Studies in Islamic Finance, Accounting and Governance series
Edited by M. Fahim Khan and Mario Porzio
Chapter 2: The Provision and Management of Savings: The Client–Partner Model
Gian Maria Piccinelli INTRODUCTION The ethical–religious character assumed today by Islamic banks, in the intent of preserving consistency with the divine precept prohibiting any kind of usury, is itself part of a common historical heritage; early Western depositories and, later on, banks were born from the same cultural hummus. The latter institutions appear only in more recent times to have ‘forgotten’ the ethical aspects connected to lending and, consequently, to the so-called irregular deposits. With reference to Islam, the fundamental and constant dialectic between ethics and market had already emerged with clarity in pre-capitalist times: the historical context in which the relation between qur’anic prohibition of usury and the financial demands of medieval trade surfaces is that of the city of Mecca, flourishing as one of the most prosperous trade centres at the time of the Prophet, showing indeed an indisputable understanding of such demands. This specific dialectic emerges as peculiar also to the other social contexts in which the other monotheistic religions were founded and began to spread. According to the historical accounts developed, and commonly acknowledged, by the monotheistic faiths, the first interference of divine origin into the economic field occurred at the time of the genesis, or, better, when our progenitors were removed from Eden and were prescribed to ‘earn bread by the sweat of their brow’, from which the duty of making profit from labour descends. From this event a (moral) question emerges concerning the method of profit-making and responsibility in the use of material...
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