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Islamic Ethics and the

Implications for Business Gillian Rice

ABSTRACT. As global business operations expand, have advocated changes over the past few decades
managers need more knowledge of foreign cultures, and there has been a reintroduction of a moral
in particular, information on the ethics of doing dimension in business.
business across borders. The purpose of this paper An important task for many managers is how
is twofold: (1) to share the Islamic perspective to integrate this moral dimension into business
on business ethics, little known in the west, which
conducted across borders. Managers need an
may stimulate further thinking and debate on the
relationships between ethics and business, and (2)
appreciation of the ethical norms of different
to provide some knowledge of Islamic philosophy groups and cultures in order to gain complete
in order to help managers do business in Muslim understanding of the cultural environment in
cultures. The case of Egypt illustrates some divergence which the firm must operate (Al-Khatib et al.,
between Islamic philosophy and practice in economic 1995). Relatively few empirical studies have
life. The paper concludes with managerial implica- addressed culturally-related ethical issues (see for
tions and suggestions for further research. example, Becker and Fritzsche, 1987; Akaah,
1990; Vitell et al., 1993; Nyaw and Ng, 1994).
KEYWORDS: business ethics, Egypt, Islamic business Based upon the results of a study that found some
ethics, Muslim culture surprising significant differences between the
values of American and Thai marketers,
Singhapakdi et al. (1995) suggest that multina-
Introduction tional corporations should train their marketing
professionals differently in different parts of the
Over the centuries, as state and church separated, world. Amine (1996) goes further and urges that
particularly in western societies, religion became the role of global managers should be one of
a private matter. The so-called “value-free “moral champions,” committed to pursuing the
society” developed and economists focused best in ethical and moral decision-making and
exclusively on the mechanics of economics. behavior. The definition of “best” is not an easy
There is a growing realization that value-free task, however, when one takes into account the
economics is a misnomer. Post-modern thinkers many different moral philosophies that exist.
In recent years there have been a number of
Gillian Rice is Associate Professor of Marketing at articles published in the Journal of Business Ethics
Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of Inter- which have discussed the positions of various
national Management. Her research includes study of faiths regarding the relevance of religious ethical
economic development, environmental concerns and
principles to business decision-making (see for
marketing practices in developing countries. She is a
founding member of the International Management example, Williams, 1993; Green, 1993; Rossauw,
Development Association. Her publications include 1994; Gould, 1995). The Pope’s Centesimus
articles in International Marketing Review, Annus argues that what is lacking in our time is
International Journal of Forecasting, Information a moral culture capable of transforming
and Management, The International Executive and economic life so that it has a context in a
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. humane community (Williams, 1993).

Journal of Business Ethics 18: 345–358, 1999.
© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

may be useful. Under a system of state mization. goods and services which fulfill a need or reduce tion of both the material and spiritual needs of a hardship and make a real difference in human all humans (Chapra. have long free-market capitalist economy uses market. According to Chapra (1992). In Islam. My purpose is twofold: (1) to share a per. This device is 1981). A Consumer advocates in the U. basis for guidelines on doing business with people Keynes’ (1972) observations on this subject in Muslim cultures. the higher still are they. conveniences concepts of human well being and good life (hayiyyat) and refinements (tahsiniyyat) would fall which stress brotherhood/sisterhood and socio. can frustrate the realization of 1993). Next is a discussion of the dif. been critical of business practices that increase determined prices as a filtering mechanism to the desire for “wants” and subsequently have distribute resources. and (2) to provide some knowledge of the marketplace. little known in the pass their potential claims on resources through west. the Islamic erally misunderstood and it is often surprising worldview implies that the market system should to some that it contains an entire socio-economic be maintained. “they fall into two classes – those needs which are absolute in the sense that we feel The Islamic ethical system them whatever the situation of our fellow human beings may be. The definition follows. which may stimulate further thinking and the “filter of Islamic values” so that many claims debate on the relationships between ethics and would be eliminated before being expressed in business. But this is Muhammad).” .” Islamic jurists’ marily materialist.” of resources with unlimited claims upon them. and from the ority. The paper is organized as ficient quantities (Siddiqi. which satisfy the desire for superi- in seventh century Arabia). For example. however. The use of the price system adverse cultural and social effects (Williams. in pursuit of profit maxi- socio-economic goals. into Keynes’ first class of needs. not so true of the absolute needs. . complemented with a device that minimizes nomics and not the other way around (Naqvi.346 Gillian Rice My focus in this paper is on the ethical control. The goals of Islam are not pri. 1992). These are any economic justice and require a balanced satisfac. alone. however. for the higher the sunnah (the recorded sayings and behavior of general level. well-being. the “moral filter. They are based on Islamic categories of necessities (daruriyyat). the allocation of resources is in the hands principles which relate to business and which are of a bureaucracy. needs of human beings may seem to be insa- tiable. . Galbraith (1958) refers to There exists in most societies a relative scarcity this second class of needs as “wants.” This means that people would spective on business ethics. This discussion forms the would not be permissible. ficient. Resources would not be allowed Islamic philosophy in order to help managers to be diverted to the production of luxuries until doing business in Muslim cultures deal with the production of necessities was ensured in suf- cultural differences. He stated that even though “the tive case. which is cumbersome and inef- contained in the religion of Islam. Egypt is used as an illustra. 1981). First is a description of the Islamic of luxurious or extravagant is related to the ethical system. Luxuries (the second class of needs). are goods and services derived A “moral filter” for their snob appeal and make no difference to a person’s well-being.S. Needs of the is a book revealed by God to Muhammad second class. and those which are relative ones Muslims derive their ethical system from the in the sense that their satisfaction lifts us above teachings of the Qur’an (which Muslims believe or makes us feel superior to others. businesses often subject the consumer . 1992). Islam is gen. but that the price mechanism be system. the ferences between philosophy and practice in idea being that large departure from the standards Islamic business ethics. unnecessary claims on resources. Thus “comforts” are included here (Chapra. average standards of consumption in a society. it is ethics that dominates eco. may indeed be insatiable.

