There is a need to study the behavioral assumptions of Islamic economics, adopting an interdisciplinary approach. The assumption that men and women care for others, that they are not motivated by self-interest alone, is basic to Islamic economics. It is this assumption that distinguishes Islamic economics from Western economics. Next in importance is the assumption that education can sustain and promote altruistic behavior, that it can make men work for the social good even if it involves some sacrifice of personal gain. The economist needs the insights of psychology and sociology and those of history and anthropology for a proper study of these assumptions. Such a study may also define the limits within which the principle of care for others may operate. It is the balance between the two apparently conflicting principles of self-interest and altruism that supports the edifice of Islamic economics, with its clear recognition of private ownership and its overriding emphasis on public purpose. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to spell out the implication of conflict and point to the ways in which conflict situations may be resolved. There is an abundance of fiqh literature relevant to this issue.
Source: Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi, Economics An Islamic Approach. Republished with permission.
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