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
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_3028

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Economic development Institutions Political economy Political power 

JEL Classifications

N45 O10 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

  1. Acemoglu, D., and J.A. Robinson. 2000. Political losers as a barrier to economic development. American Economic Review 90(2): 126–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Ghazali, A.H. 1111 [1971]. al-Munqidh min al-Dalal. Lahore: Hayat al-Awqaf.Google Scholar
  3. Blaydes, L., and E. Chaney. 2013. The feudal revolution and Europe’s rise: Political divergence of the Christian West and the Muslim world before 1500 CE. American Political Science Review 107(1): 16–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blaydes, L., and J. Lo. 2012. One man, one vote, one time? A model of democratization in the Middle East. Journal of Theoretical Politics 24(1): 110–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blaydes, L., J. Grimmer, and A. McQueen. 2016. Mirrors for Princes and Sultans: Advice on the art of governance in the Medieval Christian and Islamic worlds. Working paper.Google Scholar
  6. Chamberlain, M. 1994. Knowledge and social practice in Medieval Damascus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chaney, E. 2012. Democratic change in the Arab world, past and present. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 42(1): 363–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaney, E. 2013. Revolt on the Nile: Economics shocks, religion and political power. Econometrica 81(5): 2033–2053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaney, E. 2015a. Religion and the rise and fall of Islamic Science. Working paper.Google Scholar
  10. Chaney, E. 2015b. Measuring the military decline of the Western Islamic world: evidence from Barbary ransoms. Explorations in Economic History 58: 107–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hodgson, M. 1974. The venture of Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kuran, T. 2001. The provision of public goods under Islamic law: Origins, impact, and limitations of the waqf system. Law & Society Review 35(4): 841–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 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
  14. Kuran, T. 2011. The long divergence: How Islamic law held back the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Lapidus, I.M. 2014. A history of Islamic societies. 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Malik, A. 2012. Was the Middle East’s economic descent a legal or political failure? Debating the Islamic law matters thesis. Working paper, Center for the Study of African Economies.Google Scholar
  17. Olson, M. 1993. Dictatorship, democracy, and development. American Political Science Review 87(3): 567–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sabra, A.I. 1987. The appropriation and subsequent naturalization of Greek science in medieval Islam: a preliminary statement. History of Science 25: 223–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. von Grunebaum, G.E. 2008 [1970]. Classical Islam: A history, 600 AD to 1258 AD. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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