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Thread: Why do you think Islamic nations tend to be so poor?

  1. #1 Why do you think Islamic nations tend to be so poor? 
    Time Lord
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    This is a discussion I was having on a religion thread, and the suggestion was made that I post it here to see if what I was saying would fly in an actual economic debate.

    My perspective is that culture drives poverty at least as strongly as any other factor. Islamic nations tend to let religion pretty much dominate their culture, so, religion and culture tend to become pretty much the same thing. (Whereas in a christian nation they would be separate, because religion plays a much smaller part in the overall culture)

    I think the reason most, if not all, Islamic nations are under-developed is because the culture created by Islam is one that suppresses new ideas and focuses way too much on reverence for the old ways. The people can't organize into social structures that would enable them to build any real infrastructure for themselves, because they'd inevitably deviate from or be seen as criticising some part of the traditional ideologies and offend the religious elite.


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  3. #2  
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    you basically answered your own question. the Islamic people over history have been the worlds economic leaders in some periods. this when all peoples practiced many of the same policies which they still do.

    IMO; the US, by outlawing slavery, womans suffrage and the more current equal rights programs, brought millions into the economic system which has given us an edge, certainly from about 1940.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackson33
    IMO; the US, by outlawing slavery, womans suffrage and the more current equal rights programs, brought millions into the economic system which has given us an edge, certainly from about 1940.
    You will have to go back a lot further than 1940. There was an Islamic golden age about the time Europe was in the Dark Ages, but after the Renaissance there hasn't been much happening in the Muslim world as far as arts and science is concerned.

    I don't think you will find it as simple as Religion A = good science/technology, Religion B = Bad or vice versa.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age
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  5. #4  
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    Well, yeah. Christianity's real contribution to western advancement has just been to get out of the way. (And only even did that after some struggle).

    Maybe it's getting to be time for Islam to start figuring out a way to get out of the way.
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  6. #5  
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    I think we have to separate two things: Islam, and conservative cultures of several individual countries and regions.

    Malaysia is an Islamic country, but they're doing fine economically. Indonesia is steadily progressing as well, while it's the biggest Islamic country in the world. Both of them have some oil, but they don't depend on it and have developped a quite sustainable economy.

    In much of the Arab world economic progress is being hampered by inequality (palaces for the oil rich, unemployment for a third of the people), lack of access to the labour market for women (much of the recent - last decennia - economic progress in the West comes from the increasing number of working women) and perhaps a lack of interest in science and technology. But it's hard to say that Islam is to blame, because in many Islamic countries such problems don't exist.
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    you might add *Dubai* to your Islamic growing economies.

    Harold, the effects of what i mentioned took hold during WWII. benefits prior to this were minimal and maximized effects were in the 80's-90's.

    agree, that religion is by no means an indicator of economic potential. however government is the prime factor, which Islam is not conducive to economic activity....
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  8. #7  
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    Yeah. That's the problem. Islam doesn't leave government, or even general culture, or really much of anything alone. At least not in the middle east version of it.

    I'm curious how similar dubai, malaysia, and indonesia's versions of Islam are to the version practiced in the middle east. It could be that, when properly practiced or interpreted, it's as sensible a religion as any of the others.
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    ironically Dubai is run by a ruling Family, much as Saudi Arabia. Dubai however has allowed foreign investment in that nation, feeling their oil supply will run out. there is an intended and stated goal to embrace capitalism.

    this idea is not new in the Islamic world. Iraq and Iran, had both gone this route in the past, but reverted back to some degree. in Iran its been a total reversal. in Iraq it became a dictatorship. the problems come from the theological beliefs of the clergy. their voices are heard in periods of hard times, which all nations suffer, with the political leaders then becoming less viable.
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    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Any country that is heavily influenced by religion is going to suffer (economically) sooner or later. I wouldn't blame it on islam though, i think geography plays a much bigger role.
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  11. #10  
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    It's true that Islam seems to take the strongest root in lands nobody would want to live in. As for religion always being bad if taken too far, I agree there too, but Islam seems to be the only religion that still expects to be taken that far.

