Islam and Capitalist Development: A Critique of Rodinson and Weber

  • K. S. Jomo


Maxime Rodinson’s Islam and Capitalism was first published in France in 1966 and translated into English in 1974. It seeks to examine whether or not Islamic tenets can explain why capitalism did not develop indigenously in Muslim countries but was introduced from outside. It also seeks to determine whether or not Islam is opposed to capitalist development, as is often claimed. In particular, Rodinson refutes the Weberian thesis that Islam lacks the rationalism necessary for the successful development of capitalism. He outlines the elements of economic doctrine present in the Quran and the Sunnah (Islamic tradition) and examines the relationship between doctrine and practice in both the medieval and contemporary Muslim world. He identifies certain areas of ambiguity and contradiction within the doctrine itself and reveals the divergence between doctrine and economic practice in the Islamic world. He examines Islamic ideology and questions whether it has hindered or favoured capitalist development, on the one hand, and whether it provides sufficient basis for an anti-capitalist struggle or for promoting socialism, on the other. His answer to both these questions is negative. He further argues that the economic paths followed by Muslim countries, historically and today, cannot be attributed to Islam, but rather are primarily the result of the social forces of production.


Capitalist Development Muslim Country Muslim World Political Tendency Islamic World 
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© Jomo K. S. 1992

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  • K. S. Jomo

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