RE-THINKING ‘ISLAMIC ECONOMICS' in the 21st CENTURY
[ IN THEORY AND PRACTICE ]
An ideal economic system can in broad strokes be defined as one that makes it possible to create a technology-driven structural change without commodifying the human lifeworld. Over the last two to three centuries, ex post, the students and practitioners of mainstream economics have failed in theorizing and establishing such a viable economic system to govern public-private intercourse in a sustainable manner, let alone to ensure social equity. Expectedly, this failure fed back, inter alia, into the outburst of the Great Depression of 1929, the Great Stagflation of the 1970s and, last but not the least, the Great Recession of today.
Islamic economics is a divinely-ordained system that has shaped a vast amount of people’s economic life in both public and private sphere from the 7th century onwards. The distinguishing feature of Islamic economics is the complementary alignment of its building blocks to realize economic efficiency and social equity in an inter-reinforcing manner. For example, the institutional complementarity between mudarabah (profit-and-loss sharing), interest prohibition and Zakah is geared to preclude speculative demand for money, increase marginal propensity to invest, make efficiency and innovation the basic catalysts of economic cycle, and equalize the distribution of income between haves and have-nots or between entrepreneurs and their financiers. In doing so, this complementarity strikes an intertemporal trade-off between short-run growth and long-run development in an Islamic economic model.
As a matter of fact, albeit this intercomplementary nature of Islamic economic institutions, contemporary Muslim societies have achieved limited success in putting them into practice with their inter-reinforcing dynamics. This limited success might be attributed to various reasons such as the Muslim countries’ underdeveloped or developing structures under the pressure of the capitalist world economy, their own pragmatism in applying these institutions, etc. What is evident though is that it has turned into a practical constraint on the effective understanding of Islamic economics par excellence between theory and practice.
Thus, at this critical turning point of the world economy, the Conference aims to achieve mainly two interrelated objectives. The first is to re-explore the building blocks of Islamic economics in systemic terms to explain away the practical constraints on the effective understanding of it. And the second is to bring Islamic economics into the fore as the unique economic system that provides economic actors with an enduring normative rationality requisite to realize economic efficiency and social equity in an inter-reinforcing manner across times and spaces.
On behalf of the IKDER and Istanbul University, Center for Islamic Economics and Finance , we cordially invite you to participate in the 9th International Conference of Islamic Economics. The Conference’s languages are Turkish and English and a translation service will be provided in the both languages throughout. Among the participants of the Conference, inter alia, take place academics, intellectuals, bureaucrats, and the representatives of civic organizations.
Halis Yunus Ersöz
Vice Rector, Istanbul University
I.U. Center for Islamic Economics and Finance