. 1976). These guidelines derive encouraged to believe that their actualization and from the interrelated concepts of unity. value of their purchases. the inhabitants of those lands were means cooperation and equality of effort and impressed by the traders’ social and business opportunity. of course. and teaches the greatest possible individualism Only when the political will and support of the “. as well as by legislation. The adoption Islam is absolutely unambiguous in its objective of environmentally conscious behavior is occur. From an Islamic point of view. . the lifestyles of the rich in a person’s relationship with God. In this sense. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Devel. either overtly or covertly. of eradicating from society all traces of inequity. are environmental of another. A parallel exists today with Justice (adalah) respect to the “green” movement which con- tinues to spread around the globe. when Muslim merchants traveled to other. this adds a new agreed upon and some way has to be devised to dimension to the valuation of things and deeds motivate consumers and businesspeople to abide in this life (Siddiqi. seventy-five percent of its metals and beyond this exhortation and teaches that all life eighty-five percent of its wood. The cation. program of life in accord with the “laws of social change must be gradual and cannot be nature” decreed by God. this distant lands. legislation is insufficient. the north has a fifth of the and His people. he strives for . ring through example. As far as business is concerned. Islam is simply a by these values. . Change can occur by and equality (Abu-Sulayman. Historically this is how Islam rapidly that God is the sole creator of the universe and spread through a large part of the world in the the other implies that people are equal partners seventh and eighth centuries (Eaton. sex appetite and guidelines for achieving the moral filter and for envy. 1981). is how to implement that because people are accountable to God. no bearer of burdens can bear the burdens populace are strong enough. Muslims believe The question. injustice.” (Qur’an 53:38–9). encouragement and edu. 1994). inviting people to alter their ways or by setting unity is a coin with two faces: one implies an example. His universe nations must change. and the “moral filter” without coercion or despotism. Islamic Ethics 347 to advertising and sales promotion campaigns that The Islamic ethical system contains specific appeal to the consumer’s vanity. with adverse environmental as well as social Unity (tawhid) implications. Indeed. exploitation and oppression. There should be rapid depletion of non-renewable resources unity of ideas and actions in a person’s existence occur. The key to the business philosophy of Islam lies opment Report (1994). man can have nothing but what laws adequately enforced. justice social esteem are dependent on the frequency and and trusteeship which I explain below. and high pollution and in accordance with God’s will. and consciousness (Asad. . For or that each person is a brother or sister to the example. Many of these inhabitants subsequently became Muslims. In common with other revealed world’s population and four-fifths of its income religions is the moral appeal to humans to sur- and it consumes seventy percent of the world’s render themselves to the will of God. Islam goes energy. This “There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an is the relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood 2:256) is relevant here. their success in the hereafter depends on their The filter mechanism of values must be socially. in the Qur’an also condemns vicarious guilt or merit environmental context. The Qur’anic injunction between fellow humans is thus prescribed. . conduct and so became curious about their beliefs. some of the essential needs of the practical way to pattern all facets of human life poor remain unfulfilled. performance in this life on earth. 1993). . This leads in turn to a tremendous amount of wasteful production. Even in these is essentially a unity because it also provides the rich countries. A definite relationship achieved through force. . This indi- . Consumers are conducting business.

