DEFINITION AND METHODOLOGY
Dr. MONZER KAHF
This chapter consists of four Sections or sub-chapters. They deal respectively with the issues of relevance, definition, and methodology of Islamic economics and with its relationship with other branches of knowledge. Section One examines the issue of the relevance of Islamic economics from different angles. First, it will discuss the relevance of economics to religion in general and Islam in specific. Second, it will study the relevance of Islamic economics to the contemporary body of human knowledge, and third, it will consider its relevance to individuals and societies in today's world at large and to Muslim countries and communities in particular.
Section Two is devoted to the definition of Islamic economics. It will survey different definitions suggested by several Muslim economists, compare them with each other and conclude with a selected definition. This Section will present a brief synopsis that is implied by the definition that we prefer prefers. A brief description of the subject matter of Islamic economics will also be given.
Section Three will analyze the issue of methodology and point out the similarities and differences between the methodology of economics and that of Islamic economics. The methodological question will be studied from the angles of Islamic economic system as well as from the angle of economic analysis. Lastly, Section Four will focus on the relationship between Islamic economics and other branches of human knowledge including humanities, social sciences and mathematics. It will give special attention to the relationship between Islamic economics and other branches of Islamic studies such as fiqh, 'usul al fiqh, hadith, tafsir and Islamic history.
RELEVANCE OF ISLAMIC ECONOMICS
RELIGION AND ECONOMICS
The domains of religion and economics
Religion in general deals with human beings essentially from the point of view of their relationship with the Supreme and the consequences of this relationship as far as the human beings' role and position in the world are concerned. It is obvious that the beliefs one holds about one's relation with the Supreme, one’s position among other beings, human and otherwise, and the role one believes one should play in one's surroundings, influence the shape of human behavior toward other people and things in the world.
Therefore, to understand the relation between religion and economics in an intelligent way, we must look into their respective definitions and scopes so that we may obtain a clear idea about any overlap or interrelation that might exist between them. Theologians and sociologists offer many definitions of religion of which we may mention only a few. In his book titled Al Din, [The Religion], M.A. Draz quotes several definitions of religion. Reveille, for example, defines religion as "the shaping of human life according to a bond between the human soul and a mysterious Soul, whose domination over the human soul and the world man recognizes and to whom he likes to feel attached." Michael Mayer defines it as "the set of beliefs and precepts that must guide us in our conduct toward God, other people and toward ourselves." The New Webster's Dictionary gives the following definition: "recognition by man of a controlling Superhuman Power entitled to obedience, reverence and worship." Not surprisingly, there is one common thing between these definitions; they all suggest that religion influences human behavior.
The Arabic word for religion, al din itself points to the meaning of a path or a way of life for which man is accountable and held responsible. Draz sums up all the definitions of religion as "a charter of conduct in life." From all this, the logical premise we can conclude is:
Religion provides norms and standards of behavior to
human beings in all aspects of life, spiritual, personal,
social, material and otherwise.
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