Chapter

Religious Issues and Challenges: Defining Islam and Interpreting the Shariah

Ibrahim Warde

in Islamic Finance in the Global Economy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780748612161
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653072 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748612161.003.0013
Religious Issues and Challenges: Defining Islam and Interpreting the Shariah

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The battle to define the parameters of Islamic finance and the struggle over the authoritative interpretation of Islam is not exclusively about religion. Indeed, one of the themes developed in this book is the close association of religion in other factors such as economic, historical, political, cultural and ideological. However, since political and economic struggles are fought on religious terrain and expressed in religious terms, it is necessary to isolate, if possible, all the religious issues. This chapter provides a framework for comprehending the religious challenges faced by Islamic banks. It aims to answer three questions: 1) what are the mechanisms by which financial institutions interpret religion?; 2) what are the bases of the various possible interpretations?; and 3) what interpretations are likely to prevail? The chapter begins with a discussion of the Shariah Boards and other mechanisms designed to interpret religion for banking purposes, and then considers contending views on religious interpretation, before adopting a comparative perspective designed to map the likely direction of change in religious interpretations. It ends by discussing the current debates among Islamic finance scholars.

Keywords: Islamic finance; interpretation of Islam; religion; religious challenges; Shariah Boards; religious interpretation; Islamic finance scholars

Chapter.  6610 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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