Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism by Timur Kuran

By Timur Kuran

The doctrine of "Islamic economics" entered debates over the social function of Islam within the mid-twentieth century. due to the fact then it has pursued the aim of restructuring economies in keeping with perceived Islamic teachings. past its so much seen sensible achievement--the institution of Islamic banks intended to prevent interest--it has promoted Islamic norms of financial habit and based redistribution structures modeled after early Islamic economic practices.

In this daring and well timed critique, Timur Kuran argues that the doctrine of Islamic economics is simplistic, incoherent, and mostly beside the point to offer monetary demanding situations. gazing that few Muslims take it heavily, he additionally unearths that its sensible purposes have had no discernible results on potency, development, or poverty relief. Why, then, has Islamic economics loved any attraction in any respect? Kuran's resolution is that the true objective of Islamic economics has no longer been financial development yet cultivation of a different Islamic id to withstand cultural globalization.

The Islamic subeconomies that experience sprung up around the Islamic global are typically seen as manifestations of Islamic economics. in truth, Kuran demonstrates, they emerged to fulfill the commercial aspirations of socially marginalized teams. The Islamic businesses that shape those subeconomies offer development possibilities to the deprived. by way of bettering interpersonal belief, in addition they facilitate intragroup transactions.

These findings elevate the query of no matter if there exist hyperlinks among Islam and fiscal functionality. Exploring those hyperlinks when it comes to the long-unsettled query of why the Islamic international turned underdeveloped, Kuran identifies a number of pertinent social mechanisms, a few important to financial improvement, others damaging.

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The proceeds of zakat are earmarked mostly for assistance to specific categories of impoverished and disadvantaged individuals. Mentioned explicitly in the Qur'an, zakat is viewed as one of the five pillars of Islam, along with belief in the unity of God, obligatory prayers, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca for those who can afford the trip. The Qur'an provides only the broadest guidelines on zakat’s coverage, and it leaves open the issue of rates. By tradition, it is levied on agricultural output, livestock, minerals, and precious metals—the major sources of income and wealth in seventh-century Arabia.

In sum, while zakat formed a centrally administered, obligatory system during a brief but important segment of early Islamic history, for most of the religion’s life it has been administered in a decentralized manner, the agents of enforcement being peer pressure, fear of God, and the individual’s own conscience. Distressingly little research has been conducted on the voluntary system in operation. But the available studies suggest that only a fraction of the nonimpoverished population pays regularly.

117 But regardless of where they stand on the applicability of ancient interpretations, Islamic economists generally agree that if the moral guidelines of Islam are observed and enforced, the economic performance of Muslim societies will improve dramatically. People will readily sacrifice their own material pleasures for society’s interests. They will find their economic activities more fulfilling. Even their jobs will become more satisfying, as they take on the character of worship. Some writers observe such changes already in countries that have committed themselves to Islamization.

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