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But surely anybody with serious religious beliefs of any sort must be a fundamentalist in this sense? On the one hand, we cannot avoid labels if we are to talk about things, and we certainly cannot begin to make sense of an area as vast and complex as the modern Muslim world unless we can analyze its manifold phenomena into a manageable number of categories with suitable designations. Whenever the word and other comparable labels is used in this book, the precise connotation will be circumscribed by context.
To put it differently, the key distinction is between those more likely to follow the letter of religious texts including the fiqh of classical Islam and those more inclined to reason based on the spirit of the religion. Toward the extremes of the spectrum would be respectively those who have no quarrel with interest rates and therefore see no need for Islamic banking, and those who on principle reject the very concept of 57 banking because it does not go back to early Islam.
Most Islamic thinkers, however, fall outside such extremes and could be situated along the continuum. Different shadings and combinations of traditionalism— modernism produce infinite variations. Another illustration of selective adoption of innovations is of course the instrumental use made by the Ayatollah Khomeini of modern technologies during his exile. From this it is clear that the Muslim must not only abandon usury but that he is also 59 obliged to fight against usury.
Two strands can be found in the Islamic tradition. Both strands of course claim authenticity. Given the decentralized nature of the religious hierarchy, especially in the Sunni world, virtually any position could be legitimated by some approving fatwa. For the traditionalists, the words of the Koran and the Hadith, as well as classical fiqh, are sacred, and the interpretive leeway must be limited.
Anything new or different is frowned upon. In contrast, modernists, insofar as they believe Islam to be fully compatible with progress, rationality and science, do not feel it necessary to replicate the exact conditions of early Islam, but try to find proper Islamic responses to new challenges.
Consider for example new, complicated products such as derivatives. The traditional approach would consist in breaking them up into all their components and seeing what the schools of classical fiqh have to say about each of these components. The modern approach, relying on the basic principles and on the moral economy of Islam, would probably be more useful in the global economy.
Or consider zakat almsgiving. Under that system, rates on certain livestock, fruits and grain are specified with great care. For example, Caliph Umar decreed that dates and grapes were subject to zakat, while peaches and pomegranates were not.
A strict application of such rules could have absurd results. Contem- porary schemes to impose traditional zakat resulted in farmers, many of whom lived below the poverty line, being subjected to the tax, while most property owners and wage earners were exempted. In contrast many scholars have been dismissing the Islamic banking pheno- menon entirely.
Most recent books on Islam have the requisite chapter or paragraph, or sentence on Islamic finance, usually containing sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations about the phenomenon and its significance. The Islamic banking system is by some measures a success, by others a failure. It is in some ways unique, but at the same time, most operations of Islamic banks tend to mirror those of conventional banks. A binary approach cannot capture the nuances of Islamic finance.
Islamic law in fact accepts the notion of the time value of money or opportunity cost. As this book shows, Islamic finance has thrived in the global economy. Yet while Islam is well-integrated economically, it is often denigrated culturally and politically in the New World Order. Rather it seeks to show how and why, at various times and places, interpretations and practices have differed.
The purpose of this book is to dispel myths and stereotypes, and to present Islamic finance in all its complexity and diversity. Most broad questions on the subject are Islamic banks successful? In addition, most have a strong case-study orientation, focusing on a single country, sometimes on a single bank, to draw broad conclusions. Such approaches give short shrift to the diversity and complexity of the phenomenon.
In order to counter the common monolithic, abstract, and dogmatic perspectives, this book will adopt, insofar as it is possible in a single volume, an empirical, historical, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to shed light on a multidimensional topic.
Few facts are offered, many statistics are fudged or meaningless. A lot is based on the analyses and precepts of the first aggiornamento, with little attention paid to changes in global finance, let alone to the actual practices, results and performances of Islamic banks. Much of the liter- ature posits for example that Islamic banking is all about profit-and-loss sharing, when in reality such operations account for only a tiny part of Islamic banking.
Most studies of Islamic finance assume a closed, monolithic, unchang- ing world. Hence the emphasis on context — historical, political, economic, social and cultural. Examples abound of how deeply embedded Islamic financial institutions are, in their institutional and cultural framework.
