Saturday, 7 June 2014


Alhamdulillah Thanks to Allah for this note which I found while I goggled "current islamic economics issues". It is written by Dr Asad Zaman, IIU Islamabad. 

Reading the note giving me some smart ideas on why and what should I do as a Muslim economist. 

1. Are Islamic Financial Institutions a success story for IE? 
Unlikely a yes because to the extent that IFI represent the reshaping of Islamic Laws in accordance with the demand of modernity, these represent the failure rather than the success of IE.

2. TWO types of biggest failures of IE 
As we likely to agree that IE concern for justice, equity and multidimensional conception of human development (which is not confined to money and wealth) and this represents a paradigm shift and a radical alternative to neoclassical views.  Unfortunately, the existing literature in IE does not reflect this radical perspective. Numerous literature introduce Islamic concepts entirely within a neoclassical framework, or else make minor adjustments to it, and therefore cannot form a basis for a paradigm shift. At the same time, some literature discuses the radical concepts discussed by Islam in a general, philosophical way, without offering any means of operationalizing concepts. 

3. Lets ponder that: 
Even though that we agreed that Islam highlight helping the poor and needy as something urged, yet we still marginally participated in the huge literature which has since developed. Even central issues like the effects of zakat on the poverty have been addressed in a general theoretical and argumentative way with little attention to empirical effects and operational method of utilization of zakat funds for poverty alleviation. 

4. Another area which yet lacked of empirical studies are (among others): 
The Islamic teaching of spending in the path of Allah. Muslims have not made any systematic study of charity behavior of Muslims, nor have they made any comparative studies of Muslim and non Muslim societies with regard to charity contribution 

On the same ground, the studies on concept of Homo Islamicus unlikely to have experimental economists demonstrated in real life situation i.e. to prove human beings will accept personal loss for achieving broader goals of justice, equity etc 

At the same time, the teaching that Islam has been substantially more concerned on spiritual and moral development of human beings and not so much with material development. Unfortunately, these ideals were duly espoused in the literature, no operational or empirical aspects were developed. Notice that other researchers developed the Human Dev Index etc to bring their components of development. 

One should also aware that Muslims economists are still nowhere when it comes to theory. We still have no consensus as to what field is what guiding principles are, what methodology should and what IE are trying to achieve. There are huge responsibilities to study the rise and fall of Muslim economies in the past, the lag between the Islamic norms and the actual behavior of economic agents, and the causes of the problems faced by Muslim countries. From both theoretical and operational approach, IE has been unable to suggest a balanced package of policy proposals on what and how things should be done.  

One of the most important thing is that IE cannot be developed by representing the critique of neoclassical views and offering suitable modifications. Rather, our analysis must be rooted in an analysis of our own experience, and developed in the course of struggling to solve our economic problems. In this process, we may of course fruitfully borrow relevant tools and tactics from the West, but we cannot found our analysis on Western premises. 

5. What are supposed to be our FOCUS?

We obviously should work on how to solve real economics problems by putting extremely good ideas on operationalizing strategies . Still remember the Prophet SAAS method? Exemplary method in da'wah. IE is the same, guys!

We have to be at our best, try to define "problems" and set our own agenda. For example privatization, gender equality and democratization are not sensible problems to us as Muslims. Yet, we have to consider for example  "role of government" which Islam introduces the concept of al hisbah. Studies should be done to particularly cater the governance issues and put forward the applicable solutions.

It is now the time to picture IE not only in theoretical framework but to materialize it into a practical system that the whole society could benefit from.

It is a FULL STOP from being in UTOPIA! 

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