Posts Tagged ‘economic development’

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Islamic law creates economic toilet bowl

November 9, 2011

Michael Schuman at Time magazine has written a good article openly supporting the theory that the Islamic world suffers economically because of Islamic law itself.  Normally, the mainstream media subject readers to arguments about the legacy of colonial “exploitation” or some other nonsense to explain Muslim poverty, so this honest acknowledgement of the obstacles to economic growth that Islam creates is quite refreshing.

Islam’s prohibition of riba (interest), while not specifically cited in the article, is certainly one of the major factors which retarded the development of modern financial systems in the Islamic world.

The economic condition of Islamic nations is quite depressing.  One recent article revealed that inequality is rampant across Islamic countries, and that 230 million people in Islamic countries suffer from hunger.  Amazingly, while millions of Muslims live in misery created largely by Islam, Iranians and Muslim allies of the Occupy Wall Street protestors have the nerve to criticize American capitalism and its effects on the world.

From Time’s Curious Capitalist blog on Oct. 18:

Is Islamic law to blame for the Middle East’s economic failures?

One of the great mysteries of economic history concerns how the Islamic world lost its mojo. A thousand years ago, the Middle East was richer and more influential in the global economy than Europe. According to data compiled by the late economist and statistical wizard Angus Maddison, the Middle East accounted for about 9.5% of global GDP in the year 1000 while Western Europe’s share was less than 9%. By 1700, however, the situation had totally reversed, with Western Europe commanding a hefty 22% of global GDP and the Middle East a pathetic 3%. The Arab world had controlled many of the lucrative trade routes between Asia and the West, but that role got usurped first by the Portuguese, then by the British and Dutch. What went wrong?

Economists and historians have struggled over that question for centuries. The answer is not just of academic interest. The revolutions that have swept through the Middle East, toppling dictators in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, got a good part of their momentum from the widespread public frustration over the persistent lack of economic progress and opportunity omnipresent in the Middle East. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the new governments that have emerged from the Arab Spring is providing the jobs and higher incomes all of those young people who participated in the rebellions desperately expect. If the new political leaders fail to deliver, the Arab Spring, which has brought such hope to the region, could deteriorate into a cycle of protest and political upheaval that will only set back its economic development.

There have been many theories of how the Middle East lost out economically to the West. But they have generally felt unsatisfactory. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Poverty up after decades of Pakistani zakat

April 14, 2011

With apologies to Dr. Powell, left-wing journalists, Ernst & Young, Muslim apologists, and the rest of the motley crew that thinks zakat is the recipe for economic and social development around the globe, the people on the frontline of the zakat welfare system in Pakistan are reporting that zakat there has bred a culture of institutionalized and growing dependence.  The poor have not been rehabilitated by the system.

Leaving aside the horrid nexus between zakat and terrorism, the fecklessness of zakat as a model for social justice is striking, as we have pointed out here, here, and here.  Now read the same critique from a Pakistani mouth in the Nation on Apr. 12:

Although the Zakat system had been introduced some three decades ago and tens of billions have been distributed to deserving people since then, no government, federal or provincial, has taken any step for their permanent rehabilitation or bringing an end to their dependence.

The amount of money given to a person or a family is so small that the recipient cannot even think of setting up any small business or shop to become self-reliant. The students who are given assistance to enable them to complete their studies also find the amount inadequate. Poor patients are also helped in treatment through Zakat funds, but such people have to go from pillar to post before qualifying for the assistance.

The number of Zakat dependents is not coming down either, which is against the very spirit of the system. In fact, the billions claimed to have been spent through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) have also failed to bring about any positive change in the situation.

The rising number of beggars shows that the Zakat system, for whatever reasons, has not brought about the blessings it should have.

Since the number of those going below the poverty line is going up by the day, there is little hope for the number of Zakat recipients going down in the foreseeable future.

Also, not a single person informed the government during the past three decades that he doesn’t need Zakat any more as he or his children have started earning enough to make both ends meet.

The system has been politicized to a large extent as the committees and their heads who distribute Zakat are nominees of the government. And it is an open secret that no one is given this position unless he has strong connections with the ruling party.

Decades gone and ‘everybody’ needs Zakat.