Paradoxically, this has made the issue of Islamic banking and finance a politically sensitive one. The reason is that by the time Islamic banks came into existence, Saudi Arabia was a wealthy state — to a large extent a rentier economy, living off its oil production and the substantial revenues from its foreign investment and interest income.
Its economy was thus heavily dependent, directly and indirectly, on interest. In secular but cash-strapped Turkey, Islamic banks mostly from oil-rich Gulf states were welcomed, but were not allowed to use the word Islam in their name, nor refer explicitly to their Islamic character. In Jordan, the policy towards Islamic banks has reflected the accommodative policy towards Islamic groups in general.
In Malaysia and Indonesia, Islamic finance has reflected the more syncretic brand of Islam, the developmental nature of govern- ment policies as well as a variety of domestic considerations. The birth of Islamic finance is a product of the political economy of the s the increase in oil prices and the new assertiveness of the South, the ascendency of Saudi Arabia in regional politics and its control of the nascent pan-Islamic movement.
Since the s, the international political economy has changed beyond recognition. For lack of a better phrase, we will refer to the global economy, the widely used catch-all concept encompassing a wide range of phenomena: the end of the cold war and the emergence of a unipolar world, deregulation and increased openness of markets, the growing role of finance, the acceleration of technological change, etc.
A number of sections, particularly in Chapter 5 and in Chapters 8 to 12, will dwell on aspects of the global economy without which the evolution of Islamic finance would not be intelligible. Since its earliest days, economic Islam has known adaptation and change. A historical perspective is also necessary to understand the changing nature of the relations between Islam and the West, and the consequences of the alternation of eras of growth and ascendency with periods of stagnation and decline.
At a time when Europe was still in the Dark Ages, culture and knowledge thrived in the Islamic world. By the nineteenth century, most of the Islamic world was brought into a Western-imposed economic order for which it was ill-prepared. Between the golden age of Islam and this encounter, the world of ideas and institutions had changed dramatically.
Most institutions with relevance to finance that exist today — capital markets, corporations, etc. An intellectual and institutional revolution preceded and accompanied these changes. Although financial transactions had existed for a long time, there were, until the fourteenth century, no institutions exclusively devoted to banking.
The birth of modern banking occurred in northern Italy and soon spread to all of Europe. The long-held view could be summarized by the famous lines from Hamlet: Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. I, iii, 75—7 Then, following the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution, credit acquired a positive connotation.
The law has evolved,85 as did rhetorical arguments on most issues. From that standpoint, Islam may not be as irreconcilable with modern finance as many think. Indeed, in some respects, classical Islam anticipates modern finance.
Islam innovated in its perspective on private property, its emphasis on written contracts, and more generally, its favourable view of business endeavours. Some Islamic business forms, such as the commenda partner- ship, have found their way in European legal codes. And when medieval Europe tried to circumvent its own restrictions on interest, it adopted certain Islamic hiyal.
Yet if the Islamic world seemed throughout its golden age to be on the cusp of great discoveries, the period between the fifteenth and the twentieth centuries was one of stagnation and decline. Mohammed Arkoun noted that, during that period, much of the Islamic world experienced a double break — with its own past the classical era of the seventh through the fourteenth century , and with the West.
Some have argued that the word check [cheque] derives from the Arabic shakk [written non-monetary document]. For one thing, finance was never an autonomous activity; it was always a subset of commerce. And to a much greater extent than in the European economies of the late Middle Ages, financial relationships were embedded in personal and communal ties.
Western banking arose as a combination of two factors: the generation of capital by means of deposits of the many on the one hand, and money lending and the provision of credit for the few on the other. In the Islamic world, there was a disconnection between deposit and credit, and financial intermediation the conversion of deposits into loans was therefore not necessary. In one case it was to be returned untouched while in the other it could be used for credit purposes.
In the Islamic world, credit and financing operations were conducted through transactions, usually involving profit-and-loss sharing, unrelated to safekeeping. In addition, the need to aggregate small deposits and lend them was driven by the needs of perennially impecunious European princes. Comparisons are of course necessary to put any phenomenon in its proper perspective, and draw useful parallels.
In the case of Islam, and of Islamic finance, they are all the more necessary so that common myths evoked earlier can be dispelled. While the relation- ship of religion to politics has varied, religion is a way of life with a strong emphasis on community as well as personal life: the way of the Torah, the straight path of Islam, the middle path of the Buddha, the righteous way dharma of Hinduism.
