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Journey From Equality To Impoverishment

Excerpts from “Islamic Finance and Banking: The Challenge and Prospects”, Review of Islamic Economics, Khurshid Ahmad, Leicester, UK, No.9, 2000, pp. 57-58

“Muslims constituted the bulk of what now goes as the Third World. The position of this Third World in the 18th century vis-à-vis the West was in no way inferior. They lost the game in the following centuries of industrialization and Western imperialism. But the relative share of the Third World in world manufacturing output at the advent of the 19th century was three times higher than that of Europe and the per capita level of industrialization was comparable till 1800. The economies of the Muslim countries were, by and large, supported by a financial system that was not tainted with riba. Paul Kennedy gives a snapshot view of the world from 1750 to 1900.


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Table 1 – Relative Shares of World Manufacturing Output

Region/

Country

Years

1750

1800

1830

1860

1900

Europe

23.2

28.1

34.2

53.2

62.0

(Russia)

(5.0)

(5.6)

(5.6)

(7.0)

(8.8)

(U.K.)

(1.9)

(4.3)

(9.5)

(19.9)

(18.5)

USA

0.1

0.8

2.4

7.2

23.6

Third World

73.0

67.7

60.5

36.6

11.0

(India/Pakistan)

(24.5)

(19.7)

(17.6)

(8.6)

(1.7)

Table 2 – Per Capita Levels of Industrialization (1750-1900)

(Relative to UK in 1900 = 100)

Region/

Country

Years

1750

1800

1830

1860

1900

Europe

8

8

11

16

35

(Russia)

(6)

(6)

(7)

(8)

(15)

(U.K.)

(10)

(16)

(25)

(64)

(100)

USA

4

9

14

21

69

Third World

7

6

6

4

2

(India/Pakistan)

(7)

(6)

(6)

(3)

(1)

The scenario materially changed in the following two centuries of Western domination. In 1800, Europe occupied or controlled 35 percent of the land surface of the world. In 1878, its control extended to 67 percent of the world, and in 1914 it reached the high water mark of 84 percent. A new economic system was imposed on the world, an offspring of the marriage between capitalism and imperialism.”

 

Source: Contemporary Economic Challenges and Islam, Khurshid Ahmed. Republished with permission.