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Islam and the Moral Economy
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  • Page extent: 240 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.5 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 297.273
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: BP173.75 .T75 2006
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Islam--Economic aspects
    • Capitalism--Religious aspects--Islam

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521863773 | ISBN-10: 0521863775)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$90.00 (P)

Islam and the Moral Economy

How do modern Muslims adapt their traditions to engage with today's world? Charles Tripp's erudite and incisive book considers one of the most significant challenges faced by Muslims over the last sixty years: the challenge of capitalism. By reference to the works of noted Muslim scholars, the author shows how, faced by this challenge, these intellectuals have devised a range of strategies which have enabled Muslims to remain true to their faith, whilst engaging effectively with a world not of their own making. The work is framed around the development of their ideas on Islamic socialism, economics and the rationale for Islamic banking. While there are those who have resorted to confrontation or insularity to cope with the challenges of modernity, most have aspired to innovation and ingenuity in the search for compromise and interaction with global capitalism in the twenty-first century.

CHARLES TRIPP is Reader in Politics with reference to the Middle East in the Department of Political and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His many publications include Iran and Iraq at War (1988, with Shahram Chubin), Iran–Saudi Arabia Relations and Regional Order (1996, with Shahram Chubin) and A History of Iraq (2000, 2002).

Islam and the Moral Economy
The Challenge of Capitalism

Charles Tripp

University of London

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Charles Tripp 2006

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2006

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

ISBN-13 978-0-521-86377-3 hardback
ISBN-10 0-521-86377-5 hardback
ISBN-13 978-0-521-68244-2 paperback
ISBN-10 0-521-68244-4 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Emily and Rhiannon


Acknowledgements page viii
Glossary ix
Introduction 1
1 The ‘social problem’ 13
1.1  Discovering society 15
1.2  Property and social power 22
1.3  Education to restore the moral economy 32
2 Islamic social critics 46
2.1  Social solidarity 51
2.2  Property and its social function 56
2.3  The problem of money 64
Maslahah – society's interests 68
3 Islamic socialism 77
3.1  Islamic socialism and state development 80
3.2  Social harmony and the moral economy 92
3.3  Identifying Islamic sociability 97
4 Islamic economics and Islamic banks 103
4.1  Economics and Islamic economics 105
4.2  Development and efficiency 113
4.3  Social welfare and individual interest 119
4.4  Zakat and riba: instruments of the moral economy 124
4.5  Islamic banks: the argument for Islamic agency 133
5 Repertoires of resistance: Islamic anti-capitalism 150
5.1  Sayyid Qutb and Ali Shari‘ati: the power of subjectivity 152
5.2  The ‘guarded sphere’: gender and action 167
5.3  Violence and meaning 180
Conclusion 194
Bibliography 202
Index 225


Writing a book which deals in some measure with the moral problems of debt and repayment has made me acutely conscious of the debts of gratitude that I owe to all those who have helped me in my work. They have been many, both institutional and individual, and I would like to express my thanks to them all for having advised and assisted me along the way.

In particular, I would like to thank the Nuffield Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Board for the grants which helped to support my research and to provide the precious time needed for writing, free of teaching and administrative duties. In this respect, I would also like to thank my colleagues in my department and in the library at the School of Oriental and African Studies whose support gave me the time needed to complete this project and whose expertise helped me greatly in my research. I also acknowledge with gratitude the assistance of the staff at the Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyah, at CEDEJ and at the American University in Cairo, at the library of the Mu'assasat Al al-Bait, at Jordan University Library and at the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, as well as at the British Library and at the library of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

There are many who have helped me during my research, who have given advice and encouragement and whose own work has sent my thoughts along paths that I might not otherwise have followed. In particular, I stand indebted to Hind and Mohsen Muhammad, James Piscatori, Muhammad Abd al-Halim, Sami Zubaidah, Fred Halliday, Sudipta Kaviraj, Ben Fortna, Kathryn Dean, Bill Hale, Eberhard Kienle, Malise Ruthven and Ali Rahnema. Finally, no book can appear without the confidence of the publisher in the project and in the author. I would therefore like to thank Marigold Acland, Senior Commissioning Editor at Cambridge University Press, for the faith she has shown in my work.

I cannot discharge the debts I owe to all those who have made this book possible, but I hope at least that it can stand as a token of my gratitude to them.


chador lit. tent, thus cloth covering a woman's body
faqih (pl. fuqaha’) jurist
fatwa judgement
fiqh jurisprudence
hadith saying or tradition of the Prophet Muhammad
halal permitted
haram forbidden
hijab woman's head covering or veil
ijma‘ consensus
ijtihad independent interpretation of a legal or theological question in Islam
infitah lit. opening, thus the opening of the economy to private and foreign capital
ishtirakiyah socialism
jahiliyah (adj. jahili) lit. ignorance, thus the period prior to the Islamic era
jihad effort or struggle (on behalf of Islam)
mal wealth
maslahah welfare
milk property
mudarabah contract in which a lender puts up capital and a borrower invests time, energy and expertise
muhtasib inspector of markets and public morals
mujahid (pl. mujahidun; Persian mojahed) struggler, fighter
mujtama‘ society
murabahah contract in which a lender buys goods on behalf of another party and charges that party a fee
musharakah contract in which both borrower and lender make a financial investment in a venture
mu‘tazilah school of speculative theology in medieval Islam
nass text
purdah (female) seclusion
qiyas analogy
riba interest
salafi (pl. salafiyun) one who follows the example of the earliest Muslims
shari‘ah Islamic law
shirk polytheism
sunnah legally binding precedents established by the rulings of the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad
surah chapter of the Qur'an
tafsir exegesis (of the Qur'an)
tanzimat nineteenth-century reform movement of the Ottoman Empire
‘ulama (sing. ‘alim) Islamic scholar
ummah (Muslim) community
wali al-amr principal political authority
watan fatherland
zakat alms, thus alms tax
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