The Political Economy and Underdevelopment of the Muslim World: A Juridico-Philosophical Perspective

In: Arab Law Quarterly
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  • 1 University of Durham, Durham, UK
  • 2 University of Leeds, Leeds, UK


This article studies the relation between Islam and economic development from a juridico-philosophical perspective. A fresh review of this issue is timely, because of the ongoing laggardness of Arab and Muslim economies due to decades of Pareto-inferior poverty traps. We disentangle the viewpoints on the Islamic-economic nexus and determine that the backwardness of Muslim countries’ economies is primarily due to the retrograde outlook of the jurists (fuqahāʾ). Flawed jurisprudential reasoning is instrumental in the paucity of financial instruments, markets, and institutional development. We also scrutinise the jurists’ co-option by the ruling elite, which legitimises the elite’s autocracy. We conclude by recommending a salient strategy critical to fostering economic development and growth.