The Ummah today: Characteristics of Less Economically Developed Countries: LEDCs (Ethics 2.2)

What is a Less Economically Developed Country? This is a country which is termed as poor and is in need of help from other countries such as the European countries. They used to be called “Third World Countries” but not nowadays. A wealthier country is called “A More Economically Developed Country, MEDC.” So these terms indicate how wealthy a country is.

If a country has industries (that manufacture goods), or has business skills that other countries need – and they trade (do business) with those countries – then they will have a stronger economy than if they did not produce goods to trade. That is common sense. If a country sells more than it buys the economy will be even stronger. If a country has valuable resources that the rest of the world needs (such as oil), then they can quickly develop their economy and provide a higher standard of living for their people.

LDCs

However, LEDCs are usually not able to produce enough goods to trade and many do not have valuable resources that other countries need. As a result, the people who live there are poor. So even if these countries have resources such as oil and minerals, they quite often do not have the machinery or qualified and skilled personnel to extract them. They may also lack pipelines or road and rail networks (infrastructure) to transport these resources to centres of population, where they can be used, or taken to ports for export overseas.

As a result the government may sell the rights to the resources to a MEDC (A More Economically Developed Country) that has machinery and personnel. These rights are sold for a lot less than the LEDC would earn if they themselves extracted and sold the natural resource.

LEDC: A country lacking sufficient economic development to lift people out of poverty.

MEDC: A country where economic development allows people to enjoy a comfortable standard of living.

LEDCs

This map shows that many LEDC countries lie between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn where resources are scarce. Some of this land, especially over large areas of Central Africa, is desert. So growing crops is difficult as is finding water to drink – as a result few people live there. Most of the population is crowded into cities which have sprung up in areas which are easier to develop. Muslims form the majority of the population in many African LEDCs, e.g. Somalia, Mauritania, Senegal and Niger. This provides a challenge to the Ummah, since there are many Muslims struggling to find food and water in these countries. Despite giving financial and practical support, the Muslim Ummah is often unable to cope with the scale of the problem. The Scholars of Sunnah mention that the Ummah has a duty to aid these suffering people with both supplication (du’ā), material wealth, professional assistance, medical care, education and so on – and, that these people themselves should turn to their Lord for help by worshipping Him alone, seeking His aid and following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him); in that way they receive the aid of God from above the Heavens, and the aid of His servants on earth. Allāh strikes an example in the life of the Prophet Nūh (peace be upon him):

“He said: “O my people! Verily, I am a plain warner to you. You should worship Allah alone, be dutiful to Him, and obey me. He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins and leave you for an appointed term. Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you but knew.

He said: “O my Lord! Verily, I have called my people night and day. But all my calling added nothing except to them fleeing from the truth. And verily! Every time I called unto them that You might forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, and persisted in their refusal, and magnified themselves in pride.

Then verily, I called to them openly (aloud). Then verily, I called to them in public, and I have appealed to them in private. I said to them: ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” What is the matter with you? That you fear not Allah and you hope not for reward!” (Nūh: 2-13)

This is a very powerful reminder as to where sustenance, wealth and safety comes from and how it is bestowed by God. The Quran makes a direct connection between the abundance of blessings and sustenance to the religious and moral conduct of people. The more righteous the people, the greater likelihood of good provision.

However, God may test some people by giving them plenty of wealth to see whether they will show gratitude to Him, worship Him and give in charity; and He may also test the righteous people with the affliction of poverty to see if they will remain pious and steadfast or give up hope. So life is filled with challenges and tests, and in the Hereafter is the recompense.

Remember Africa is not a country but a continent.

Questions:

  1. Explain carefully what an LEDC is. Using the map above and an atlas, name some examples.
  2. Why do you think the term “Third World” tends to be less used nowadays?
  3. What infrastructure do you think is needed to successfully extract oil and minerals? Why cannot LEDCs develop this infrastructure (what would they need)?
  4. Spend a few quiet minutes thinking about what life must be like in a desert region of Africa, being poor and feeling helpless and worrying about one’s family. When you have thought, jot down your ideas. How could you help?
  5. What do you think the rest of the world could do to help LEDCs?
  6. Go to Wikipedia.org and find out about Niger. Look at the introduction to Niger, then at geography, agriculture and foreign aid.

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school can also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books (especially AQA Religious Studies) and adapted them for my classes.

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