Islamic economic jurisprudence
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Islamic economic jurisprudence, also Islamic commercial jurisprudence, or fiqh al-mu'amalat, (Arabic: فقه ألمعملة) refers to the rules of financial transacting in a Shari'a compliant manner, or economic activity conforming to Islamic scripture (Quran and sunnah). Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) has traditionally dealt with issues in terms of determining what is permissible or prohibited according to the scripture of Quran and ahadith, (whether dealing with issues like property, money, employment, taxes, etc. or anything else). On the other hand, economics being a social science studied how to best achieve certain policy goals, such as full employment, stability, economic growth, and improving efficiency, and equity. Since the 1970s, Islamic economics has been introduced as an academic discipline in a number of institutions of higher learning throughout the Muslim world and in the West.
The central features of an Islamic economy are often summarized as: (1) the "behavioral norms and moral foundations" derived from the Quran and Sunnah; (2) collection of Zakat and other Islamic taxes, (3) prohibition of interest (riba) charged on loans.
Islamic movements and authors generally describe an Islamic economic system as neither socialist nor capitalist, but as a "third way", an ideal mean with none of the drawbacks of the other two systems.
Among the claims made by Islamic activists and revivalists for an economic system that will be based on Islam are that the gap between the rich and the poor will be reduced and prosperity enhanced,[verification needed] by such means as the discouraging of the hoarding of wealth,[verification needed] taxing wealth (through zakat) but not trade, exposing lenders to risk through Profit sharing and venture capital,[verification needed] discouraging of hoarding of food for speculation,[verification needed] and other sinful activities such as unlawful confiscation of land.[verification needed]
- 1 History
- 2 Property
- 3 Markets
- 4 Banking
- 5 Popularity and availability
- 6 Views
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Traditional Islamic concepts having to do with economics included:
- Zakat—the "charitable taxing of certain assets, such as currency, gold, or harvest, with an eye to allocating these taxes to eight expenditures that are also explicitly defined in the Quran, such as aid to the needy."
- Gharar—"uncertainty". The presence of any element of excessive uncertainty, in a contract is prohibited. This applies not only to insurance but also trading in derivatives, short selling and other speculative transactions like day trading.[verification needed]
- Riba—"referred to as usury (modern Islamic economists reached consensus that Riba is any kind of interest, rather than just usury)"
Another source lists "general rules" include prohibition of Riba, Gharar, and
- Qimar (gambling) and
- the encouragement of Taa’won (mutual cooperation),
- "the overriding doctrine of fairness in commercial dealings is established."
These concepts, like others in Islamic law, came from
As always in Muslim law, these [economic] concepts are constructed on the basis of isolated prescriptions, anecdotes, examples, words of the Prophet, all gathered together and systematized by commentators according to an inductive, casuistic method." 
While Islamic law does distinguish between ibadat (ritual worship such as prayer or fasting) or muamalat (acts involving interaction and exchange among people such as sales and sureties), scholar Olivier Roy has noted the recentness of reflecting on economic issues in the Islamic world, and the difference between economics the social science, and Islamic economics, i.e. Islamic law or jurisprudence pertaining to economic issues.
Even as late as the 1960s, Islamic scholar Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in his book of fatawa Tawzih al-masa'il, did not use the term `economics` or `economy`, or combine questions on economic issues in one heading. He approached the subject of economy
"as the classical ulamas do ... the chapter on selling and buying (Kharid o forush) comes after the one on pilgrimage and present economic questions as individual acts open to moral analysis: `To lend [without interest, on a note from the lender] is among the good works that are particularly recommended in the verses of the Quran and the in the Traditions.`"
Classical Muslim economic thought
Among the important early Muslim scholars who made valuable contributions to Islamic thought on economic issues are Abu Yusuf (d. 798), Al-Mawardi (d. 1058), Ibn Hazm (d. 1064), Al-Sarakhsi (d. 1090), Al-Tusi (d. 1093), Al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Al-Dimashqi (d. after 1175), Ibn Rushd (d. 1187), Ibn Taymiyyah (d.1328), Ibn al-Ukhuwwah (d. 1329), Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 1350), Al-Shatibi (d. 1388), Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), Al-Maqrizi (d. 1442), Al-Dawwani (d. 1501), and Shah Waliyullah (d. 1762).
