Islam, Capitalism and Underdevelopment: Timur Kuran and Murat Cizakca on the Great Divergence
The debate over the causes of the Muslim world lagging behind the ascent of Western Europe and failing to evolve adequate institutional and financial tools to counter the challenges of Modernity is of keen interest to economic historians. Works addressing this complex issue by two leading Turkish scholars, Professors Timur Kuran and Murat Cizakca, provide a focus for discussion of this debate and are here summarized and the authors’ divergent theses contrasted. At the heart of the debate is the question whether Islamic religious and legal structures inadvertently or directly hindered Muslim societies in the Middle East over the past several centuries from modernising their economic and financial systems. Furthermore, is there a viable alternative form of capitalism found in Islam? Several critical responses or contrasting views (M. Shahid Ebrahim, et al., 2012) are briefly presented, along with the implications for Islamic economics.