    Christianity and Judaism no longer preach that their clerics should run the whole country. They're both willling to leave that part to some kind of secular authority instead.
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    Agreed.
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    So. Frankly, I don`t think that islamic countries are tend to be poor.
    We don`t know so many things about them... Maybe the richest man
    in the world is a prince of islamic country. He just don`t want to show his
    big capital to the world...But just emagine how many money he has if
    he has oil, his own country and, he can sell drugs, armour, averything.
    And what about Turkey? They are not poor.
    Islamic countries have oil, so they can change the rules of wold game, wich named politics
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    Have you been to 'Christian' Latin America recently? Dozens of predominantly 'Christian' African nations? Haiti? Islam has no monopoly on poverty.

    The issue is more one of a tie to a religious culture (choose one) that stifles modernity. This can be Hinduism in the case of a billion Indians, Confusionism and Budhism for pre-Mao China, Catholisism in Latin America. 'Most' of the stifled people of the world were not Muslim and still aren't. The bulk of the world's Muslims live in indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia and India....'Arabs' are a distant minority of Muslims.

    I agree that Islam, like all religions when used as a political ideology, is a hindrance...this is also why some Catholic Mediterranean states laged behind western Europe. It's why China was feudalistic unti this century and India, in some ways, is still a basket case (but improving dramatically).

    Islam is a tool just as the Right wing fundamentalists in the USA try and use Christianity as a tool. It's also why the separation of church and state is more productive in allowing individual and alternate expression and thus eventual ingenuity and technical advancement. Attitudes of the fundies on an issue like 'stem cell research' are fine but when mixed with politics is a smothering impact on medical progress.
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  15. #14  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    according to this article The bottom billion bite back 70% of the bottom billion live in Africa
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  16. #15  
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    I think I agree with Jelly. The real question is whether you have a separation of church and state. Most muslim countries are absolutely, perfectly, devoid of any such separation.

    The two are as intertwined as ever I could imagine them being. You can be prosecuted under the law in many muslim countries for teaching another religion other than islam.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think I agree with Jelly. The real question is whether you have a separation of church and state. Most muslim countries are absolutely, perfectly, devoid of any such separation.
    I think the word I was looking for was nonsense.

    Pakistan Total separation 164 million
    Bangladesh Total separation 150 million
    Libya Total separation 6 million
    Syria Total separation 20 million
    Iraq Total separation 27 million
    Lebanon Total separation 2.6 million
    Tunisia Total separation 9 million
    Egypt Total separation 80 million
    Algeria Total separation 34 million
    Morocco Total Separation 29 million
    Jordan Total Separation 5 million
    Indonesia Separation 195 million
    Malaysia Separation 27 million
    Qatar Large Integration < 1million
    UAE Large Integration 3 million
    Oman Large Integration 2.5 million
    Iran Total Integration 69 million
    Saudi Total Integration 25 million

    It is not true of countries. It is dramatically not true of citizen numbers.
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  18. #17  
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    Is it legal for most christian missionaries to go around proselyting in these countries? I know it isn't legal for Mormon missionaries in several muslim countries.
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  19. #18  
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    The way that assumption, stereotypes, half-truths and generalizations are thrown around in this thread (and considering the original question itself) can only mean you don't know much about so-called Islamic countries and their economies. Some people who talk much and know nothing are not even aware of the simplest concepts. For example, the conflicts between the religion of Islam on the one hand, and tribal customs on the other hand in countries like Afghanistan or Iraq, is largely unappreciated by outsiders who think that all they need to know to explain a country's situation is that it's Islamic (probably not even knowing much about Islam, either).

    To put two cultures and economies as different as those of Iran and Indonesia into the same pot, just because they share a religion (or is it because they start with the letter "I"?), is nonsense, don't you see that? Do you also think most people in Africa and South America are so poor because they are Christians? The status quo of humanity is a result of history, and history cannot be reduced to an ignorant bean count, concentrating on just one aspect of it, completely taken out of any context.

