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Unformatted text preview: od as an adjective, it is loaded with value judgement,
thus it is equal to Khayrat ÎíÑÇÊ when the latter is used to mean morally approved
commodities, See Kahf, op.cit., pp.22-23. 16 their moral and spiritual (gratitude to God) attitudes, as the Prophet is
quoted "won't I be a thankful servant (of God)". Besides scarcity is
relative to human effort and knowledge.32
The suggested definition also refers to the human material
objectives instead of desires, wants or needs that are common in the
Western definitions of economics, and in place of the "falah" and
"perform obligation to Allah" that are found in certain Islamic definition.
"Human objectives" is a neutral term that applies equally to God-fearing
human beings, agnostics and disbelievers. Further the adjective "material" is included in order to exclude human efforts related to
spiritual upliftment and other non-material human objectives.
11. Finally, the scope of "economics" as redefined from Islamic point of view is the human behavior, in all its facets, under all sorts of moral
and religious values, and within all kinds of social, political and legal
frameworks. The economic theorization should be able to explain the
behavior of believers and disbelievers in their pursuit of material
objectives; it should have the capability of understanding the motives for
a riba-based financing, a mark-up based murabahah sale, and a profit and
loss sharing participatory financing. 32 God gave knowledge to Adam (The Quran, 2:31) that the latter can count on in making
best use of all resources around him. 17 12. An important conclusion from the above is that Islamic economists need to rethink about what economics is all about and
whether we really have to create an alternative to "economics" in the
form of Islamic economics" or simply to have an Islamic perspective of
the same discipline. More specifically the previous discussion indicates
the following :
i) There is a need for a discipline33 which studies issues
usually described as the subject matter of economics on a
universal basis.34 This need is similar to that which was 33 The degree of the influence of values on this discipline is similar to that of all social
sciences. At the time that one tends to reject the extremist view that all descriptive theorems of
this discipline are mere value judgements, one can hardly defend the claim that it is immune to
value loaded premises. See Mark Blaug, op.cit., pp. 134-135. Section two will show that the
Divine Revelation reduces the role of value-loaded premises in understanding human behavior.
34 Sultan Abu 'Ali, in his "al Mushkilat al Iqtisadiyyah al 'Alamiyyah al Mu'asirah wa
Halluha al Islami" (World Contemporary Economic Problems and their Islamic solution), a
discussion paper by the International Center for Research in Islamic Economics, 1981 (p.19),
argued that the central problem of the economic discipline should be shifted from the allocation
of resources to the restriction of human wants. Unfortunately the latter is a subject for biologist
who may develop means to reduce the sustenance needs of human beings! Or moralists who
may convince men and women to prefer less over more material goods and services. Anyhow,
at any level of biological and moral progress, there remains a problem of allocation of "scarce
resources" to be studied by economists, since by "scarce", it is always meant relative to their
uses. Moreover, even in perfect Islamic society where the moral axiom of "no extravagance"
is internally observed by individuals and externally enforced by law, human wants and desires
remain greater than resources to the extent that wants can be treated as unlimited for all
analytical purposes, especially if we add Zarqa's argument that one of the positive postulates
derived from the revelation is that human beings prefer more over less. See Zarqa op.cit., p.15.
This is not to say that the patterns of consumption in the affluent society, with all its over
consumption and waste that Abu Ali criticized, does not pose a serious challenge to resource
allocation through market mechanism and creates undesired distortions in distribution. This
phenomenon calls for dissatisfaction with the market mechanism as a sole allocator of resources
and a sole distributor of income rather than a redefining economics. On the other hand, when
economists (Muslim or otherwise) define the economic problem as one of allocation, thus
restricting their discipline to this well defined arena, they always mean that the solution to this
problem may be sought through this discipline under the ceteris paribus assumption.
Everybody, Muslims as well as others, know that dealing with human beings cannot be except 18 felt by Ibn Khaldun when he invented ‘Ilm al Imran. In
other words, even if there were no economics at our time,
Islamic economists should feel the urge to create it.
ii) There is no need to add the adjective "Islamic" to such a
discipline, this addition is not required by our religion, and
Muslim scholars did not do it when they were leading
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- Fall '08