Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Integrated Sustainable Development Programme

Islam provides a holistic understanding of human development… According to this understanding, human development is the process of maintaining human dignity to achieve well-being. 

Author: Atallah Fitzgibbon & Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano
Country: International 
Category: Human Development and Poverty, Faith Perspective

The introduction of Integrated Sustainable Development (ISD) programmes was a key component of the 2011–15 strategy for Islamic Relief. There was consensus from field staff and fundraisers that we needed to move away from the pressures of being donor and sector-led to having the means to tackle poverty through programmes which integrated various sectors within an overall opportunity-led analysis of what is really needed to lift communities out of poverty and suffering.

Islam provides a holistic understanding of human development anchored on the maqasid or agreed upon objectives of Shari’a. According to this understanding, human development is the process of maintaining human dignity to achieve well-being. It is comprehensive because it is multidimensional and covers all facets of life (material, non-material and spiritual) in a way that ensures the realisation of basic rights including basic needs. It is peoplecentred because it targets people as its means and end. It recognises the vertical connections of human beings with their creator and their horizontal connections with each other and with other creations.

The Islamic model presented here recognises poverty as deprivation in five closely related dimensions; faith (deen), life (nafs), intellect (‘aql), posterity (nasl) and wealth (maal). These dimensions are related to each other both as ends and means to achieving well-being. They are related at outcome level because each of them is a necessary part of human dignity and at the same time they are related as means because of the synergies between them. Each dimension contains a set of basic responsibilities and God-given rights that support and reinforce each other within and between dimensions. Tackling poverty will involve discharging the Islamic obligation of safeguarding these rights and achieving social justice.

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