1976). he described Islam as the “middle People are viewed as trustees of the earth on way. . after rights and needs of others. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness you might purify and sanctify.348 Gillian Rice vidualistic outlook on the spiritual destiny of material prosperity is desirable. The need for balance Trusteeship (khilafah) Muhammad advised Muslims to be moderate in all their affairs. even in war and on enemy territory. one of the most impor. This is very and brotherhood demands that Muslim society relevant to ethics concerning business and the take care of the basic needs of the poor. Green (1993) refers to Psalms salvation (“. The individual profit benefit of all and not just a few and everyone motive is not the chief propelling force in Islam must acquire resources rightfully. Chapra (1992) tant implications. interest through profit and private property to There is no conflict between the moral and individual initiative. Trusteeship not the real owners of their wealth. There is a prise. on a war assignment. 1981). unscrupulousness and disregard for the social existence. to be plundered tant of which is fulfilling the needs of the poor. specially designated groups in society. however. At the same time. In “ends” of economic activity. which the secularist. economics is effectively integrated with ethics (Naqvi. efficiency and enter- socio-economic requirements of life. No inhibitions attach to notes that Islam recognizes what Marxism sought economic enterprise and people are encouraged to deny: the contribution of individual self- to avail themselves of all opportunities available. Faruqi. thereof. No one is authorized to destroy The intense commitment of Islam to justice or waste God-given resources. 1994). Usurious dealings in luxurious living and the desire to show-off is are prohibited. What is crucial is the motivation. of their wealth take alms so that 24:1. Given the right their acquisition of wealth. he exhorted him not to The Islamic institution of zakah. they are only is akin to the concept of sustainable development. 1992). . Islam teaches that all wealth condemned. people motivation. Islam condemns the evils very wide margin in a person’s personal and of greed. all economic activity assumes the should not lie or cheat. in itself. that is. This does not mean a negation sary to ensure social well-being and continued of private property but does have some impor. the circulation of wealth after they have acquired Resources must also be disposed of in such a it. 1982). any generation or The word “zakah” means purification and as any individual (UNDP. Social good should guide entre- . environment: when Abu Bakr. natural resources as a free good. paying the wealth tax. 1992).” Thus. People may be ascetics or. Although (Siddiqi. it is not a goal humanity is counterbalanced by a rigorous con. they must uphold character of worship (Siddiqi. drive. at the free will of any nation. Yet. nor reduce the momentum of circulation way as to protect everyone’s well-being (Al- (Chapra. The rich are in peacetime or on home territory.” Qur’an 9:103). The notion of such. resources are for the sometimes encourages. development of human potential. trustees. 1981). the first ruler of Individuals are obliged to earn a living and only the Islamic state after Muhammad. this-worldly perspective of capitalism remaining wealth. facilitates Thus there was no question of this being allowed the care of all members of society.” A balance in human endeavors is neces- behalf of God. the ception of society and social collaboration. sent someone when this is impossible does the state intervene. a wealth kill indiscriminately or to destroy vegetation or tax comprising compulsory charitable-giving for animal life. Indulgence promises and fulfill contracts. income redistribution is not only an trusteeship is also common to the Jewish and economic necessity but also a means to spiritual Christian faiths. They must spend it in accordance with Models of sustainable development do not regard the terms of the trust. Islam does not tolerate conspicuous should be productive and people may not stop consumption (Chapra. may enjoy fully their short-term.

