Error message

  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6656 of /home/u6746061/public_html/
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /home/u6746061/public_html/

Shari‘ah Economics as Autonomous Paradigm: Theoretical Approach and Operative Outcomes

Author (s): 


This paper proposes a conceptualization of Shari‘ah economics as a scientific paradigm which is autonomous from the conventional one. To this objective, it addresses both theoretical issues and operative aspects. (1) After a preliminary introduction on the current identity of Shari‘ah economics theory and practice, (2) the first section of the paper focuses on the theory of Shari‘ah economics with reference to the notion of paradigm in epistemology of science. (3) In this regard, the study reviews the ethical approach to Islamic economics and finance (IEF) for its intrinsic incapability to challenge conventional economics as universal paradigm. In fact, by setting an antithesis between homo-Islamicus and homo-economicus, this approach implicitly re-affirms the validity of the ‘universal’, locating Shari‘ah economics, as a ‘particular’ case of ethical investments, in an ana-logical relationship with it, where Islamic values rectify, but do not substitute, conventional rationales (Shari‘ah-compliant economy). (4) On the contrary, moving from an approach ‘universal/particular’ to a perspective ‘one/many’, the paper argues that the autonomy of Shari‘ah economics can be properly recognized by internalising Islamic values within an Islamic economic rationality as intellectual endeavour (ijtihad) aimed at reconciling divine omnipotence and human agency (Shari‘ah-based economy). Marking this turning point, the rationales of Shari‘ah economics are coherently identified through Shari‘ah (Qur’an and Sunna) in (a) the primacy of real economy over finance; (b) the equilibrium in commercial transactions; (c) asset-backed and risk-sharing investment strategies, and conceived as a paradigm which is not based on the division of economic resources (conventional economics), but on sharing goods through participating in the unique divine justice (Shari‘ah economics), and that can be set in a dia-logical relation with the former. From this theoretical shift, the paper derives relevant operative outcomes. (5) While in the approach ‘universal/particular’ Shari‘ah economics, as a ‘particular’, necessarily depends on the ‘universal’ for its elaboration, in a perspective ‘one/many’ IEF stands without a necessary comparison with/dependence on conventional economics. In other terms, since IEF products and services enjoy their own rationales, they can be ‘thought’ as Shari‘ah-based and not simply Shari‘ah-compliant. Accordingly, their configuration does not merely rectify conventional economics, but becomes ‘self-conceivable’ according to their own logical paradigm. On the matter, as practical examples, issues related to Islamic banking regulation and to the admissibility of Islamic derivatives are briefly discussed. (6) Rejecting an ‘ana-logical’ discourse (‘one’ paradigm) in favour of the recognition of ‘many’ autonomous paradigms, the paper concludes by emphasizing the viability of a dia-logical relationship between conventional and Shari‘ah economics, both in the light of the Qur’an and the rejection of a Eurocentric conception of science.


Shari‘ah economics; ethical investments; scientific paradigm


---- Qur’an: Translation of the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English language. Madinah: King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an.

---- Sunna: Wensick, A.J. (1936-1988). Concordance et indices de la Tradition musulman: les Six Livres, le Musnas d’al-Darimi, le Muwatta’ de Malik, le Musnad de Ahmad ibn Hanbal. 2nd ed. 1992. Leiden: Brill.

 Al-Amine, M. (2008). Risk management in Islamic finance: an analysis of derivatives instruments in commodity markets. Brill’s Arab and Islamic Laws Series. Leiden: Brill.

Al-Suwailem, S. (2006). Hedging in Islamic finance. Occasional Paper No. 10. Jeddah: Islamic Development Bank.

Archer, S., & Karim, R.A.A. (2009). Profit-sharing investment accounts in Islamic banks: regulatory problems and possible solutions. Journal of Banking Regulation, 10, 300-306.

Arif, M. (1989). Toward establishing the micro-foundations of Islamic economics: the basics of the basics. In A. Ghazali, & S. Omar (Eds.), Readings in the concept and methodology of Islamic economics (pp. 96-119). Selangor Darul Ehsan: Pelanduk Publications.

