Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 230–251 | Cite as

Why the Arab Spring turned Islamic: the political economy of Islam

Original Paper

Abstract

This paper argues that the fundamental reason for the ascendancy of political Islam in the wake of the Arab revolutions lies in the uncompetitive nature of the religion and its implications for political economy: the fact that Islam is one and long since unchanged, which makes the Islamists’ call very costly to resist and very attractive to follow. The argument is developed through an examination of sectarian and legal history in Islam and a comparison of the nexus between church, state and individual in Christian and Muslim religious traditions. Special attention is devoted to Islamic Law and the law schools that define it.

Keywords

Islamic law Political Islamism Political economy of religion Religious competition Sectarianism 

JEL Classification

D72 Z12 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the workshop on “Law and Institutional Economics of Revolutions” (University of Hamburg, November 7–9, 2013), at the first European conference of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture (University of Durham, September 5–6, 2014), and at the annual meeting of the European Public Choice Society (University of Groningen, April 7–10, 2015). Participants in these events provided interesting discussion. I am indebted to Mukesh Eswaran, Ronald Wintrobe, and Ekkart Zimmermann for useful comments, and to the editor and two reviewers of this journal for helpful suggestions.

References

  1. Berkey, J. P. (2003). The formation of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, N. O. (1983–1984). The apocalypse of Islam. Social Text, 8, 155–171.Google Scholar
  3. Bulliet, R. W. (1979). Conversion to Islam in the medieval period. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chehabi, H. E. (2007). How caviar turned out to be halal. Gastronomica, 7(2), 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cook, M. (2000). Commanding right and forbidding wrong in Islamic thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cook, D. (2005). Understanding Jihad. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coşgel, M., & Miceli, T. (2013). Theocracy. Working paper no. 2013-29, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.Google Scholar
  8. Coulson, N. J. (1964). A history of Islamic law. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Coulson, N. J. (1969). Conflicts and tensions in Islamic jurisprudence. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. de Montesquieu, C. (1989). In A. M. Cohler, B. C. Miller, & H. S. Stone (Eds.), The spirit of the laws [1748]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Ekelund, R. B., Jr., Hébert, R. F., Tollison, R. D., Anderson, G. M., & Davidson, A. B. (1996). Sacred trust: The medieval church as an economic firm. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Eswaran, M. (2011). Competition and performance in the marketplace for religion: A theoretical perspective. BE Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, 11(1), 1–36.Google Scholar
  13. Ferrero, M. (2002). Competition for sainthood and the millennial church. Kyklos, 55(3), 335–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ferrero, M. (2005). Radicalization as a reaction to failure: An economic model of Islamic extremism. Public Choice, 122(1–2), 199–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferrero, M. (2008). The triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire: An economic interpretation. European Journal of Political Economy, 24(1), 73–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ferrero, M. (2009). The economics of theocracy. In M. Ferrero & R. Wintrobe (Eds.), The political economy of theocracy (pp. 31–55). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferrero, M. (2011). The infallibility of the pope. Economics of Governance, 12(1), 89–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ferrero, M. (2013). The rise and demise of theocracy: Theory and some evidence. Public Choice, 156(3–4), 723–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferrero, M. (2014). Competition between exclusive religions: The Counter-Reformation as entry deterrence. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 61(3), 280–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferrero, M. (2017). Thresholds: A model of religious governance and evolution. European Journal of Political Economy. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.08.003.
  21. Finer, S. E. (1997). The history of government from the earliest times. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Fletcher, R. (1999). The barbarian conversion: From paganism to Christianity. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gerber, H. (1994). State, society, and law in Islam. Ottoman law in comparative perspective. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gerber, H. (1999). Islamic law and culture 1600–1840. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  25. Grzymala-Busse, A. (2013). Why there is (almost) no Christian Democracy in post-communist Europe. Party Politics, 19(2), 319–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hallaq, W. B. (1984). Was the gate of ijtihad closed? International Journal of Middle East Studies, 16(1), 3–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hallaq, W. B. (2005). The origins and evolution of Islamic law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hallaq, W. B. (2009). Shari’a. Theory, practice, transformations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hurvitz, N. (2000). Schools of law and historical context: Re-examining the formation of the Hanbali madhhab. Islamic Law and Society, 7(1), 37–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hurvitz, N. (2003). From scholarly circles to mass movements: The formation of legal communities in Islamic societies. American Historical Review, 108(4), 985–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kuran, T. (2004). Why the Middle East is economically underdeveloped: Historical mechanisms of institutional stagnation. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(3), 71–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kuran, T. (2010). The long divergence: How Islamic law held back the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Marshall, G. S. H. (1960). A comparison of Islam and Christianity as framework for religious life. Diogenes, 8(32), 49–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maseland, R., & van Hoorn, A. (2011). Why Muslims like democracy yet have so little of it. Public Choice, 147(3–4), 481–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Michalopoulos, S., Naghavi, A., & Prarolo, G. (2012). Trade and geography in the spread of Islam. NBER Working Paper no. 18438.Google Scholar
  36. Nakash, Y. (1994). The conversion of Iraq’s tribes to Shi’ism. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 26(3), 443–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nasr, S. H. (2004). The heart of Islam: Enduring values for humanity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Paldam, M. (2009). An essay on the Muslim gap: Religiosity and the political system. In M. Ferrero & R. Wintrobe (Eds.), The political economy of theocracy (pp. 213–242). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Potrafke, N. (2012). Islam and democracy. Public Choice, 151(1–2), 185–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rowley, C. K., & Smith, N. (2009). Islam’s democracy paradox: Muslims claim to like democracy, so why do they have so little? Public Choice, 139(3–4), 273–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rubin, J. (2011). Institutions, the rise of commerce and the persistence of laws: Interest restrictions in Islam and Christianity. Economic Journal, 121, 1310–1339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Salmon, P. (2009). Serving God in a largely theocratic society: Rivalry and cooperation between Church and King. In M. Ferrero & R. Wintrobe (Eds.), The political economy of theocracy (pp. 57–80). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schacht, J. (1964). An introduction to Islamic law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of Eastern PiedmontVercelliItaly

Personalised recommendations