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

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  • Timur Kuran

Abstract

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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  • Timur Kuran, 2004. "The Economic Ascent of the Middle East’s Religious Minorities: The Role of Islamic Legal Pluralism," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 475-515, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:33:y:2004:p:475-515
    DOI: 10.1086/422707
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    Cited by:

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    3. Li, Zhuo & Panza, Laura & Song, Yong, 2019. "The evolution of ottoman–European market linkages, 1469–1914: Evidence from dynamic factor models," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 112-134.
    4. Fletcher, Erin K. & Iyigun, Murat, 2009. "Cultures, Clashes and Peace," IZA Discussion Papers 4116, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Sascha O. Becker & Jared Rubin & Ludger Woessmann, 2020. "Religion in Economic History: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 8365, CESifo.
    6. Timur Kuran, 2004. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 71-90, Summer.
    7. Saleh, Mohamed, 2018. "On the Road to Heaven: Taxation, Conversions, and the Coptic-Muslim Socioeconomic Gap in Medieval Egypt," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 394-434, June.
    8. Timur Kuran, 2005. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 1, March.
    9. Metin M. Coşgel & Boğaç A. Ergene, 2014. "The selection bias in court records: settlement and trial in eighteenth-century Ottoman Kastamonu," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(2), pages 517-534, May.
    10. Rubin, Jared, 2010. "Bills of exchange, interest bans, and impersonal exchange in Islam and Christianity," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 213-227, April.
    11. Saleh, Mohamed, 2013. "On the Road to Heaven: Self-Selection, Religion, and Socio-Economic Status," IAST Working Papers 13-04, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST), revised Dec 2015.
    12. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.
    13. Seven Ağir, 2018. "The rise and demise of gedik markets in Istanbul, 1750–1860," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 133-156, February.
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    15. Noland, Marcus, 2005. "Religion and economic performance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1215-1232, August.
    16. Anderson, R. Warren & Johnson, Noel D & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "From the Persecuting to the Protective State? Jewish Expulsions and Weather Shocks from 1100 to 1800," MPRA Paper 44228, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Bingyuan Hsiung, 2013. "Guanxi: Personal connections in Chinese society," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 17-40, April.
    18. Cigdem Borke TUNALI & Laurent WEILL, 2019. "Is Corruption a Greater Evil than Sin?," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2019-05, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.
    19. Bodoh-Creed, Aaron L., 2019. "Endogenous institutional selection, building trust, and economic growth," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 169-176.
    20. Rehman Scheherazade S. & Askari Hossein, 2010. "An Economic IslamicityIndex (EI2)," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 10(3), pages 1-39, October.
    21. Cemal Eren Arbatli & Gunes Gokmen, 2016. "Minorities, Human Capital and Long-Run Development: Persistence of Armenian and Greek Influence in Turkey," CESifo Working Paper Series 6268, CESifo.
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    23. Gani Aldashev & Imane Chaara & Jean-Philippe Platteau & Zaki Wahhaj, 2012. "Formal Law as a Magnet to Reform Custom," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 795-828.

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