They provide guidance for hygiene, diet, the managing of wealth, stages of life birth, marriage, 96 death , and ritual and worship. On matters of economics and finance, the Bible has over 2, references 97 to debt, saving, and charitable giving. The Talmud provides detailed injunctions on all aspects of business behaviour.
The Canon law of the Church discussed usury in excruciating detail. Nor are secular financial institutions necessarily divorced from religious considerations. By the same token, the religious revivalism movement is not exclusive to Islam, though it is seldom discussed from a comparative perspective. Most of the issues evoked can be looked at from different angles. Looked at from a purely economic angle, the riba debate may not seem like a big deal given that something equivalent to interest is likely to be devised, albeit under a different name.
Yet this very issue is quite consequential if considered from a marketing or from a religious standpoint. Similarly, from a religious standpoint — that of a devout customer or that of religious authorities — differences that are invisible to the secular eye could be far from inconsequential.
Five dimensions of the Islamic banking phenomenon are singled out for discussion in the last chapters of the book: management, economics, regulation, politics and religion. Notes 1. For more specific definitions, see Chapter 3. For example, prayer rooms, business hours that do not conflict with prayer and other religious obligations. Many Islamic institutions however still follow their own procedures. Algabid, pp. Ray, p. Frank E. Vogel and Samuel L. Samuel P. John L. See Chapters 2 and William E.
Esposito, p. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad ed. Butterworth and I. Botiveau and Cesari, pp. See Chapter Al-Azmeh, , p. Ian S. Binder, p. Shepard, p. James A. Kuran, p. Clement M. Roy, p. Warde, For critiques of such views, see Roy, pp. Irvin , p. Vogel and Hayes, p. Charles E. Bernstein, pp. Arkoun, p. Yves Thoraval, Dictionnaire de civilisation musulmane, Paris: Larousse , p.
Abraham L. Udovitch, p. See Chapter 7. Marty and R. With this in mind we can better understand how a system rooted in the Middle Ages could survive, and thrive, in the global economy. Following a broad overview of the parallel evolution of religion and history, this chapter explores the mechanisms by which Islam adapted to changing circumstances, and explains how Islam could accommodate itself with modern economics and finance.
Below it are the Hadith and the Sunna. Often used interchangeably, the first actually refers to the words and deeds of the Prophet while the second refers to the tradition or path established by those words and deeds. As for issues and questions not addressed by those primary sources, the proper Islamic view can be obtained through ijmaa and qiyas.
Ijmaa means consensus, and is based on the notion that the communal mind of Muslim scholars of a particular age provides assurance of freedom from error. Qiyas refers to reasoning by analogy or by logical inference based on primary sources.
The Shariah is the Divine Law derived from all these sources. The further down the pyramid, the broader the possible interpretations. The Koran, a short, specific text, is considered divine and eternal since it is the revealed word of God. The Hadith — a collection of narratives which were not set down in writing until two or three centuries later — provides a first area of con- troversy. A great number of Hadiths were deemed apocryphal, typically fabricated to support a particular political faction or opinion, and a long process of authentication did not dispel all doubts about the veracity of certain texts.
Interpretations can still differ quite significantly. Also, differ- ent traditions authenticate different Hadiths. By the tenth century, four main schools had emerged within the orthodox Sunni tradition the Shia had their own, separate schools : Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali.
Every Sunni is in theory a follower of one of these schools. In classical Muslim society, four qadis judges in each major city would apply one of these four traditions to fill in areas of the law that were left undiscussed in the Koran and Sunna. Over the years, however, each school found particular favour in certain local- ities, hence the geographical concentration of adherents that can be found nowadays. Hanbalis are primarily concentrated in Saudi Arabia. Malikis predominate in North and West Africa.
The most widespread of the schools is the Hanafi, which was once the official school of the Ottoman empire, and is thus influential in Turkey as well as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. It is also adhered to in much of the Indian subcontinent. The legal methodologies of these schools differ, combining different proportions of textual authority and analogical reasoning: the Hanbalis tend to adhere to literal interpretations of religious texts, while the Malikis and Hanafis allow wider discretion in the interpretations of such texts.