    This question makes a little more sense: Why do the (English) names of many poor countries contain the letter "A" ?
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Is it legal for most christian missionaries to go around proselyting in these countries? I know it isn't legal for Mormon missionaries in several muslim countries.
    Most of the Islamic countries have active Christian minorities who are free to worship. I am not sure to what extent they are free to conduct missionary work in each country. You might wish to note that it is forbidden within China, which is not exactly a muslim country.
    I think you are trying to draw conclusions on the basis of prejudice and hearsay. Not very satisfactory?
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  21. #20  
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    Have you been to 'Christian' Latin America recently? Dozens of predominantly 'Christian' African nations? Haiti? Islam has no monopoly on poverty.

    The issue is more one of a tie to a religious culture (choose one) that stifles modernity. This can be Hinduism in the case of a billion Indians, Confusionism and Budhism for pre-Mao China, Catholisism in Latin America. 'Most' of the stifled people of the world were not Muslim and still aren't. The bulk of the world's Muslims live in indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia and India....'Arabs' are a distant minority of Muslims.

    I agree that Islam, like all religions when used as a political ideology, is a hindrance...this is also why some Catholic Mediterranean states laged behind western Europe. It's why China was feudalistic unti this century and India, in some ways, is still a basket case (but improving dramatically).

    Islam is a tool just as the Right wing fundamentalists in the USA try and use Christianity as a tool. It's also why the separation of church and state is more productive in allowing individual and alternate expression and thus eventual ingenuity and technical advancement. Attitudes of the fundies on an issue like 'stem cell research' are fine but when mixed with politics is a smothering impact on medical progress.
    I completely agree with Jellyologist
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  22. #21  
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    Ophi; I would suggest you Wikipedia *Myth of Islamic Tolerance*. If not convinced Google *Woman under Islamic Law or Government*. If still not convinced of intolerance, check out the statements made by OBL, the OBL types and the Cleric of their movement. Their is no indication of tolerance toward any religion or women under their rule or for the Nations they hope to control.

    I do agree, the Islamic Moderates or so called, are getting a bad rap for the actions of a few, but until I see some major out cry from this element, I will continue to question this number, suggested moderate...
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackson33
    I do agree, the Islamic Moderates or so called, are getting a bad rap for the actions of a few, but until I see some major out cry from this element, I will continue to question this number, suggested moderate...
    Well my wife seems pretty contemptuous of the motives of the recent bombers in the UK. The last time I checked she was still muslim. If not I'd really like to know where she's heading off to on Friday night in her hijab.
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    Ophi; I have no desire to take this issue to a personal level. However I would suggest 95% of Muslim Women, oppose what OBL and the movement are attempting. Unfortunately, in that world Women have little say-so, in what happens. Nearly all the advocates, I see, opposed to Radical Muslim are in fact women.
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  25. #24  
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    The last time I checked she was still muslim. If not I'd really like to know where she's heading off to on Friday night in her hijab.
    LOL
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  26. #25  
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    This whole debate seems to have become rather messy. If the original question was Why do you think English speaking nations tend to be so well off? would anybody have any problems ? No, we could quite happily talk about the history, the country's geography and the luck without getting personal. Referring to islamic nations is no different then talking in general terms about communist nations, black nations or south american nations.
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  27. #26  
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    I think we've got some "chicken, egg" debates going here.

    Is it that primative places like Afghanistan simply find Islam more appealing than a modernized place like Germany would find it?

    Or did Islam cause a place like Afghanistan to stagnate and never move toward modernization?
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    Afghanistan is a sh*t hole for 3 reasons.
    1. The soviets invaded the place in the 80s
    2. About a third of their economy is mixed up with the production of illegal drugs.
    3. It is currently experience regime change



    Islam doesn't feature any where in the answer except to say that Afghanistan is Muslim because historically Afghanistan has always (well for a few hundred years at least) been Muslim.




