Edited by M. Kabir Hassan and Mervyn K. Lewis
Chapter 4: Methodology of Islamic economics
The Islamic economics project launched in the early twentieth century needs to be restated and reformulated. Rather than confronting rival ideologies as was done at the beginning, Islamic economics today should be responding to the challenge of living by Islamic teachings about economic life as actually faced by people. In doing so we should be learning from our predecessors’ experiences, their achievements and their failures. Among the cardinal weaknesses of Muslims are lack of self-criticism and capacity to change and adapt to changing conditions. These must go. The current endeavors of other faith-based communities, and of non-religious but well-intentioned people, to escape from the tyranny of ideologies by making economics serve humane objectives deserve our involvement at the local as well as the global level. This approach, applied to finance, calls for reducing the role of debt in the economy and freeing finance from gambling. At the social level it calls for empowering the poor by imparting skills that could increase the income share of those at the bottom of the pyramid, resulting in restoring dignity to hundreds of millions. For the Muslim peoples it calls for restructuring the administration of zakat-Awqaf-Hajj and the philanthropy sector by allowing goal-oriented innovative practices. Lack of openness and inclination towards autocracy, the other fatal flaws in the make-up of the ummah, must be rectified by introducing transparency and democratic decision making. Islam is accommodative enough to allow a variety of models in Islamic economic management.
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