Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Abbas J. Ali
Chapter 10: Power and authority: the Ten Commandments perspective
The Islamic view of power and authority is often neglected in business literature. Though the subject of power and authority has tremendous impact on the daily lives of people, it is rarely given necessary attention in scholarly literature. There are perhaps two plausible reasons for this negligence. First, scholars in the Muslim world may purposely seek to avoid trouble in an environment where authoritarianism is common. In such an environment, due process seldom exists and arbitrary imprisonment is certain. Second, scholars may not have adequate training in the subject matter or adequate knowledge of indigenous sources and teachings to discuss it. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to articulate the benefits or harm caused by the application of power in political and economic affairs. Power and authority can either be instruments for advancing what is good and beneficial, or mechanisms for generating bad, harmful and tragic acts. Despite the good that might spring from using power, the fact remains that those in power and authority often neglect their duties toward others and the society. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have tackled this issue. The Ten Commandments (TCs) of each religion, though they might differ in certain aspects, offer a distinctive perspective on power and on mechanisms that prevent or limit harm to others (the emphasis of this chapter, however, will be on the ethical dimensions of power and authority in Islam).
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