On a specific issue, different schools may be clear, ambiguous or silent. They also may be lenient or strict. All this of course runs counter to common generalizations. A truly unified and coherent community only existed in the early years of Islam.
An even more significant split occurred in when followers of Ali refused to acknowledge the authority of Muawiyah the founder of the Umeyyad dynasty and his successors, thus creating the Shia—Sunni divide. It is thus a mistake, common perceptions notwithstanding, to see Islam as a monolith.
It follows that most facile generalizations deserve to be nuanced. This period, which also coincided with remarkable territorial expansion, embodies the ideal of Islamic rule and social organization, a model that successive generations have striven to emulate. But soon afterwards, with the advent of the Umeyyad dynasty — , some measure of separation of temporal and spiritual functions appeared.
Although it was accompanied by bureaucratization, centralization, and attempts to reassert religious legitimacy, the cosmopolitan nature of the Abbassid empire further diluted the original Arab influence. Yet when and why the gates were closed — and most importantly whether those gates were really ever closed — is still being debated.
With the formal collapse of the Abbassid empire, the centres of power moved further away from the Arab core towards the Turkic world, and the Islamic world grew ever more fragmented. Though the rhetoric of the unity of spiritual and temporal power remained, secularist trends have been on the rise since the tenth century.
In the words of Edward Mortimer: In a sense … all genuine political authority in the mainstream Muslim tradition was secular after the loss of effective power by the Abbassids in the tenth century AD. Virtue and justice were no longer regarded as indispensable qualifications of a ruler. Political power was no longer the instrument through which the ideal community could be realized, but merely a prosaic necessity for the maintenance of order and security, and thus of the minimum conditions in which the faith could be practised and the Muslim community survive.
Great libraries and translation centres were established where the great works of philosophy, literature, medicine and science from East and West were collected and translated. Such knowledge was improved upon and formed a necessary link to later advances in the West. In the later Middle Ages, while Islamic culture and civilization still thrived elsewhere in North Africa and Spain, for example , the birthplaces of Islam and of the early Islamic empires had entered a long period of stagnation.
In later centuries, with a few exceptions, the Islamic world continued to stagnate, while European powers forged ahead. A well-known chain of historical events — the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolu- tion, Imperialism — created an unprecedented economic, political, cultural and intellectual gap between the Islamic world and the West.
Until then, most of the Islamic world had lived in relative isolation and kept to its traditional ways. While certain Islamic societies had proven quite dynamic, others had remained stagnant for generations. In those communities, there was a deep-seated suspicion of innovation bidaa.
Yet in a changing world, the habit of condemning absolutely every practice that did not go back to the time of the Prophet could not be sustained. Innovations would be analyzed on the basis of their intrinsic merits. In the confrontation with a strong and assertive Europe bent on exporting its ideas and institutions, certain scholars were more inclined than others to adopt alien ideas and customs.
Hence the disagreements between those who favoured taqlid imitation and those who advocated islah reform or tajdid renewal. Muslims were divided. While some did not see a necessary contradiction between Islam and Westernization, a number of political and religious movements emerged throughout the Islamic world, calling for a return to Islamic values and traditions. There was no clear consensus, insofar as some wanted a return to the past while others called for an update of Islamic doctrine.
Islamic modernists shared with traditionalist Islamist groups the belief that the ills of society were caused by the betrayal of Islamic ideals. While they shared with secularists the embrace of reason, science and progress, what set Islamic modernists apart was their belief that political liberalization and intellectual reawakening could be, indeed had to be, rooted in a return to Islam. A whole tradition of Orientalist writers posited axioms that later came to shape common perceptions of Islam.
Yahya Sadowski observed: When the consensus of social scientists held that democracy and development depended upon the actions of strong, assertive social groups, Orientalists held that such associations were absent in Islam. When the consensus evolved and social scientists thought a quiescent, undemanding society was essential to progress, the neo-Orientalists portrayed Islam as beaming with pushy, anarchic solidarities.
Middle Eastern Muslims, it seems, were doomed to be eternally out of step 18 with intellectual fashion. There were, nonetheless, from the nineteenth century, significant attempts to modernize Islamic doctrine. Perhaps the most influential movement was the Salafiyya, founded in Egypt in by the pan-Islamic forerunner Jamal al-Din Al-Afghani —97 , a Persian whose influence was felt throughout the Islamic world.
