The Typewritten Market: Shariʿah-Compliance and Securitisation in the Law of Islamic Finance

In: Arab Law Quarterly
Valentino Cattelan Saudi-Spanish Center for Islamic Economics and Finance, Madrid, Spain

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By taking inspiration from Wisława Szymborska’s poetry and Brinkley Messick’s scholarship, this article interprets the law of Islamic finance as evidence of a radical shift in the social anthropology of Islamic law from classical to contemporary times. To this aim it highlights the changes from fiqh in medieval trade (where individual actions were judged according to rules legitimised by their own local context) to the current process of Shariʿah-compliance, arguing that this process belongs to a textual polity where standardised certificates, contracts and securities have replaced actual social relations in the global financial market. In the light of this, the article advances the notion of Typewritten Market to depict the nature of Islamic finance as a socio-economic space embodying a ‘de-materialised Šarīʿah’: that is to say, a meaning of Islamic law whose contemporary time belongs more to legal/financial technology rather than to Muslim human action.

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