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Unformatted text preview: which Muslims did not need to restrict to a
23 Ibid. 24 Ibid., pp. 35-38. 25 Ibid., pp.35-38. 13 Muslim society or to the Islamic system. Why can’t we, Islamic
economists, think of an economics in a universal sense too? In fact, Ibn
Khaldun's 'Ilm al 'Imran covers, in a sense, economics as a sub-area. In
citing cases of human socialization included in the realm of his invented
science, he says "..... and what earnings, living, sciences, crafts [and
industries], etc. People have, by their works and efforts"26. As a part of
the study of human civilization and association, economics must be
defined as "the study of human behavior' individually and in groups,
with regard to the use of resources for the purpose of satisfying human
If we were to use Ibn Khaldun" terms, we would have added the
phrase "on its own nature" after the word "behavior", but I think "human
behavior is sufficient as it is a general term that applies to any and all
human beings regardless of any social, political, religious, or what not
affiliation. Thus economics, from the Islamic (Khaldunian) view
point studies the behavior of men and women, individually and in
their association and socialization, in order to understand the
patterns and modes of this behavior, its motives and incentives, as
well as its goals and objectives, and responses and reactions, with
and without being restricted to a specific situation, norms, set of
moral values, or legal, political, religious, etc. framework. 26 Ibid., p.35. 14 Consequently, laws of behaviour and collective and aggregate
relationships discovered by this study shall be applicable to all men and
women with situational variations resulting from the spiritual,
psychological, organizational etc. milieu or environment that establish
the circumstances of the behavior.
This discipline cannot be described un-Islamic because the word
"Islamic" does not appear in its name and definition, nor it is in need for
a deliberate effort for its Islamization. It is part of what God ordered us
to learn in this world in order to realize His Great Wisdom and because
such a study enables us to discover the universal laws,27 which make us
understand this area of man's life and reorient it, when necessary, to the
servitude of God, (Subhanahu Wata'ala).
Zarqa came very close to this when he accepted descriptive
postulates of "conventional" economics as part of "Islamic" economics.
He also suggested that Islam itself lays down certain descriptive
(positive) postulates that carry no value judgement. Such descriptive
statements are applicable to human beings, as such, by their own
nature28. They are capable of explaining human behavior in a universal
way regardless of religion, culture, level of development, race, etc.29 But
Laws here are not meant like the laws of physics, they could be statistical observations or
more generally descriptive statements. See Mark Blaug, The Methodology of Economics,
Cambridge University Press, New York/London, 1980, pp.161-163.
28 M. Anas Zarqa, Op.cit., pp.18-19. 29 Descriptive statements derived from revelation do sometimes better in explaining human
behavior than their counterparts which are introduced by western economists. Take, for 15 Zarqa could not detach himself completely from the current trend among
Islamic economists30, when he insisted that an Islamized economic
discipline is not able to explain behavioral patterns incompatible with the
Islamic ethics such as unjust transactions (e.g. effects of interest rate) or
the production of non-good commodities, (e.g. alcoholics).31
Besides emphasizing that the subject matter of economics is
human behavior, the definition stresses the micro and macro aspects of
behavior. Alongwith Ibn Khaldun’s approach in his ‘Imran, human
behavior has an individual aspect and an aspects resulting from the
socialization which is a macro or aggregate aspect that reflects groups’
or communities’ behavior.
Additionally, the suggested definition did not fall into the trap of
scarcity. Obviously only scarce resources are allocated by human effort,
but the utilization, and especially consumption, of non-scarce resources
should not be completely excluded from the arena of economics because
such consumption affects the welfare of human beings and influences
example, Kahf's extended time horizon proposition in the consumer utility maximization (see
Monzer Kahf, the Islamic economy, MSA of US and Canada, Indiana, USA. 1978, p.19), or the
multi-dimensional producer's function in producer's maximization proposed by M.N.Siddiqi in
The Economic Enterprise in Islam, Islamic Publications Ltd., Lahore, Pakistan, 1972, pp.1134. Zarqa, op.cit., pp.14-15, mentions several other postulates such as the relation between
wealth and aggression, love of wealth, i.e., more of wealth is preferred to less, etc.
30 Zarqa, Op.cit., p.39. 31
Goods as a noun is derived from go...
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This note was uploaded on 11/27/2011 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Robert during the Fall '08 term at Montgomery College.
- Fall '08