    Does Eastern Europe tend to be poor because they're all Christian?
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  29. #28 Re: Why do you think Islamic nations tend to be so poor? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    ...I think the reason most, if not all, Islamic nations are under-developed is because the culture created by Islam is one that suppresses new ideas and focuses way too much on reverence for the old ways. The people can't organize into social structures that would enable them to build any real infrastructure for themselves, because they'd inevitably deviate from or be seen as criticising some part of the traditional ideologies and offend the religious elite.
    If you look at history, you'll see that was not always the case. In the Middle Ages, when Western Europe was in poverty, the Islamic world was at a much higher level of well-being and development.

    I think the key thing is not which religion leads to poverty, but how it's practiced. If people believe that everything is the will of God -- like medieval Christians did -- and that the goal of life is simply to follow God's teachings (as opposed to bettering yourself and society) than you're more likely to end up with a society that suppresses new ideas. Which is not really a problem if the population is stable, but results in an increasing drop in well-being as the population increases. (At least until there's a war, epidemic or famine.)
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    This whole debate seems to have become rather messy. If the original question was Why do you think English speaking nations tend to be so well off? would anybody have any problems ? No, we could quite happily talk about the history, the country's geography and the luck without getting personal. Referring to islamic nations is no different then talking in general terms about communist nations, black nations or south american nations.
    I think we'd still find that English culture has certain inherent traits that would make us well off whatever our luck had been. Maybe we're lucky that we came up with certain cultural improvements before most of the rest of the world had them.

    I think part of the issue with Islam and poverty is being clear that it is not so much the institution or religion itself as a particular brand of it which is extremely common and seems to leave poverty and suffering in its wake. (There's no way we could go off the pure form of the religion because no religion exists anywhere on Earth in pure form)

    In practice, most muslims seem to live in the middle east, for example. Certainly not all. The brand of islam practiced there isn't necessarily representative of everything the Koran is capable of creating, but it is the most common result known to occur in that area.

    I see the doctrine that there would never be another prophet after Mohammud as representative of a lot of Islam's problems. They don't seem to believe that any important new ideas were ever going to come along after Mohamud was gone. So, maybe they started out the most advanced people on Earth, but then stopped letting new ideas in.
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think we'd still find that English culture has certain inherent traits that would make us well off whatever our luck had been. Maybe we're lucky that we came up with certain cultural improvements before most of the rest of the world had them.
    There are various theories.... There's a book called Guns, Germs, and Steel, which relates the advantage of Western Europe to those properties.

    But, fo course, the dominance of Western Europe is relatively recent. If we were living in, say, 1400 AD, we might be asking why the Islamic countries are so dominant and the feudalistic Western European countries so backwards and impoverished.

    Actually, I'm curious about the belief that the Islamic countries are poor.... I know that before Iraq invaded Kuwait, Kuwait had the highest standard of living in the world. Iraq was also doing pretty well before the US sent it back to the Stone Age. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are doing well.... Maybe the misconception comes about because the Muslims we see on TV are often refugees who have lost nearly everything they had....


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    ...
    I see the doctrine that there would never be another prophet after Mohammud as representative of a lot of Islam's problems. They don't seem to believe that any important new ideas were ever going to come along after Mohamud was gone. So, maybe they started out the most advanced people on Earth, but then stopped letting new ideas in.
    Aren't all religions like that? Christianity doesn't allow for new prophets.... IMO, religion by its nature is opposed to new ideas. (I.e., the holy book, whatever it is, is viewed as having all the answers.) So the more religious that people are, the less interested they would be in "progress".
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  32. #31  
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    Well, Christian tradition holds that the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ were the last prophets, effectively. However, the Bible makes no claim of any such sort. If you go off the Bible, then the only reason we don't have any new prophets since the 12 apostles is just pure happenstance.

    This is why I think Islam flourished in the middle ages: They decided to stop looking for newer or better ideas/technologies than the ones available, and just focused on perfecting their use of the ones in existence.
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