This major new study examines the central tenets of Islamic economics, both in theory and in practice. The authors pinpoint the uniqueness of the Islamic approach, both in its conception of the world’s resources and in its attitude to human endeavour. Their book illuminates the distinctive nature of an economics which is based neither on meeting the demands of the individual consumer, nor on increasing the level of general welfare, but on maximising the pleasure of God. The different schools of Islamic thought are then compared and their interpretations analysed in terms of their approaches to plan and market, centralisation and decentralisation, property rights, profit and social obligation. A detailed historical survey follows of the experience of four very different Muslim countries: Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran.
The book as a whole allows the reader to grasp the multifarious nature of Islamic thought in economic matters, its contradictory and often contentious character, and the uses to which Islam has been put by governments with clearly diverse aims. Students of economics and of the Middle East will find it a useful guide to the new terms in which an old and fierce debate is being conducted.