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Unformatted text preview: slamic economics, its scope, relation to economics,
methods and instruments of analysis and even some of its basic
assumptions. This paper is an attempt to reflect on the different opinions
about these issues and an endeavor to settle some of them as much as
this is humanly possible.
The rebirth of Islamic economics in this century was, generally,
dominated by Islamic thinkers and writers of general background. This
strongly influenced its scope and methodology by giving Islamic
economics a fiqhi and common knowledge type of tendency6. Islamic
economics had to wait until the mid seventies when a new generation of
trained economists started their research in Islamic economics.7 For
many reasons, there seems to be a tendency among some Islamic
economists to overstate the differences between Islamic economics and
conventional economics to the extent that some of us like to believe that
Islamic economics is a discipline of its own and quite independent from
conventional economics. The present paper does not take such a position. It tries to look into the common grounds and rationalize them,
to stylize the facts and assumptions and to justify any conclusion it
reaches. It will further attempt to show that there is certain degree of
6 Look for instance at the writings of Hasan al Banna and Abu al A'la al Maududi in the late
1930s and later Sayyed Qutb in the 1940s.
7 One should mention, however, that A.I.Quraishi, a professional economist, was pioneering
in his "Islam and the Theory of Interest" published in 1946. 4 inconsistency committed by some Muslim economists when they
incorporated assumptions alien to Islamic economics in their research.
The paper consists of two sections. Section one deals with the
definition of Islamic economics and its scope. it will analyze the definitions proposed by some writers and show their inadequacy and
sometimes irrelevance to the issue on hand.
Section two deals with the methodological issue. It will outline
the main methodological problem by addressing the question of whether
Islamic economics calls for a methodology of its own or, as an
"expanded" economics, it accepts the general framework of the scientific
methods applied in Western economics. 5 Section I
Definition of Islamic Economics and its scope
What does Islamic Economics Offer?
4. The term "Islamic Economics" may be justified as an identification of the area of studies that is based on the assumption of the
existence of Islamic axioms in the socio-political-cum-legal environment
and the system of values and ethics which guide the economic behavior
of men and women in an Islamic society. This way of looking at
"Islamic economics" becomes similar to the way "Capitalist economics"
is treated as economic analysis carried on the basis of the Capitalistic
paradigm. In this manner, Islamic economics, merely, becomes a branch
of the science of economics which should be studied within the area of
economic systems like other systems.
Consequently, it becomes obvious that this branch of the
economic discipline will have to elaborate the paradigm, axioms and
principles of the Islamic economic system, as well as to analyze the
impact it exercises on the economic magnitudes and on the decisions of
economic agents within the system. It also becomes obvious that, like
similar branches related to other economic systems, some of the tools of
economic analysis may not suit some of its axioms. Such tools will have
to be amended or substituted. But since such changes would not brand
any of the capitalistic or Marxist economics as an independent discipline,
6 Islamic economics cannot be branded as "another" branch of knowledge
which stands in contrast with the economic science, which is called by
some Islamic writers "conventional economics".
This conclusion may not be welcomed by Akram Khan8 and
Hasanuz Zaman9. Because, in their respective definitions, they seem to
consider Islamic economics as a replacement of the discipline of
"Conventional" economics itself. They describe Islamic economics in
terms of the presumptions of the Islamic way of life, i.e., the principle of
"Falah" with Khan, and "Shari'ah" with Zaman, as if the economic
behavior of human beings can only be practiced under Islamic
conjunctions and for the purpose of pleasing Allah (Subhanahu
Wata'ala). In the course of justifying their proposed definitions, both
Khan and Zaman suggested alternative definitions of the "economic
science" in the form of Islamic economics instead of seeking a definition
of a sub-branch of it, that applies in the framework of the Islamic
economic system. 8 Akram Khan, "Islamic Economics, Nature and Need", Journal for Research in Islamic
Economics, Vol. 1, No.2, 1404, the Center for Research in Islamic Economics, King Abdulaziz
University, Jeddah, pp. 55-61. His definition is "Islamic economics aims at the study of human
falah achieved by organizing the resources of earth on the basis of cooperation and
9 Hasanuz Zaman, "Definition of Islamic Economics", JRIE, Vol. 1, No.2, 1404, pp. 51-53.
His definition is "Islamic economics is the knowledg...
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- Fall '08