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Islamizing Economics

Since the Islamization of economics is already in progress, I prefer first to describe it as it is actually taking place. I will then suggest some priorities for future work with a view to speeding up the process.

The starting point of this process of Islamization is the mind of the economist who is aware of Islam or of the concerned Muslim who is also an economist. Neither can escape the realization that Islam is relevant to economics. This realization is not based only on what the Qur’an prescribes in economic matters: moderation in consumption, spending in the cause of Allah, prohibition of interest, etc. It is also underscored by the way the Qur’an describes good life and approved behavior, contrasting it with bad life and undesirable behavior. Attitudes toward property, work, trade, saving, spending and so on may differ, and these attitudes have different consequences for the individual as well as for society. Men and women are certain to be concerned about these consequences and hence the need to analyze, describe, and prescribe. Thus a concerned Muslim economist is drawn to the study of motivation, behavior, institutional arrangements, and policies. His analysis is objective, but the perspective set by moral and social concerns is never lost. His policy prescriptions are directed toward goals whose desirability is based on revealed guidance, but the need for being realistic and for correct analysis of the existing situation is never forgotten. The professional economist who is aware of Islamic perceptions is also able to launch similar ventures even though they are purely "scientific," that is, devoid of the moral concern of a committed Muslim. In a mixed world of concerned Muslim economists who are aware of Islam but not committed to it, Islamic economics is able to draw on the labors of both.


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This process has been going on for some time. It is time to ask what has been its outcome to date. Has it resulted in the discovery of some new truths? Could it succeed in adding new dimensions to our understanding of the economy? Has it enabled us to arrive at new ways of making Islamic economics more conducive to human welfare?

It can be argued that the Islamization process has drawn attention to behavior patterns and institutional arrangements resulting from the Islamic nature of the individual and society. The realization that these patterns may be more relevant to an Islamic as well as an Islamizing people than those incorporated into modern economics has diverted some energies to their study. New tools are being designed to analyze an Islamic economy and to help it achieve its policy ends. It will be useful to report briefly what has been achieved in this regard. We will then address ourselves to the question of how to proceed further in this venture.

 

Source: Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi, Economics An Islamic Approach. Republished with permission.