The Influence of Islam on the Socioeconomic and Political Development of Muslim Nations: A Case Study of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

Publication Year



Islam, Pakistan, religion, politics, society, economics


Islamic Studies | Political Science | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Looking at the world today, Muslim nations comprise a large portion of the underdeveloped and developing world. Glances of these states reveal weak economies, human rights abuses, and oppressive political regimes. These parallels beseech the question as to whether Islam has played a role in the lack of economic, social, and political development of these states. These observations would give the impression that Islam does act as an obstacle to the development of Muslim nations, and many scholars, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, advocated this position. However, this study argues that after a careful examination of the religion, it is clear that Islam is not an impediment tot he socioeconomic and political development of Islamic states. Instead what has hindered the development of Islamic countries is the distortion and manipulation of Islam by elites in their quest for power. Their ability to suppress public discourse has severely weakened the ability to reinterpret Islamic law and has stifled the innovative ideas needed for development.

This thesis will primarily focus on how Islam has been used in the country of Pakistan, historically and in more contemporary times, to analyze if Islam has hampered the social, economic, and political development of this state. The Pakistani case illustrates how political and religious leaders have distorted Islam to preserve their power within society by suppressing public discourse through intimidation. This has resulted in numerous economic, social and political problems within the state. Therefore, the theories supporting the notion that Islam is a hindrance to development hold untrue for Pakistan. Further support for this argument can be found in the case of Saudi Arabia, where political and religious elites in conjunction with outside political influences have worked together in perpetuating a distorted version of Islam to maintain their power and interests. The case study of Turkey illustrates how Islam is compatible with democracy. However, it continues to reflect a severe problem within the educational system of Islamic nations, which has contributed to the ossification of thought and tradition within the region, contrary to fundamental Islamic principles.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Religious Studies

Department 2 Awarding Honors Status

Political Science

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