Islamic Finance in Europe
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Islamic Finance in Europe

Towards a Plural Financial System

Edited by Valentino Cattelan

Highlighting the impact of current globalization on financial markets, this topical book challenges the universality of Western property rights and interprets Islamic finance in Europe as part of a plural financial system, where different conceptions of economic justice(s) co-exist and influence each other.
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Chapter 2: Law as a kite: managing legal pluralism in the context of Islamic finance

Werner Menski


At first sight, it seems irrelevant to discuss legal pluralism in relation to Islamic finance. However, discourses of Islamic finance in today’s globalized world are inevitably navigating concepts of legal pluralism, both in theory and in practice, since Islamic finance cannot simply be value-neutral commercial law. Eurocentric positivist arguments, asserting that law is ‘neutral’, rational and unconnected to morality and values, do not make sense in practice. They also conflict with equally self-righteous claims of Islamic law to be something inherently superior, as a God-given system, while in lived reality Islamic finance rules have to be applied and managed by humans, for the Qur’an is not a commercial code. This chapter therefore challenges the double whammy of al-qanun al-islami regarding Islamic finance (see also Cattelan, 2010) and highlights how pluralistic methodology becomes a critically relevant management tool in today’s increasingly heterogeneous world. Legal pluralism can be an epistemological tool, a multi-dimensional method or merely a descriptive device that facilitates analysis of people’s engagement in Shari‘ah compliant commercial transactions.

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