taxation. resources and the claims on them in a way that and indeed. Lowrie. As emphasized unconditional value of life cannot be careless in by Cantori and Lowrie (1992). It should be emphasized that in Islam. Muslims have a profound horror coverage of specific economic variables such as of anything regarded as innovation in matters of interest. it is neces.” function. The shari’ah or employees. fair religion. rather someone with a Christian understanding of the than on the market or the state. Unless humans are motivated to price (whether that person be Muslim or non- pursue their self-interest within the constraints of Muslim) during a stipulated option to cancel economic well-being (the application of the period. covers business relationships between buyers The emphasis is therefore on the human being and sellers. to any buyer. besides profit. systems are morally ambiguous. it is unlawful to undercut another’s as the means. economic system in which they are working. In partic.” Also. then self-interest is automatically key ethical principles in Islam which relate to held within bounds and the rights of all are business practices is presented in Table I. Great importance is attached to greater emphasis on duties than on rights. including what modern Christians trading. like some other religions. see for example. For realizes both efficiency and equity. Society is the primary Judaism. goals wisdom behind this is that if duties (relating to of a business enterprise and the code of conduct justice and trusteeship. The duty life-program. Rossauw suggests that it is so all encompassing that there is less need for is not the role of the church to approve or legislation regarding issues of ethics. not the state (Cantori and related. A summary of the by everyone. the Islamic jurists the workplace about product and quality stan- and the Islamic law or “shari’ah” (literally. dards that pose a threat to the lives of consumers “road”) limit governmental power. Islamic law (shari’ah) interpret as necessary adaptations of religion to derived from the Qur’an and sunnah also changing times (Eaton. sary to focus on human beings themselves. Humans are thus the ends as well example. Chapra (1992) argues that in trustworthiness and taking care of the less order to create an equilibrium between scarce fortunate. article he/she is selling is obliged to disclose it. neither the “invisible hand” of buyer “cancel the deal and I’ll sell you one the market nor the “visible hand” of central cheaper. Because undoubtedly safeguarded. as pointed out by Rossauw (1994). 1994). 1994). whoever knows of a defect in an planning can succeed in achieving socio. Muslim or non-Muslim. The real wealth of and borrowers (for full details. Christianity and Islam are closely institution in Islam. are universal among the three religions. because Islam supplies a practical messages delivered to Moses and Jesus). the In contrast. and consumption. example. circulation of wealth. Islamic Ethics 349 preneurs in their decisions.” added to what had gone before (for example. among most moral codes. 1992). for example) are fulfilled of various business agents. many ethical principles such as honesty. 1992). he encourages ular. A seller is not permitted to tell the “moral filter”). it is important to note that the of the Muslim community is to preserve this Islamic socio-economic system includes detailed message. economic goals (Chapra. Thus. places a much of his life. The views relating to consumption. Muslims believe that the Qur’an contains a Christians to “keep a critical distance from the final and unambiguous statement of the truth. social condemn economic systems. Keller. Note that there is no difference sion with the creation of material wealth can between Muslims and non-Muslims in legal obscure the ultimate objective of enriching rulings concerning commercial dealings. Both Islamic and non-Islamic employees must be . However. business but work for the life to come as if you were activity is considered to be a socially useful going to die tomorrow. An excessive obses. For human lives. A Summary relevant saying of Muhammad is “work for your worldly life as if you were going to live forever. Muhammad was involved in trading for Islam. societies is with their people. As economic responsibility and human interaction. employers and employees and lenders rather than on state power. ownership.

training programs. it must be Excellence and quality of work. to God belongs all that is in the heavens and on There is no unlimited right to private earth . buying and selling. “The acquisition of knowledge is a duty incumbent on every technology transfer. . . . and spend of your substance in the cause of God. International business. .” (Qur’an 2:195).” Saying of Muhammad (Sallam and Hanafy.’ ” Importance of knowledge-seeking. (Qur’an 7:31). . superiority over a white person and no white person has any superiority over a dark person.” (Qur’an 3:129).” Rewards should be received only after (Qur’an 53:39). wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of It is acceptable to have wealth and to prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess . Encouragement of who are niggardly.” Saying of Muhammad (Sallam and Hanafy.” (Qur’an 4:58) relationships and the workplace. . the vainglorious (nor) those Prohibition of hoarding. . “. . Care for the environment. . executive training. make not your own hands contribute to your destruction. scientific activity. ‘O my Lord! increase me in knowledge. say. and circulation of wealth. investment in business enterprise (Qur’an 4:36–7). Equal opportunity and non-discriminatory Arab has any superiority over an Arab. . “. male and a female. .” Saying of Muhammad (Sallam and Hanafy. done perfectly well. “. . Justice “.” consume but not to waste resources. . and made you into nations and tribes. but do good . “God likes that when someone does anything. 1988).” (Qur’an 49:13). no dark person has behavior in hiring. man can have nothing but what he strives for . and Condemnation of ostentatious consumption. . . . The criterion of honor in the sight of God is righteousness and honest living. Trusteeship “God does command you to render back your trusts to those Fulfilling obligations and trust in business to whom they are due . . research (Qur’an 20:114). “. property.350 Gillian Rice TABLE I Examples of ethical principles in Islam relating to business practices Ethical principle Relevant business practice(s) Unity “No Arab has superiority over any non-Arab and no non. . God loves not the arrogant. Muslim. that you may know each other . .” spending. enjoin niggardliness on others . . expending efforts. and development. . 1988). . male and female. . . “O mankind! We created from you from a single (pair) of a Teamwork. . . . “. 1988).