Perhaps the most well–known Islamic scholar who wrote about economics was Ibn Khaldun, who is considered a father of modern economics. Ibn Khaldun wrote on economic and political theory in the introduction, or Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), of his History of the World (Kitab al-Ibar). He discussed what he called asabiyya (social cohesion), which he cited as the cause of some civilizations becoming great and others not. Ibn Khaldun felt that many social forces are cyclic, although there could be sudden sharp turns that break the pattern.
His idea about the benefits of the division of labor also relate to asabiyya, the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the successful division may be, the greater the economic growth. He noted that growth and development positively stimulates both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determines the prices of goods. He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development. In fact, Ibn Khaldun thought that population growth was directly a function of wealth.
During the modern post-colonial era, as Western ideas (including Western economics) began to influence the Muslim world, some Muslim writers sought to produce an Islamic economics discipline. Islamic scholars who considered Islam to be a complete system of life in all its aspects, rather than a spiritual formula believed that it logically followed that Islam defined economic life, unique from and superior to non-Islamic systems.
More conservative salafi have shown less interest in socioeconomic issues, asking the question, "the prophet and his companions didn't study `laws` of economics, look for patterns, strive for understanding of what happens in commerce, production, consumption. Why should we?"
- Shia ideas
In the 1960s and 1970s, Shi'a thinkers worked to describe Islamic economics' "own answers to contemporary economic problems." Several works were particularly influential:
- Eslam va Malekiyyat (Islam and Property) by Mahmud Taleqani (1951),
- Nidham ul-Iqtisad fil Islam (The Economic System of Islam) by Taqiuddin Nabhani (1953),
- Iqtisaduna (Our Economics) by Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr (1961) and
- Eqtesad-e Towhidi (The Economics of Divine Harmony) by Abolhassan Banisadr (1978)
- Some Interpretations of Property Rights, Capital and Labor from Islamic Perspective by Habibullah Peyman (1979).
Al-Sadr in particular was described as having "almost single-handedly developed the notion of Islamic economics"
In their writings, Sadr and the other authors "sought to depict Islam as a religion committed to social justice, the equitable distribution of wealth, and the cause of the deprived classes," with doctrines "acceptable to Islamic jurists," while refuting existing non-Islamic theories of capitalism and Marxism. This version of Islamic economics, which influenced the Iranian Revolution, called for public ownership of land and of large "industrial enterprises," while private economic activity continued "within reasonable limits." These ideas informed the large public sector and public subsidy policies of the Iranian Revolution.
- Post-socialist trend
In the 1980s and 1990s, as the Islamic revolution failed to reach the per capita income level achieved by the regime it overthrew, and Communist states and socialist parties in the non-Muslim world turned away from socialism, Muslim interest shifted away from government ownership and regulation. In Iran, "eqtesad-e Eslami (meaning both Islamic economics and economy) ... once a revolutionary shibboleth, is indubitably absent in all official documents and the media. It disappeared from Iranian political discourse about 15 years ago ." During the era of Zia-ul-Haq, several Islamic economic concepts and practices were introduced into the domestic economy, as part of Zia's Islamisation reforms (see Islamic economics in Pakistan).
In other parts of the Muslim world, however, the term lived on, shifting form to the less ambitious goal of interest-free banking. Some Muslim bankers and religious leaders suggested ways to integrate Islamic law on usage of money with modern concepts of ethical investing. In banking this was done through the use of sales transactions (focusing on the fixed rate return modes) to support investing without interest-bearing debt. Many modern writers have strongly criticized this approach as a means of covering conventional banking with an Islamic facade.
- Business method patents
With the recent ability to patent new methods of doing business in the United States, a small number of patent applications have been filed on methods for providing Sharia compliant financial services. These pending patent applications include:
- US US20030233324A1 Declining balance co-ownership financing arrangement. This discloses an allegedly Sharia compliant financing arrangement for home purchases and refinances that does not involve the payment of interest.
