Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East

By Bernard Lewis | Go to book overview

27
Islam and Development:
The Revaluation of Values

The term “developing countries” is at the present time applied, by polite convention, to a large group of countries in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, which differ very widely among themselves in culture, background, social and political structure, and degree of development, but have this in common—that they are classified as undeveloped or under-developed in relation to the societies of Europe and the lands of European settlement overseas. In addition, they have shared the traumatic experience of the impact, influence, and, sometimes, domination of the alien civilization of the West, which brought immense and irreversible changes on every level of social existence. Some of these changes were the work of Western rulers and administrators. Such foreigners, however, tended on the whole to be cautiously conservative in their policies; while they brought many great changes in practical and material things, their influence on institutions and ideas was far less radical than that of the native Westernizers. These were of many kinds—rulers who sought to acquire and master the Western apparatus of power; men of affairs, anxious to adopt Western methods and techniques for the creation or acquisition of wealth; men of letters and of action, fascinated by the potency and efficacy of Western knowledge and ideas.

The acceptance of modern civilization by a developing country may involve the installation of a modern-style political and administrative structure, the adoption of modern social and cultural patterns and institutions, the acquisition of modern economic and technical methods and skills. But in addition to these and other borrowings and as an essential concomitant to their successful assimilation, it must involve the

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