Unformatted text preview: of economics and does not justify a claim of a
different and “distinct” methodology.
25. This may be to the disliking of some Islamic economists, who prefer to present their subject-matter with a clear-cut independence
from conventional economics. In so doing, such economists
developed a tendency to reject many instruments of economic analysis
out of the desire to be distinct. This may be caused, at least partially,
by their confusing of axioms with methodology. For instance, the
maximization mechanism is a mathematical tool independent of the
function which is maximized. A completely materialist person with no
consideration of ethics and morals would only maximize his/her
material benefits.62 If such a person had to consider certain social
ethics, he/she would maximize the same subject to constraints implied
by the ethics he/she believes in. A Muslim who internalizes faith in
Accountability on the Day of Judgement and the Divine reward or
punishment attached to his/her economic decisions, and who acts
within a milieu of Islamic social and legal institutions, would
maximize a composite function that is derived from this kind of
beliefs. All these three types of economic agents may still use the
same mathematical tool of maximization. Therefore, the rejection or 62 Although many economists today argue that it is difficult to describe people as profit (or
utility) maximizers and that fairness, and manners affect human behaviour in addition to
utility. See, Colin Camerer and Richard H. Thaler “Anomalies; Altimatums, Dictators and
Manners” in Journal of Economic Perspectives, V.9, No.2, Spring 1995, pp.209-219. 36 modifications of the objective function a materialist person maximizes
does not warrant dissatisfaction with the tool of analysis he/she uses.
To throw more light on this commonness of tools, let us take an
example from the Qur’an. Since Qur’an was revealed in Arabic,
Usulists (scholars of rules of derivation of Shari’ah positions and
opinions) say that Qur’anic words must be understood in accordance
with their meaning in Arabic language. The meaning of the Qur’anic
terms íÊäÜÇ ÝÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÓand ÇáÜãÊäÜÇ ÝÓæä63 should be understood in accordance with the Arabic language. These two words,
thus, mean: to compete and competitors respectively. The concept of
competition used in the Qur’an with regards to the Hereafter pleasures
is the same Arabic concept used by the Arabs, fourteen centuries ago,
when they used to compete with each other in trade and other worldly
matters, i.e., the tool (concept of competition) is independent of the
objective, which is what people compete each other for. By the same
token, unless proven incompatible, an IS-LM model, for example, can
be used to analyze certain effects of Zakah in an Islamic society,
though it is a tool invented by non-Muslim economists.
26. In their efforts to cleanse economics from partial value-loaded judgments incorporated by western economists and to enrich it with
value-free axioms derived from revelation as a major source of human 63 The Qur’an, 83:26. 37 knowledge,64 Islamic economists may have to redefine and refine as
well a few fundamental concepts of economic theory, but they do not
need to negate its inductive methodology and tools of analysis on any
27. Lastly, it is important to note that the methodological controversy in economic theory is not yet over. Hence, Islamic
economists who, rightly, reject homoeconomucus models, do not
stand alone in this regards, as many conventional economists are
already dejected with such models.65 This means that the rigidity of
the neoclassical theorists is no more popular among the conventional
economists themselves. It has become established in the economic
profession that economics, as a social science, cannot be separated
from other branches of social studies nor from the ideology and values
of its professionals.66 Thus it is suggested that there should always be
a degree of ideological influence that may be tolerated and accounted
for by readers and theoreticians. It has also become established that
any one-sided approach can only observe one part of the show. The
call for a holistic approach to economics came from western quarters
long time before Islamic economists started talking about it. The 64 Because this comes from God, the Most Knowledgeable, it must provide better and more
comprehensive explanation of human behaviour than economists’ value-neutral postulates.
65 e.g., Gunnar Myrdal, “The Meaning and Validity of Institutional Economics” in
Economics in the Future, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1976, pp.82-89.
66 See Mark Blaug, Op.cit., especially ch.5, and Lawrence A. Donald. The Foundations of
Economic Methods, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1982, and several others. 38 Islamic economists’ claim over the holistic approach to economics
doesn’t seem as original as we once thought.67
42isesco.mk/rh 67 Akram Khan, Challenges of Islamic Econoics, Op.cit., pp.20-23. The same call was
voiced by Myrdal many years earlier, Myrdal, Gumar, op.cit., Even J.S. Mill, the so called
inventor of “homo economicus” never thought of a “homo economicus” separable from
non-economic motives and objectives. See: Persky, Joseph; “The Ethology of Homo
economicus JEP, V.9, No.2, Spring 1995. 39 References
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