The Qur'an states that God is the sole owner of all matter in the heavens and the earth, but man is God's viceregent on earth and holds God's possessions in trust (amanat). Islamic jurists divide properties into public, state, private categories.
Some Muslims believe that the Shariah provides "specific laws and standards regarding the use and allocation of resources including land, water, animals, minerals, and manpower."
Scholars F. Nomani and A. Rahnema state that public property in Islam refers to natural resources (forests, pastures, uncultivated land, water, mines, oceanic resources etc.) to which all humans have equal right. Such resources are considered the common property of the community. Such property is placed under the guardianship and control of the Islamic state, and can be used by any citizen, as long as that use does not undermine the rights of other citizens, according to Nomani and Rahnema.
Muhammad's saying that "people are partners in three things: water, fire and pastures", led some scholars to believe that the privatization of water and energy is not permissible. Muhammad allowed other types of public property, such as gold mines, to be privatized, in return for tax payments to the Islamic state. The owner of the previously public property that was privatized pays zakat and, according to Shi'ite scholars, khums as well. In general, the privatization and nationalization of public property is subject to debate amongst Islamic scholars.
Perhaps due to resource scarcity in most Islamic nations, Islamic economics emphasizes limited (and some claim also sustainable) use of natural capital, i.e. producing land. These latter revive traditions of haram and hima that were prevalent in early Muslim civilization.
State property includes certain natural resources, as well as other property that can't immediately be privatized. Islamic state property can be movable, or immovable, and can be acquired through conquest or peaceful means. Unclaimed, unoccupied and heir-less properties, including uncultivated land (mawat), can be considered state property.
During the life of Muhammad, one fifth of military equipment captured from the enemy in the battlefield was considered state property. During his reign, Umar (on the recommendation of Ali) considered conquered land to be state rather than private property (as was usual practice). The purported reason for this was that privatizing this property would concentrate resources in the hands of a few, and prevent it from being used for the general good. The property remained under the occupation of the cultivators, but taxes were collected on it for the state treasury.
Muhammad said "Old and fallow lands are for God and His Messenger (i.e. state property), then they are for you". Jurists draw from this the conclusion that, ultimately, private ownership takes over state property.
There is consensus amongst Islamic jurists and social scientists that Islam recognizes and upholds the individual's right to private ownership. The Qur'an extensively discusses taxation, inheritance, prohibition against stealing, legality of ownership, recommendation to give charity and other topics related to private property. Islam also guarantees the protection of private property by imposing stringent punishments on thieves. Muhammad said that he who dies defending his property was like a martyr.
Islamic economists classify the acquisition of private property into involuntary, contractual and non-contractual categories. Involuntary means are inheritances, bequests, and gifts. Non-contractual acquisition involves the collection and exploitation of natural resources that have not previously been claimed as private property. Contractual acquisition includes activities such as trading, buying, renting, hiring labor etc.
A tradition attributed to Muhammad, with which both Sunni and Shi'a jurists agree, in cases where the right to private ownership causes harm to others, then Islam favors curtailing the right in those cases. Maliki and Hanbali jurists argue that if private ownership endangers public interest, then the state can limit the amount an individual is allowed to own. This view, however, is debated by others.
When Muhammad migrated to Madinah many of the Muslims owned agricultural land. Muhammad confirmed this ownership and allocated land to individuals. The land allotted would be used for housing, farming or gardening. For example Bilal b. Harith was given land with mineral deposits at 'Aqiq Valley Hassan b. Thabit was afforded the garden of Bayruha and Zubayr received oasis land at Khaybar and Banu Nadir. During the reign of caliph Umar, a vast expanse of Persian royal family terrain had been acquired, this lead his successor Caliph Uthman to accelerate the allotment of land to individuals in return for a portion of the crop yield.
According to Nomani and Rahnema, Islam accepts markets as the basic coordinating mechanism of the economic system. Islamic teaching holds that the market, given perfect competition, allows consumers to obtain desired goods and producers to sell their goods at a mutually acceptable price.
