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paper_of_methdology - ISLAMIC ECONOMICS NOTES ON DEFINITION...

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ISLAMIC ECONOMICS: NOTES ON DEFINITION AND METHODOLOGY by Monzer Kahf __________________________________________________________ _ The writer is a free lance research. He wishes to thank Dr. M.N. Siddiqi and Dr. M. Anas Zarqa of the Center for Research in Islamic Economics, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah and Drs. Muhammad Osman, Mahmud Gulaid, Rida Sadallah and Ausaf Ahmad, all from IRTI, and three anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper. Naturally, he is solely responsible for its ideas and mistakes.
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1 INTRODUCTION Islam and economics 1. That Islam is a total way of life, economic and otherwise, is an established postulate which is rarely challenged, today, by any one, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In the past centuries of Islam, Muslim scholars did not need to emphasize this point because their understanding of the words “Religion Ï íÜÜÜÜÜÜä” and “Islam Ç ÓÜÜÜÜÜáÇã” was not subjected to distortions such as those which have been introduced in the modern Muslim world, especially over the last two centuries by western colonialism and cultural influence. Amazingly, when Muslim scholars of the second and third centuries of Islam embarked on massive translations of the Greek and Latin heritage, in which they translated philosophy, mathematics and physical sciences, they never felt a need to translate the Roman laws. Apparently, because they considered Roman laws in gross conflict with Islamic principles. 1 1 Shaikh ‘Izzeddin K. al Tamimi, “Comments on Anas Zarqa’s Theoretical Problems in Islamic Economic Research” presented at the Seminar on Problems of Research in Islamic Economics, held in Amman, Jordan, April 23-26, 1986 and organized jointly by the Islamic Research and Training Institute of the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, and the Royal Academy for Research in Islamic Culture of Jordan. See the Seminar Proceedings, in Arabic, p. 91.
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2 The word “religionÏ íÜÜÜä” implies the compliance of one’s behavior with certain beliefs and commandments 2 , while the word “Islam Ç ÓÜÜÜÜÜáÇã” indicates submittance of one’s conduct to Shari’ah 3 . The two sources of Islam, Qur’an and Sunnah , emphasize the inclusion of the economic behavior of human beings under the norms, moral values, and behavioral standards, they prescribe. This is even evident in the Makkan verses of the Qur’an which were revealed during the pre-migration period of the Prophet (PBUH), especially that the Makkan period was a time of formulation of the basic Islamic ideology and a critical assessment of the then prevailing patterns of conduct. 4 So much so that a big portion of the bulk of fiqhi [Jurisprudence] heritage, which is itself based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah , deals with forms of economic behavior and related business relations.
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