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Nancy D. Egalitarian Face of Islam - Socioloigcal Survey of 7 Countires and Moral Communitarian Theory vs. Modernist Theory

Nancy D. Egalitarian Face of Islam - Socioloigcal Survey of 7 Countires and Moral Communitarian Theory vs. Modernist Theory

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The Egalitarian Face of Islamic Orthodoxy: Support for Islamic Law and Economic Justice inSeven Muslim-Majority NationsAuthor(s): Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. RobinsonSource:
American Sociological Review,
Vol. 71, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 167-190Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 16/12/2010 02:13
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The EgalitarianFaceof IslamicOrthodoxy:SupportorIslamic Lawand EconomicJusticein SevenMuslim-Majorityations
NancyJ.DavisDePauwUniversityRobertVRobinsonIndianaUniversity
Theauthorstesttwotheorieslinking religionandeconomicbeliefsinpredominantlyMuslim nationsusingdatafromnationalsurveysofAlgeria, Bangladesh,Egypt,Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan,andSaudiArabia.MoralCosmologytheoryposits thatbecausethereligiouslyorthodoxaretheologicallycommunitarian inviewingindividualsassubsumedbyalargercommunityofbelievers subject totimeless lawsandGod'sgreaterplan,theyaredisposedtowardeconomiccommunitarianism,wherebythe stateshouldprovideforthepoor,reduceinequality,and meetcommunityneedsviaeconomicintervention.Modernistsaretheologicallyindividualisticinseeingindividualsashavingtomakemoral decisionsinatemporalcontextandasresponsible fortheirowndestinies.Assuch, modernistsareinclinedto economicindividualism,wherebythepoorareresponsible for theirates,widerincome differencespromoteindividual initiative, andgovernmentshouldnotinterfereintheeconomy. Analternatehypothesis,basedonIslamicscripture'sdiscussionofeconomicmatters,limitstheeffectoforthodoxyversusmodernismtothe one cleareconomicdirectiveofIslam:the state'sresponsibilityto carefor thepoor.TheauthorsfindthatIslamicorthodoxy-measuredasthedesiretoimplementIslamiclaw(theshari'a)-isassociatedwiththebroadeconomiccommunitarianismexpected byMoralCosmologytheory.
TherolethatIslamplaysintheeconomiccircumstancesnddevelopmentof Muslimnationshasbeenthesubjectof intensedebateamongMuslims andnon-Muslimsalike.WesternriticsofIslamor"Islamicivilization,"such asBernardLewis(1990)andSamuelHuntington1993),havedecrieditseconomicirrationality,ncompatibilitywithdemocracy,andfailuretoseparate eligion andstate;whilescholarssuchasEdwardSaid(2001:11)havedenouncedsuchthinkingasOrientalistessen-tialismthatgnores"thenternaldynamicsandDirectcorrespondenceoRobertVRobinson,DepartmentofSociology,IndianaUniversity,BallantineHall744,1020 EastKirkwoodvenue,Bloomington, N47405(robinsor@indiana.edu).Theauthorsreistedalphabetically.nearlierer-sionofthispaperwaspresentedt theAmericanSociologicalAssociationmeetings,SanFrancisco,2004.Theauthorshankheirespectiveniversitiesforinancialupporturingheir003/04abbaticalplurality"fMuslim nations.Thedebatesnotjustacademic.Today,hereareover1.3 billionMuslimsintheworldandmorethan50pre-dominantlyMuslimnations.Someofthegov-ernmentsof thesenationsaremeetingtheircitizens'economicneeds,whilemanyothersareunableorunwillingtoaddress them.TheUnitedNations (2001)rankscountriesonaHuman DevelopmentIndex(HDI),basedontheirifeexpectancy,iteracy ate,schoolenroll-ments,andper capitagrossdomestic product(GDP). FiveMuslim-majorityationsareratedinParisand Sydney,aswellascolleaguesntheDepartmentf SociologyandSocialPolicyattheUniversityfSydneynd heSchoolfSociologyndAnthropologyttheUniversityfNewSouthWales.TheauthorslsothankMansoorMoaddel,MichaelHumphrey,effKenney,rianPowell,BrianStarks,RobertVanKrieken,MelissaWilde,andtheASReditorandanonymouseviewersortheirhelpfulcomments.
AMERICANOCIOLOGICALEVIEW, 006,VOL.71(April:I67-19o)
 
