrow concept of development held sway for more than a century and it is only now that some economists are seriously attending to the other inalienable dimensions of development. The reason for this failure lies in individualism which formed the basis of economic thinking. A comprehensive concept of development requires a broader frame of reference including all members of society, future generations, other living creatures and the non-economic interests of mankind. It is only such a broad concept that can suit Islamic economics.
If we must question such concepts as capital and development, what about money, income, employment, banking, insurance and a host of other concepts which are closely linked to the concepts exposed above and are the products of the same materialistic individualistic approach? The need for a critical review of all these concepts is established and this task must have priority with Islamic economists.
Source: Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi, Economics An Islamic Approach. Republished with permission.
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