Drawing on long-term ethnographic research with Muslims in India, this article suggests that religion should not (only) be understood as a sub-category of development but as an integral part of the meta-ontology based on which one should engage with development initially. Value-driven development implies a normative view of society, and a ‘more human’ society is at the core of worthwhile development. For the research participants, their ontological conceptions (notions of what being human means) and the ethical autonomy to deliberate on a normative view of life and society are embedded in the Islamic dharma. To approach religion as only a sub-category in an otherwise secular development framework marginalises these, and probably many other, religious life experiences and ontological notions from the outset. Instead, secular and religious ontologies should be considered at par in an inclusive dialogue on worthwhile development.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Religion · Development ethics · Human development · Secularism · Islam · South Asia
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41287-019-00252-0, hdl.handle.net/1765/123096
Journal The European Journal of Development Research
Pool, F.W.W. (2019). Development within a religious ontology?. The European Journal of Development Research. doi:10.1057/s41287-019-00252-0