Handbook of Research on Islamic Business Ethics
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Handbook of Research on Islamic Business Ethics

Edited by Abbas J. Ali

The complex relationship between society and business is vividly captured by ethical standards and obligations. This is especially pertinent in the Islamic world, where religion plays a key role in both social and commercial interactions. Many people see the presence or absence of ethical commitments as an indicator of whether business actors uphold their social responsibilities, and there is an increasing recognition of the significance of ethical value for business. This Handbook explores the interweaving relationship between Islamic business ethics and the market, and examines the critical role that ethics can play in ensuring that business thrives. By offering theoretical perspectives on research it goes beyond the conventional treatment of Islamic ethics, and asks what is important for the various market and social actors in the business world to behave in a morally responsible manner.
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Chapter 10: Power and authority: the Ten Commandments perspective

Abbas J. Ali


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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