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The Economic Ascent of the Middle East’s Religious Minorities: The Role of Islamic Legal Pluralism

  • Timur Kuran
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    In the nineteenth century, the Middle East’s Christian and Jewish minorities registered conspicuous economic advances relative to the Muslim majority. These advances were made possible by the choice of law available to non-Muslim subjects. Until the late eighteenth century, on matters critical to financial and commercial success, non-Muslims tended to exercise this privilege in favor of Islamic law, and this pattern prompted their own court systems to emulate Islamic legal practices. However, as Western Europe developed the legal infrastructure of modern capitalism, vast numbers of Christians and Jews made jurisdictional switches by obtaining the protection of European states. Along with tax concessions, they thus gained the ability to conduct business under Western laws.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/422707
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 2 (06)
    Pages: 475-515

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:33:y:2004:p:475-515
    DOI: 10.1086/422707
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    1. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
    2. James E. Rauch, 2001. "Business and Social Networks in International Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1177-1203, December.
    3. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 41-, March.
    4. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
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