Three necessary conditions for an operational market are said to be upheld in Islamic primary sources:
- Freedom of exchange: the Qur'an calls on believers to engage in trade, and rejects the contention that trade is forbidden.
- Private ownership (see above).
- Security of contract: the Qur'an calls for the fulfillment and observation of contracts. The longest verse of the Qur'an deals with commercial contracts involving immediate and future payments.
Another author (Nima Mersadi Tabari) claims that the general doctrine of fairness in sharia law creates "an ethical economic model" and forbids market manipulation such as "inflating the price of commodities by creating artificial shortages (Ihtekar), overbidding for the sole purpose of driving the prices up (Najash) and concealment of vital information in a transaction from the other party (Ghish)".
Further, "uninformed speculation" not based on a proper analysis of available information is forbidden because it is form of Qimar, or gambling, and results in accumulating Maysir (unearned income). Commercial contracting under conditions of "excessive uncertainty" (however that is defined) is a form of Gharar and so also forbidden.
Nomani and Rahnema also contend that Islam promotes a market free from interferences such as price fixing, hoarding and bribery. Government intervention, however, is tolerated under specific circumstances.
Another author (Nima Mersadi Tabari) states that in Islam "everything is Halal (allowed) unless it has been declared Haram (forbidden)", consequently "the Islamic economic model is based on the freedom of trade and freedom of contract so far as the limits of Shari’ah allow".
Nomani and Rahnema say that Islam prohibits price fixing by a dominating handful of buyers or sellers. During the days of Muhammad, a small group of merchants met agricultural producers outside the city and bought the entire crop, thereby gaining a monopoly over the market. The produce was later sold at a higher price within the city. Muhammad condemned this practice since it caused injury both to the producers (who in the absence of numerous customers were forced to sell goods at a lower price) and the inhabitants.
The above-mentioned reports are also used to justify the argument that the Islamic market is characterized by free information. Producers and consumers should not be denied information on demand and supply conditions. Producers are expected to inform consumers of the quality and quantity of goods they claim to sell. Some scholars hold that if an inexperienced buyer is swayed by the seller, the consumer may nullify the transaction upon realizing the seller's unfair treatment. The Qur'an also forbids discriminatory transactions.
Bribery is also forbidden in Islam and can therefore not be used to secure a deal or gain favor in a transaction, it was narrated that Muhammad cursed the one who offers the bribe, the one who receives it, and the one who arranges it.
Nomani and Rahnema say government interference in the market is justified in exceptional circumstances, such as the protection of public interest. Under normal circumstances, governmental non-interference should be upheld. When Muhammad was asked to set the price of goods in a market he responded, "I will not set such a precedent, let the people carry on with their activities and benefit mutually."
The Quran (3: 130) clearly condemns riba (which is usually translated as "interest"): "O, you who believe! Devour not riba, doubled and redoubled, and be careful of Allah; but fear Allah that you may be successful."
Public finance (Bayt-al-Mal)
The concept of a collective or shared bank played a historic role in the Islamic economy. The idea of state collected wealth being made available to the needy general public was relatively new. The resources in the Bayt-al-Mal were considered God's resources and a trust, money paid into the shared bank was common property of all the Muslims and the ruler was just the trustee.
The shared bank was treated as a financial institution and therefore subjected to the same prohibitions regarding interest. Caliph Umar spoke on the shared bank saying: "I did not find the betterment of this wealth except in three ways: (i) it is received by right, (ii) it is given by right, and (iii) it is stopped from wrong. As regards my own position vis-a-vis this wealth of yours; it is like that of a guardian of an orphan. If I am well-off, I shall leave it, but if I am hard-pressed I shall take from it as is genuinely permissible."[verification needed]
Most Islamic economic institutions advise participatory arrangements between capital and labor. The latter rule reflects the Islamic norm that the borrower must not bear all the cost of a failure, as "it is God who determines that failure, and intends that it fall on all those involved."
