Islamic Economic

Some Dreams of a Separate Muslim Economy

Some currents in Islam, including political literalist Salafi-sm, want to separate Muslims to a large extent from the rest of the global economy. Influential Muslim economists such as M.A. Choudhury, for instance, have spoken out in favor of a separate group of Muslim countries setting up an Islamic World Trade Organization and freeing themselves from what they call ‘the yoke of Western dominance and manipulation’ in international economic relations. These countries would mainly trade with each other, ‘in a spirit of godliness and following the precepts of the sharia, with rules and institutions not imposed from above but developed in ongoing consultations’..........

Some currents in Islam, including political literalist Salafi-sm, want to separate Muslims to a large extent from the rest of the global economy. Influential Muslim economists such as M.A. Choudhury, for instance, have spoken out in favor of a separate group of Muslim countries setting up an Islamic World Trade Organization and freeing themselves from what they call ‘the yoke of Western dominance and manipulation’ in international economic relations. These countries would mainly trade with each other, ‘in a spirit of godliness and following the precepts of the sharia, with rules and institutions not imposed from above but developed in ongoing consultations’. This would bring ‘felicitous orders of balance, growth, goodness, purpose and distributive equity’, leading to ‘collective self-reliant development, complementarity and growth’. Even Western technology and science should not be imitated, as they are ‘inherently socially alienating’.

Another manifestation of the drive for a separate Muslim economy can be found in the Islamic Mint, which has its seat in Malaysia. The Islamic Mint officially launched the Islamic gold dinar just after the attack on the Twin Towers, namely on 7 November 2001. This dinar should, together with a silver dirham, help the Muslim world return to the days of the Caliphate. In the view of the Islamic Mint, fiduciary money is not acceptable as a currency for paying the religious tax, zakat, or for dowries. Fiduciary money, or paper money as they call it, is a mere promise to pay, as it has no intrinsic value. Zakat and dowries require real payments, not promises to pay, in their interpretation of Islamic law as distilled from the Hadith. Furthermore, dinars and dirhams should replace paper money, in particular, the US dollar, as a medium of exchange. This is because it is, again in their view, forbidden for Muslims to entrust wealth to non-Muslims, and what else is accepting US dollars, mere promises to pay, then entrusting wealth to non-Muslims? Nor are Muslims in their interpretation of sharia generally allowed to take a non-Muslim as a partner outside dar al-Islam, the territory of Islam, where Islamic law prevails, as they might cheat or use a Muslim’s wealth in forbidden
transactions. Within dar al-Islam, these restrictions are less binding, presumably because non-Muslims can be kept under strict supervision there.

In the same vein, a British-based organization, Al-Khilafah Publications, runs a website http://www.khilafah.com which blames capitalist economic policies for all economic ills in the Muslim world, though the siphoning off of the wealth of Muslims to Swiss bank accounts by corrupt governments plays a role as well, in their view. The solution touted is simply to restore the Caliphate.

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