The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Political Economy Legacy of Institutions from the Classical Period of Islam

  • Lisa Blaydes
  • Eric Chaney
Reference work entry


This article describes the core political and economic institutions of Muslim societies during Islam’s ‘classical’ period. We argue that the reliance of Muslim leaders on slave armies discouraged the development of a hereditary baronage in Muslim societies and contributed to the underdevelopment of private ownership of land. Societal resistance to sultanistic governance emanated not from land-owning elites but rather from religious leaders who came to enjoy high levels of moral authority through their role as mediators between state and society. Authoritarian governance, a weak tradition of private property rights and empowerment of religious elites in the realms of law and education had important implications for the economic development of Muslim societies.


Economic development Institutions Political economy Political power 

JEL Classifications

N45 O10 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Blaydes
    • 1
  • Eric Chaney
    • 1
  1. 1.