Foundations of Islamic Economy, Islamic Scholarship, Mass Media, Linguistic Turn, and Social Mobility

Foundations of Islamic Economy, Islamic Scholarship, Mass Media, Linguistic Turn, and Social Mobility

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9731-7.ch009
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The world's reaction to the September 11th, 2001, event demonstrated its minimal understanding of Muslim societies from sociological, psychological, economic, and political perspectives.. In this chapter, socio-cultural, political, legal and historical forms of Islamic conditioning are reviewed to manifest how the Shi'ite clerical establishment became lenient towards what Weber called traditional capitalism. The impact of colonialism on Islamic societies and the political-religion bifurcations are discussed. A new and useful explanation of Islamic societies will assist one in looking at the Islamic world from a new perspective by synthesizing sociological and economic viewpoints, especially given the uneven globalization that is affecting Muslim societies. Patterns of intergenerational mobility in industrial nations and Islamic societies are reviewed. Only by developing a fresh perspective on the struggle of Muslim societies can the West understand how best to engage with these countries in order to precipitate reform and vastly improved relations. We concur with Esposito (1999) that our challenge is to better understand the history and realities of the Muslim world and to recognize the diversity and many faces of Islam.
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Ever since Adam Smith and Karl Marx, the fundamental questions of economy remain both ahistorical and historical, depending upon whose prescriptions are followed. For economists who followed Smith’s roadmap, the market operation is cherished by free competition; the psychology of the consumer is embedded in private ownership accompanied by the least amount of government intervention, or what is called “lean regulation.” The laissez faire system works well as long as self-interest is aimed in such a way that it promotes social interest rather than societal harm. The free market system rewards the honest, trustworthy, fair-dealing, creative, and tolerant business person. The necessary conditions for this to avoid economic crisis are high qualities of human nature and self-regulation. Unethical behavior could lead to personal and social disgrace. Economists are aware of the numerous qualifications of the invisible hands theorem, but as of late this awareness does not appear to have filtered down to the public-at-large. The government’s role in seeking to influence or mold the ethical climate of the society fails to enter into the economists’ frame of reference when thinking about policy issues.

The conservative capitalist economic system is based on the assumption that, eventually, the market will correct itself. At the time of an economic crisis, there is a tendency to ask for more government intervention, as is seen when market failure is more pronounced.

The Marxian roadmap, on the other side, promotes historical periodization; the psychology of the consumer is under the influence of sociological parameters. Karl Marx believed in the synthetic in terms of assimilation of politics and the economy, whereas Adam Smith relied on a priori. Both orthodoxies maintained different connotations of morality, and both sides considered their approaches to be fed by the scientific endeavor. It is noteworthy that these paradigms were anticipated by Ibn Khaldun (1989), a progenitor of supply-side economists, who meticulously combined analytical and interpretative approaches to economic thought, politics, history, language, and jurisprudence in his analysis of the societies under his investigation. In the fifteenth century, he, as a Muslim historian, sociologist, and jurist with a keen eye, unearthed a cyclical conception of power that seems to be very modern. He observed the perpetual cycle of political upheavals and changes through which we can infer the plausibility of social mobility and stratification. Similar to many Islamic political thinkers such as Farabi, an Iranian Muslim, Ibn Khaldun attributed social changes to the political structure via a traditional structural-functional perspective. Contrary to Marxism, the superstructure in the Khaldunic view depends on the political structure rather than economic foundations. This is based on his empirical sociology and ameliorated by his reliance upon the historical interpretation of Maghreb.

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