Through their journal al-Manar, Al- Afghani and his disciples, the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh — and the Syrian Rashid Rida — , sought to bring about political, legal, and intellectual reform. And fundamentalism — if defined as the effort to return to the fundamentals of the religion — is not necessarily the same as literalism.
The Prophet Mohammed was himself a merchant. In his twenties, he became the commercial agent of a rich widow whom he later married. Whereas it took Christianity centuries before it stopped regarding business as a degrading occupation,21 Islam from its inception explicitly legitimized private property, business enter- prise and profit.
As long as the merchant fulfils his religious duties, he is rewarded spiritually as well as materially , Muawiyah and his Umeyyad successors expanded the empire from their new capital, Damascus, into Europe and to the borders of India and China, inaugurating a new era of prosperity. The Abbassid caliphate, based in Baghdad, established links between the Mediterranean basin and the Indian Ocean, creating a single trading system that brought about significant changes in agriculture and crafts, and the emergence of 24 great cities.
As the economy became increasingly complex, a number of previously unknown questions — about administering an empire, regulating trade, taxation, etc. Institutional innovation occurred, for example with the creation of hisbah, an office in charge of supervising markets, providing municipal services, and settling petty disputes.
As for more theoretical issues dealing with economics, they were largely ignored by the fuqaha of the classical age. Best known for his pioneering work in history and sociology, he also wrote about supply and demand, capital formation, trade cycles, and the theory of value.
More importantly for our purpose, banks and other modern-style financial institutions had not yet come into existence. When they did, Islamic scholars had to struggle to reconcile a scholarly and legal tradition rooted in the medieval age with the exigencies of the modern world. Modernists managed to extend their influence with various degrees of success throughout the Islamic world.
Most constitutions and legal codes that were written in subsequent decades would usually invoke the Shariah, although in practice references to Islam were limited typically stating that the state religion would be Islam, that the head of state would be a Muslim, and that the Shariah would be a source of law. Most areas of the law with certain exceptions, such as family law were inspired directly or indirectly by Western models.
By later using Egypt as a model, other Islamic countries were indirectly influenced by French ideas. In addition, with the importation of Western models, the role of the ulema was reduced, and that of elected representatives enhanced. The s and s saw the advent of economic nationalism, with its emphasis on the role of the state as an engine of growth and development. Indeed, in economics as in politics, Islam does not provide an explicit blueprint. Two strands of Islam could be used to justify one or the other set of policies.
And in pursuing contro- versial policies on matters such as nationalization, land reform or family planning, Islamic symbols and references were occasionally used, and the government was careful to obtain approving fatwas. In other words, it is not designed to explain why economic events occur, but to shows the path to follow. It is subordinated to a totality ultimately determined by religion.
And although critical of capitalist and socialist ideologies, it incorporated elements of both, showing that Islam was not incompatible with modern economics. With the newfound wealth of oil-producing countries and the rise of Islamic militancy, the need to promote further thinking on economic matters gained new urgency. Unable to speak in a single voice, modern Islamists have settled for majority-based decisions.
Thus, in a new twist to the old doctrine of ijmaa consensus , scholars have been engaging in group or collective ijtihad. Gathering in convocations, scholars deliberate collectively and decide questions by a majority vote. For the first time in Islamic history, a high-level conference dealt exclusively with economic matters.
Concrete steps were taken to survey the field and promote Islamic economics as an academic discipline. And if we consider the institutions created by the Iranian revolution — the most significant Islamic revolution in modern times — a substantial amount of innovation has taken place.
It should be noted at first that Islamic commandments are not as unbending as they would superficially appear. Traditional Islamic injunc- tions are not framed as simple dichotomies, but situated along a continuum, thus allowing significant flexibility. Also, most injunctions contain dispensations and exceptions, thus showing considerable flexibility and pragmatism.
On the subject of fasting during Ramadan, the sick and the travellers could postpone their fasting, and those for whom it would cause hardship could dispense with it, compensating instead with a good deed such as feeding a poor person —5. The principles of Islamic jurisprudence usul el fiqh provide for a set of elaborate rules to interpret the Shariah. But the existence of such complex rules did not preclude adaptive mechanisms. More generally, three principles allow for departures from existing norms: local custom urf , the public interest maslaha , and necessity darura.
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