Economic Theology of Islam

Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
87 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Mohammad Kabir Hassan, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Muhammad Khan, Independent Researcher, Lahore, Pakistan
Islamic economics has made a respectable progress during the last four decades. A brief assessment of the existing literature on Islamic economics leads to identification of gaps. The most glaring deficiency in the existing literature is that it restates Islamic economic teachings but does not move any far toward transforming this knowledge into a social science that  would allow verification or falsification of its postulates. Besides, there are several problems with the framework of Islamic economics. The paper proposes a methodology for transforming Islamic economic teachings into Islamic economics as a social science. The paper also presents a definition of Islamic economics that aims to overcome the deficiencies of the definitions presented so far.  Islamic economics has its roots in the divine sources of Islam. Despite a respectable body of literature on the subject, a little progress has been made in developing theory of Islamic economics. The paper proposes a methodology for making a beginning in this direction. The divine sources of Islam are sacrosanct. However, human understanding of the divine texts is not. The paper argues that the Muslim economists can proceed toward developing theory by translating human understanding of the divine texts into hypotheses. The format of the hypotheses should allow verification or falsification in light of empirical data or rational reasoning. The hypotheses which cannot be verified or which are falsified would be rejected. The process would allow accumulation of a body of hypotheses which can be extended for more general application under varying assumptions.  The paper demonstrates application of the proposed methodology by suggesting a number of hypotheses on five themes of the Qur’an which have some content for developing economic theory. These themes are: riba, infaq, shukr, tauba and taqwa. The proposed hypotheses are only examples and would require refinement before they are adopted for actual testing. Once the methodology is accepted, it would be possible to develop similar hypotheses on other subjects in the Qur’an and hadith.