The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History
There appear to be two seemingly contradictory images of law and economic change in the Islamic world. Whereas some scholars have viewed Islamic societies as rigid and incapable of adapting to a changing environment, others have held the opposite image of Islamic societies as flexible, quick to adapt to change, and conducive to economic development. Researchers have often focused on either stagnation or change as being the more representative image that needs explanation, rarely looking to explain why both images coexisted. Using a political economy approach, this paper explains the nuanced flexibility of Islamic law by focusing on the relationship between the ruler and the legal-religious community. This community has been an influential group in Islamic societies because of its power in the interpretation and adjudication of the law and its ability to confer legitimacy on the rulers. Change or stagnation has emerged as the outcome of the strategic interaction between the rulers and legal community, rather than from a fixed characteristic of Islamic societies or an intrinsic quality of a new development.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Note:||Previously posted as paper 2007-47 in this series under the title "Stagnation and Change in Islamic History"|
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