From an article, or rather, a book-review and summary by Daniel Pipes of Professor Timur Kuran’s indispensable study, “Islam and Mammon”:
[“¦] Now teaching at Duke University, Kuran finds that Islamic economics does not go back to Muhammad but is an “invented tradition” that emerged in the 1940s in India. The notion of an economics discipline “that is distinctly and self-consciously Islamic is very new.” Even the most learned Muslims a century ago would have been dumbfounded by the “Islamic economics.”
The idea was primarily the brainchild of an Islamist intellectual, Abul-Ala Mawdudi (1903-79), for whom Islamic economics served as a mechanism to achieve many goals: to minimize relations with non-Muslims, strengthen the collective sense of Muslim identity, extend Islam into a new area of human activity, and modernize without Westernizing. [“¦]
Kuran dismisses the whole concept of Islamic economics. “[T]here is no distinctly Islamic way to build a ship, or defend a territory, or cure an epidemic, or forecast the weather,” so why money? He concludes that the significance of Islamic economics lies not in the economy but in identity and religion. The scheme “has promoted the spread of antimodern currents of thought all across the Islamic world. It has also fostered an environment conducive to Islamist militancy.”
Indeed, Islamic economics possibly contributes to global economic instability by “hindering institutional social reforms necessary for healthy economic development.” In particular, were Muslims truly forbidden not to pay or charge interest, they would be relegated “to the fringes of the international economy.”
In short, Islamic economics has trivial economic import but poses a substantial and malign political danger.”
Nota Bene the antepenultimate paragraph:
“[T]here is no distinctly Islamic way to build a ship, or defend a territory, or cure an epidemic, or forecast the weather,” so why money? He concludes that the significance of Islamic economics lies not in the economy but in identity and religion. The scheme “has promoted the spread of antimodern currents of thought all across the Islamic world. It has also fostered an environment conducive to Islamist militancy.”
If one wants some guide to what Islam means for the economy, simply imagine Saudi Arabia, or the U.A.E., or Kuwait, or Qatar, or Libya, or Iran, as they were before Western economies had a need for oil and gas, and discovered it, among other places, in the Middle East and North Africa, and developed those fields, and organized the transportation by ship or pipeline of that oil and gas.
Just take Saudi Arabia. Without oil, it would look like…Somalia.
That should not surprise. Islam teaches the habit of mental submission. Do not question, for you as an individual do not count, but only as part of a collective, the Umma, and you may ask what is Prohibited, and what is Commanded, but you may never exercise your own judgment or reason, for Allah Knows Best.
And Islam also encourages, as we see in the phrases that are so common, a kind of constant reinforcing of the message of Inshallah-fatalism — that is, the notion that Allah can whimsically distribute or remove his favors from you, without so much as a by your leave. These two attitudes, inshallah-fatalism and mental submission, combined with the habit of mental submission, leads to an absence of both hard work (why bother, with that fatalism?) and entrepreneurial flair (that requires a view of the individual’s significance, and the value of what is new — compare the Muslim ban of “bida”).
There is no Muslim state or society, no polity or people, who have developed on their own, without relying — as was done for many centuries — on the wealth to be extracted from local non-Muslims under Muslim rule, that is, by means of the Jizyah. Nowadays, Muslim states have two ways of getting wealth: from oil and gas, that is, from a mere accident of geology, or from the aid they manage to keep extracting from Infidels, though not ever from their rich fellows in the Umma. And Muslims in the welfare states of Western Europe have also managed to exploit to the hilt, and then some, the generous benefits set up by, and paid for by, Infidel taxpayers. Muslims in France, Great Britain and elsewhere have free education and health care at levels never attained in any Muslim state, and free or low-cost subsidized housing, and even family allowances. The transfer of wealth in the countries of Western Europe from Infidel taxpayers to Muslim recipients of such aid is staggering. Not as staggering, however, as the amounts spent on the transfer of wealth from Infidel oil-consuming nations to the Muslim oil-producers. Since 1973 alone, that amounts to about eleven trillion dollars.
And what have the Arabs and Muslims done with it? Some skyscrapers and thousands of private palaces. Not a single factory or farm that is competitive with anything in the outside world. And economies still completely dependent on foreign wage-slaves.
That’s the economic development made possible by Islam.