i68AMERICANSOCIOLOGICALEVIEW
as having"high" humandevelopment, 27as"medium,"and21as"low."Evenin Muslimnationswithmediumstandardsfliving,manycitizensliveinpoverty:one-fifthtoone-quar-terofthepopulationsofAlgeria,Indonesia,and Egyptarepoor,as definedbylocalstan-dards.Inthe poorestMuslimnations,thebulkofthepopulationuffersfromeconomicdepri-vation,thegapbetweenrichandpooris wide,unemploymentndunderemploymentrehigh,educationalopportunitiesarelimited,andlifeexpectancies arelow(UnitedNations 2001;Banuri1994:36).Whattodoabout thedepressedeconomicconditionsinwhichmanyMuslimsliveisthesubjectofmuchprivateconcern,publicdis-cussion,andmovementactivismthroughoutthe Muslimworld.Sincethemid-nineteenthcentury,thedebateandmobilizationoneco-nomicissues oftencenteredonwhethersocial-ismornationalismwasthesolution.slamistorIslamicundamentalist)movementseekingtheimplementationfIslamic law(the shari'a)inanIslamicstate asthesolution to economicproblemsbegantoforminthelate1920s,butpublicinterestn suchmovementsdidnottakeoffuntilmostsecular,putativelyocialist,and/ornationalistregimesfailedtosolvetheseprob-lems duringhe1960s, 1970s,and1980s.Today,Islamistsvie withIslamic modernists (orreformists),whoseethebesthopeforeconomicprogressnkeepingIslamout oflegalcodes andmaintainingstrictseparationofmosqueandstate(Kepel1994:13-23).Inthis article,we move awayfromthepub-lic discourseand skirmishesofmovementead-ers,academics,andmediapunditstoexplorehowmoralcosmology-Islamicorthodoxyver-susmodernism-affectstheeconomicbeliefs ofordinaryMuslims.Mostscholarlyaccounts ofreligionandpoliticsinpredominantlyMuslimcountrieshavebeenhistoricalorobservational,relyingoncarefulanalysesofthespeechesandwritingsofleadersofIslamistandmodernistmovements, of archivalmaterialsonthefor-mation,politicalactivities,andplatformsofmovementorganizations,nd,nmanycases,ontheauthor'sdirectexperiencewiththe Muslimworld.Whilemuch hasbeenlearnedfromthiswork,it isoftennotbasedonanalysesofinter-views withrepresentativeamplesofMuslims,andwethereforeknowrelativelylittleabouthowordinaryMuslimcitizensmakelinkages
betweenheiraithandeconomicpreferences(but ee,e.g.,Hassan002; nglehartndNorris2003;Moaddel004,forthcoming).Throughouthe world,eligiousraditional-istsarecommonlyharacterizedsbeing othepoliticalrightofmodernists.et,despiteheconventionalisdom,uresearchntheUnitedStates,21Europeanountries,ndIsraelhasuncovered surprising elationship:nmanycountries whereCatholicism,EasternOrthodoxy,udaism,rProtestantismredom-inate,hereligiously rthodoxreto therightof modernistsnculturalssuesofabortion,sexuality,amily,ndgender,uttotheleftofmodernistsnssuesofeconomicusticeDavisandRobinson 1996a,1997,1999a,1999b,2001).Inthis article,we examinewhetherhelessrecognized lementof thispattern-thetendencyorhereligiouslyrthodoxobemoreeconomicallyrogressivehanmodernists-holdsin countrieswhere Islam,anotherAbrahamicaithradition,redominates.WeanalyzeewlyavailableationalurveysofsevenMuslim-majorityations(Algeria,Bangladesh,gypt,ndonesia,ordan, akistan,andSaudiArabia)otesttwo alternatergu-ments oexplainhoworthodoxyersusmod-ernismffectsttitudesowardconomicusticeamongMuslims.OurownMoralCosmologytheory (DavisandRobinson1999b,2001,2005),which,weargue,appliesoallof theAbrahamicaithraditions,egardlessftheirspecific heologicalenets,positshatbecausethereligiouslyrthodoxreheologicallyom-munitariannseeing ndividualsssubsumedyalargerommunityfbelieversndassubjecttothetimelessawsandgreaterlanofGod,theyaredisposed owardconomicommuni-tarianism,herebytisthesociety'sesponsi-bilitytoprovide forthose inneed,reduceinequality,ndintervenentheeconomyomeet community eeds.Modernists,ecausetheyare heologicallyndividualisticn thatheyseeindividualshemselvessresponsibleortheirdestiniesandashavingomakemoraldecisionsnthecontextftheimes,renclinedtoward aissez-faireconomicndividualism,whichseesthepooras responsibleortheirfates, upportsiderncomedifferenceso pro-motendividualnitiative,ndwantsovernmenttokeepoutoftheeconomy.Wetestthistheo-ry,whichdoesnotdepend nthespecificcon-tentoffaithtraditions,againstalogical

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