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Magnitude of Poverty in the Muslim World

The picture portrayed by the statistics of international organisations about poverty and human development places the Muslim world amongst the most backward nations. All reports and studies agree that poverty is dominating in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. If we take the member countries in the Organisation of Islamic Conference [52 countries] as representing the Muslim world, we find that 25 of them are placed amongst the 56 most poverty-stricken countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The following charter shows the position of the member countries of OIC in the ladder of human development which comprises: life expectancy, adult literacy rate, child education, and per capita income.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX FOR THE MUSLIM WORLD (1992)


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Country

HDI

Ranking in

the World

Life

Expectancy

Adult

Literacy

Mean

Years of

Schooling

Average

Per Capita

Income ($)

Economic Growth 1980-91

Population

(m)

1

Brunei

44

74.0

86.0

5.0

14,000

-

0.28

2

Kuwait

51

74.6

73.9

5.5

13,126

-

1.4

3

Qatar

56

69.6

79.0

5.8

16,750

-6.6

0.51

4

Malaysia

57

70.4

80.0

5.6

2,790

5.6

18.6

5

Bahrain

58

71.0

79.0

4.3

7,130

0.1

0.53

6

Kazakhstan

61

69.0

97.0

5.0

1,680

1.2

17.0

7

UAE

62

70.8

65.0

5.6

22,020

-1.8

1.7

8

Saudi Arabia

67

68.7

64.1

3.9

7,510

0.4

16.8

9

Turkey

68

66.7

81.9

3.6

1,980

5.4

58.5

10

Azerbaijan

71

71.0

96.3

5.0

740

1.5

7.4

11

Syria

73

66.4

66.6

4.2

1,160

1.4

13.0

12

Albania

76

73.0

85.0

6.2

930

-

3.4

13

Libya

79

62.4

66.5

3.5

5,420

-

4.9

14

Turkmenistan

80

66.0

97.7

5.0

1,230

2.5

3.9

15

Tunisia

81

67.1

68.1

2.1

1,720

3.5

8.4

16

Kyrgyzstan

82

68.0

97.0

5.0

820

1.9

4.5

17

Iran

86

66.6

56.0

3.9

2,200

2.5

59.6

18

Uzbekistan

91

69.0

97.2

5.0

850

2.6

21.5

19

Oman

92

69.1

35.0

0.9

6,480

9.3

1.6

20

Tajikistan

97

70.0

96.7

5.0

490

0.6

5.6

21

Jordan

98

67.3

82.1

5.0

1,120

0.6

3.9

22

Iraq

100

65.7

62.5

5.0

3,558

-

19.2

23

Lebanon

103

68.1

81.3

4.4

1,234

-

3.8

24

Indonesia

105

62.0

84.4

4.1

670

5.8

184.3

25

Algeria

109

65.6

60.6

2.8

1,840

-

26.3

26

Egypt

110

60.9

50.0

3.0

640

4.5

54.7

 

27

Morocco

111

62.5

52.5

3.0

1,030

4.3

26.2

28

Gabon

114

52.9

62.5

2.6

4,450

-0.9

1.2

29

Maldives

118

62.6

92.0

4.5

500

10.2

0.23

30

Cameroon

124

55.3

56.5

1.6

820

2.1

12.2

33

Pakistan

132

58.3

36.4

1.9

420

6.5

119.3

32

Nigeria

139

51.9

52.0

1.2

320

1.4

101.9

33

Comoros

141

55.4

55,0

1.0

510

2.6

0,51

34

Yemen

142

51.9

41.1

0.9

520

-

13.0

35

Senegal

145

48.7

40.0

0.9

780

2.9

7.8

36

Bangladesh

146

52.2

36.6

2.0

220

4.2

114.4

37

Sudan

151

51.2

28.2

0.8

480

0.3

26.5

38

Uganda

154

42.6

50.5

1.1

170

5.9

17.5

39

Benin

156

46.1

25.0

0.7

410

2.1

5.0

40

Mauritania

158

47.4

35.0

0,4

530

0.6

2.1

41

Mozambique

159

46.5

23.5

1.6

60

-1.1

 

42

Djibouti

163

48.3

19.0

0.4

620

-

0.55

43

Guinea-Bissau

164

42.9

39.0

0.4

220

3.3

1.0

44

Somalia

165

46.6

27.0

0.3

120

-

8.3

45

Gambia

166

44.4

30.0

0.6

370

3.2

1.0

46

Mali

167

45.4

35.9

0.4

310

2.5

9.0

47

Chad

168

46.9

32.5

0.3

220

6.3

6.0

48

Niger

169

45.9

31.2

0.2

280

-0.9

8.2

49

Sierra Leone

170

42.4

23.7

0.9

160

1.1

4.4

50

Afghanistan

171

42.9

31.6

0.9

-

-

21.5

51

Burkina Faso

172

47.9

,19.9

0.2

300

4.0

9.5

52

Guinea

173

43.9

26.9

0.9

510

-

6.1

*    Statistics of HOI taken from Human Development Report. 1994, UNDP; size of population and per capita income taken from World Development Report, 1994. Average per capita income of Qatar, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen is for 1991 for Somalia 1990, for Libya and Sudan 1988, Lebanon 1987, Iraq 1989, Albania 1986.

**   Rest of information from Europa Publications, The Middle East and North Africa, 1994.

*** Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan attend QIC as observers. Palestine and Zanzibar are members but no information is available.

The above table shows the abundance of poverty and deprivation in the Muslim world. From the first 50 countries that top human development in the world, there is only one Muslim country, Brunei, which is the least populated in the Muslim world. And amongst the 50 countries which bottom the list in human development there are 23 Muslim countries, 11 of them are the least developed in the whole world. Although its data was incomplete for several Muslim countries, the Human Development Report (1994) estimated that there were 285 million persons living in absolute poverty in the countries of OIC, which amounts to 26 percent of the population. Because the data was not complete for al! countries the real picture would be even worse. Therefore, the poverty situation in the Muslim world, especially in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, would continue to be bleak for many years to come. So, what is the remedy Islam offers to the problem of poverty? And what role the institution of zakah may play to alleviate this problem?

 

Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.