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Video: Better Aid and Development Discussions Through Islam Crash Course

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development.

An ongoing discussion over at the Uncultured Project has been the relationship between the lack of knowledge on what Islam is about and how aid and development organizations relate to the Muslim community. Shawn Ahmed shares a simple and short video explaining what Islam is in an attempt to pave the road to better understanding of a large group of people who could be aid recipients.

In Shawn Ahmed's 7 April, 2012, post Aid Work, Cynicism, and Islam he points out to yet another post from a Muslim on what Islam is about, and it excludes cynicism as well as respecting others.

I wish more aid workers (especially aid workers that serve in countries where there are a lot of Muslims) understood this and respected it. Because, especially in online conversations about aid and development, there seems to be a penchant towards cynicism.

In a November 2012 post, Islam and Online Aid and Development Discourse he reflects on how online aid discussions exclude minorities, even when those minorities are the target for those same aid initiatives being discussed. And he believes that one of the reasons for this  exclusion could be because of the tone of these aid conversations not reflecting cultural norms, and this could be impacting the bad image the aid industry is garnering, particularly in the case of a mostly Muslim nation like Bangladesh:

This exclusion can happen simply because of the snark, sarcasm, and personal attacks that are frequently thrown around in online aid conversations… Many Bangladeshis already tell me that the aid industry and INGOs don’t reflect them, their values, or their way of doing things. If this tone is condoned and applauded by those working to help the poor…. then they may be right.

In the Uncultured Project's latest post Islam:101 Ahmed proposes that a better understanding of the culture in the communities aid organizations are targeting, could provide a better environment for these same aid organizations, where instead of rejecting work with a certain group of people due to ignorance and discrimination, they could learn about the culture and work from this knowledge.

But what is Islam? Well, instead of citing a religious scholar, I think my friend John Green summarizes Islam pretty nicely in this video. If you have 13 minutes to spare, it’s a must watch:

The video is from an online series called Crash Course, which focuses on short, engaging videos on World History and Biology.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development.

  • ziaush shams

    This is a fabulous blog. Juliana, you deserve a lot of congrats for this. Green’s video could have been more illustrative though. I shall comment on the main theme later. Thank you.

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