Asutay, M. (2007). Conceptualisation of the second best solution in overcoming the social failure of Islamic banking and finance: examining the overpowering of homoislamicus by homoeconomicus. IIUM Journal of Economics and Management, 15 (2), 167-195.

Asutay, M. (2008). Islamic banking and finance: social failure. New Horizon, 169 (1-3), October-December. London: IIBI.

Asutay, M. (2012). Islamic economics: between aspirations and reality. Papers of Dialogue, 3, 20-23.

Bala, A. (2006). The dialogue of civilizations in the birth of modern science. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Bernstein, P. (1996). Against the gods: the remarkable story of risk. New York: Wiley.

Cattelan, V. (2009). From the concept of haqq to the prohibitions of riba, gharar and maysir in Islamic finance. International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance, 2 (3/4), 384-397.

Cattelan, V. (2010). Islamic finance and ethical investments: some points of reconsideration. In M.F. Khan & M. Porzio (Eds.), Islamic banking and finance in the European Union. A challenge (pp. 76-87). Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.

Cattelan, V. (2011). A new model for options in Islamic law. In K.M. Hassan & M. Mahlknecht (Eds.), Islamic capital markets: products and strategies (pp. 201-217). London: Wiley Int.

Cattelan, V. (2013a). Introduction. Babel, Islamic finance and Europe: preliminary notes on property rights pluralism. In V. Cattelan (Ed.), Islamic finance in Europe: towards a plural financial system (pp. 1-12). Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.

Cattelan, V. (2013b). A glimpse through the veil of Maya: Islamic finance and its truths on property rights. In V. Cattelan (Ed.), Islamic finance in Europe: towards a plural financial system (pp. 32-51). Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.

Chapra, U., & Khan, T. (2000). Regulation and supervision of Islamic banks. IRTI Occasional Paper No. 3. Jeddah: IRTI, Islamic Development Bank.

Cihak, M., & Hesse, H. (2008). Islamic banks and financial stability: an empirical analysis. IMF Working Paper WP/08/16. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund.

Cizakca, M. (2011). Islamic capitalism and finance. Origins, evolution and the future. Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.

Dabashi, H. (2013). Can non-Europeans think? What happens with thinkers who operate outside the European philosophical ‘pedigree’? Al-Jazeera, 15 January 2013. Available at (accessed 20 January 2013).

Dogan, M. (2001). Paradigms in the social sciences. In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences, 16.

El-Gamal, M.A. (2000). An economic explication of the prohibition of riba in classical Islamic jurisprudence. Proceedings of the Third Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance, 3-8. Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

El-Gamal, M.A. (2001). An economic explication of the prohibition of gharar in classical Islamic jurisprudence. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on Islamic Economics, Leicester, UK, 2000. Islamic Economic Studies, 8 (2), 29-58.

El-Gamal, M.A. (2006). Islamic finance: law, economics, and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

El-Hawary, D., Grais, W., & Iqbal, Z. (2004). Regulating Islamic financial institutions: the nature of the regulated. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper WP/3227/2004. World Bank.

El-Hawary, D., Grais, W., & Iqbal, Z. (2007). Diversity in the regulation of Islamic financial institutions. The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, 46 (5), 778-800.

Geertz, C. (1983). Local knowledge. Further essays in interpretive anthropology. New York: Basic Books.

Hornby, A.S. (2000). Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary of current English. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hourani, G. (1985). Reason and tradition in Islamic ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

IFSB (2005). Guiding principles of risk management for institutions (other than insurance institutions) offering only Islamic financial services. Available at (accessed 30 June 2012).

Kamali, M.H. (1993). Fundamental rights of the individual: an analysis of haqq (right) in Islamic law. The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 10 (3), 340-366.

Khun, T. (1962, 1st ed.). The structure of scientific revolutions. 1970, 2nd ed. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Kuran, T. (1986). The economic system in contemporary Islamic thought: interpretation and assessment. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 18 (2), 135-164.

Lane, E.W. (1865). Arabic-English lexicon. 8 Vols. Available at (accessed 15 January 2013).

Laudan, L. (1977). Progress and its problems: towards a theory of scientific growth. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Le Goff, J. (1986). La bourse et la vie. Economie et religion an Moyen Age. Paris: Hachette.