Law, State Power, and Taxation in Islamic History
The ruler's power varied greatly in Islamic history over time and space. We explain these variations with a political economy approach to public finance, identifying factors affecting economic power and its constraints. An influential interest group capable of affecting the ruler's power was the legal community ('ulama'). This community could increase the ruler's ability to extract a surplus from the citizenry by conferring legitimacy, thereby lowering the cost of tax-collection. It could also limit power through legal constraints on taxation. We show how changes in legitimacy and legal constraints affected the economic power of rulers in representative episodes of Islamic history and identify general trends and dynamic processes underlying the relationship between the state and the legal community.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2007|
|Date of revision:||Jul 2008|
|Publication status:||Forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2009|
|Note:||We thank Barclay Rosser, Timur Kuran, and two anonymous referees for detailed comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper presented at the Economic Research on Civilizations Conference on "The Economic Performance of Civilizations: Roles of Culture, Religion, and the Law," held at the University of Southern California in February, 2007. We have also received useful comments from other participants at the IERC conference and participants at the 2007 Economic History Association meetings in Austin, TX, and in seminars at UConn, Wesleyan, and Yale. We are grateful to Templeton/Metanexus Institute for financial support received through the IERC.|
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