The Political Economy and the Perennial Underdevelopment of the Muslim World
The ongoing political turmoil in the Muslim world necessitates an investigation of the factors leading to centuries of underdevelopment. This essay studies the various perspectives (for and against) attributing Islam as a factor holding back the progress of the Muslim economies. We critically appraise why ‘Islamic’ banking is not truly Islamic to identify: (i) the retrograding outlook of the jurists (fuqaha’); and (ii) their flawed ijtihad (interpretation or deduction of the divine sources of law) as the prime factors responsible for the paucity of development of financial instruments, markets and institutions. We also scrutinize the cooption of the jurists by the ruling elite, thereby legitimizing their autocracy. Finally, we conclude the paper recommending the rectification of these issues to develop institutions fostering economic growth and development.
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