Conventional debt arrangements are thus usually unacceptable—but conventional venture investment structures are applied even on very small scales. However, not every debt arrangement can be seen in terms of venture investment structures. For example, when a family buys a home it is not investing in a business venture—a person's shelter is not a business venture. Similarly, purchasing other commodities for personal use, such as cars, furniture, and so on, cannot realistically be considered as a venture investment in which the Islamic bank shares risks and profits for the profits of the venture.
Savings and investment
An alternative Islamic savings-investment model can be built around venture capital; investment banks; restructured corporations; and restructured stock market. This model looks at removing the interest-based banking and in replacing market inefficiencies such as subsidization of loans over profit-sharing investments due to double taxation and restrictions on investment in private equity.
Islamic banks have grown recently in the Muslim world, but are a very small share of the global economy compared to the Western debt banking paradigm. Hybrid approaches, which applies classical Islamic values but uses conventional lending practices, are much lauded by some proponents of modern human development theory.
Popularity and availability
Today many financial institutions, even in the Western world, that offer financial services and products in accordance with Islamic finance. For example, Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2003 introduced legal changes that enabled British banks and building societies to offer so-called Muslim mortgages for house purchase.
In 2001, the US's first Sharia-compliant home financing institution, Guidance Residential, was launched based on the concept of diminishing musharaka, growing to the largest Islamic home financing company in the US. . In 2004 the UK's first standalone Sharia-compliant bank was launched, the Islamic Bank of Britain. In 2006, the Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) was founded, and as of July 2013 is the largest Islamic bank in Europe. Several banks offer products and services to UK customers that adopt the Islamic financial principles; such as Mudaraba, Murabaha, Musharaka and Qard.
The Islamic finance sector was worth 300–500 billion dollars (237 and 394 billion euros) as of September 2006, compared with 200 billion dollars in 2004. Islamic retail banks and investment funds number in the hundreds and many Western financial institutions offer compliant products, including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and UBS. In 2008, at least $500 billion in assets around the world were managed in accordance with Islamic law and the sector was growing at more than 10% per year.
Sohrab Behada's study argued that the economic system proposed by Islam is essentially a capitalist one.
In Shia Islam, scholars including Mahmoud Taleghani and Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr developed an "Islamic economics" emphasizing the uplifting of the deprived masses, a major role for the state in matters such as circulation and equitable distribution of wealth, and a reward to participants in the marketplace for being exposed to risk and/or liability.
Islamic economics has been attacked for its alleged "incoherence, incompleteness, impracticality, and irrelevance;" driven by "cultural identity" rather than problem solving. Others have dismissed it as "a hodgepodge of populist and socialist ideas," in theory and "nothing more than inefficient state control of the economy and some almost equally ineffective redistribution policies," in practice.
In a political and regional context where Islamist and ulema claim to have an opinion about everything, it is striking how little they have to say about this most central of human activities, beyond repetitious pieties about how their model is neither capitalist nor socialist.
While Muslims believe Islamic law is perfect by virtue of its being revealed by God, Islamic law on economic issues was/is not "economics" in the sense of a systematic study of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. An example of the traditionalist ulama approach to economic issues is Imam Khomeini's work Tawzih al-masa'il where the term "economy" does not appear and where the chapter on selling and buying (Kharid o forush) comes after the one on pilgrimage. As Olivier Roy put it, the work "presents economic questions as individual acts open to moral analysis: `To lend [without interest, on a note from the lender] is among the good works that are particularly recommended in the verses of the Quran and the in the Traditions.`"
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- Mohammad Omar Farooq, Riba, Interest and Six Hadiths: Do We Have a Definition or a Conundrum?
- Mahmoud el-Gamal, "An Economic Explanation of the Prohibition of Riba in Classical Islamic Jurisprudence", Rice University, Houston, Texas.
- Methodology of Economics: Secular versus Islamic
- Maryam Ayaz, Islamic Banking, Finance & Economics
- Islamic Economics booklist
- AusCIF Islamic Finance Resources & Learning Centre
- An Introduction to Islamic Economics, "What is Islamic Economics?"