Report of the Symposium on Global Development and Faith-Inspired Organizations in the Muslim World

December 17, 2007

This report was published after a 2007 symposium in Doha hosted by the Berkley Center and the Center for International and Regional Studies of the School of Foreign Service in Qatar on the role of faith-based organizations in global development in the Muslim World. The meeting brought together a combination of practitioners and leading academics to review major issues facing the Muslim world. Major issues of focus at the Doha meeting included building better knowledge of institutional arrangements and trends in Muslim majority developing countries; exploring relationships among public, private, and religiously inspired actors; financing issues, including the post-9/11 landscape; and approaches to leading issues such as children, education, health, and gender. The review focused on how emerging institutions in the Muslim world, especially those with explicit faith links, are approaching issues of social and economic development.
Questions about terms and categories dominated the first segment of the December 17 discussions. The discussion was set against the backdrop of substantial contemporary tensions that surround operations of many charitable and development organizations working in the Muslim world. These tensions and the roles of the various organizations matter deeply because the challenges of social and economic development and the humanitarian demands of Muslim communities are so great-far greater than is generally appreciated. The work of organizations that in diverse ways are inspired by or organized with ties to Islam is vast, important, diverse, and dynamic. However, poor appreciation of the scope and character of this work accentuates problems that are often political in nature, at a local and geopolitical level. Concerns about the sensitivity of many issues that touch on the Islamic faith also colored the discussion. Better knowledge and honest and creative dialogue about the underlying issues have particular importance. The consensus was that pressing issues are rarely about "what is or is not faith-based," or the "faith" character of an organization. Rather, the more significant and practical question is what the organization sets out to do and how it accomplishes its mission. In looking at organizations, it is important first to study their level of civic and social engagement; their faith inspiration and ties, especially for religious faith, should be a secondary consideration. Results and performance need to be the prime criteria for judgments by all of us.

Table of Contents
Introductory comments: Framing the Discussion: Tensions, Language, and what we mean by "Faith"
Part A: Discussing the Issues
I. Challenges of "Interreligious Understanding"
II. Avoiding "Western" Bias
III. Challenges of Gender in Development
IV. Politics around Development Work
V. Engaging the Next Generation
VI. Democracy and Civil Society in the Muslim World
VII. Justice in Islam
VIII. Challenges of Surveillance and Suspicion
IX. Justice on the Ground: Development Approaches in the Muslim World
X. Building Education in the Muslim World
XI. Confronting HIV/AIDS in the Muslim World
XII. Humanitarian and Religious Approaches to Development
Part B: Biographical Notes on Participants

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