“. “. make your utterance straightforward . the honest Muslim merchant will stand side by side with the martyrs. Islamic Ethics 351 Table I (continued) Ethical principle Relevant business practice(s) Justice continued.” (Qur’an 18:46). the Arabic word used is “riba” which lexically means “increment” (Keller. so that you might purify and Income redistribution: wealth should be sanctify . . . . “. etc. “. . . . some above others: that He Income inequality is permitted. . 1992). shared with those less fortunate. . workers. even Non-discriminatory workplace practices. . . of their wealth take alms. don’t outbid one another in order to raise the price.” Saying of Muhammad (Hanafy and Sallam. . . * In the Qur’an.” (Qur’an 11:85). nor shall We (God) deprive them (of the fruit) of aught Importance of individual responsibility. them in ranks so that some may command work of others. . “. . “. Truthfulness and directness in negotiation.” (Qur’an 33:70). 1994).” special privileges for those with wealth or status. 1994). consideration in the scale of human values. . people the things that are their due . “. . . livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of professionals. . or your parents. wealth and children are allurements of the life of this Acquisition of wealth is given reduced world .” (Qur’an 52:21).” Unlawfulness of loans by which lender (Qur’an 2:275). .” Saying of Muhammad Whoever knows of a defect in something is (Keller. of their works: (yet) is each individual in pledge for his deeds. and whether Protection for “whistle-blowers. “God permits trade but forbids usurious gain*. He has raised you in ranks. . it is We (God) who portion out between them their Distinction between managers. obtains benefit. nor withhold from the Give full measure and weight. “.” (Qur’an 9:103). give just measure and weight. . obliged to disclose it. “On the day of judgment. .” Saying of Muhammad (Ali. may try you in the gifts that He has given you” (Qur’an 6:165). . . or your kin. stand out firmly for justice. . . . don’t enter into a transaction when others have already entered into that transaction and be as brothers one to another.” (Qur’an 43:32). 1988). . . .” No it be (against) rich and poor. against yourselves. Fairness in contract negotiation. But the Mercy of your Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass. as witnesses to God. . “He who cheats is not one of us. “. is acceptable. . .

There is a allows people to satisfy all their needs and to go growing awareness among them that many beyond. Had such institutions such as liberal democracy. sharpened social disparities and enlarged the class of dispossessed and disaffected. governments’ short-term (but not necessarily long-term) interests. Privatization efforts continue. Instead. the importance of consumer items and ings of Islam (Asad. to the institutions and values of the west. how. The socio-economic of entrepreneurs. Islam to their religious culture and identity. today. Egyptians are a religious people closely attached Note that Islam is not an ascetic religion. This class consists mainly the Islamic resurgence. The Islamic life and the decline of the Muslim world. In the Muslim Although it is relatively small. unjust and oppressive political and much economic and political power during the socio-economic systems have been the cause of eighties ( Jabber. 1986). Asad. rather than on indus- Muslim countries is not Islam but rather secu. it accumulated countries. political and economic fields. to implement the “moral filter” capitalism or socialism succeeded in solving the in practice requires the dedication of a large pressing problems of Egyptian society. Joy and Ross (1989) observe lifestyles alongside creativity and diversity. Simplicity in consumption can be attained in 1992. (Najjar. The objective should not be to create Islamic cultural traits are being superseded by a monotonous uniformity in Muslim society. they number of market participants. 1993). 1992). 1992). it is systems has led to the emergence of bifurcated difficult to differentiate between the impact of societies promoting schizophrenic behavior both the religious context of the behavior and the total at the individual and collective level (Naqvi. Because of a number expansion of services such as tourism and hotel of historical factors. 1988). although rather slowly because of the govern- talism and socialism (Chapra. institutions and practices (Najjar. approach. There is a different kind of liber. next section examines this issue with reference The emphasis on conspicuous consumption and to Egypt. 1993). probably would not have generated such hostility fore frequently a wide gap between the philos. alization: one in which all private and public Nevertheless. the dominant ideology in management (Tuma. Islam is ment’s philosophy of control. societal success in the third world is Neither does Islam mean an absence of economic measured and evaluated in terms of proximity liberalization. ideas and values sector economic decisions are first passed will be accepted only if they meet the real needs through the filter of moral values before they are of people more effectively than existing ones. 1986). . larism along with a mixture of feudalism. Cultural dualism Impact of economic liberalization The artificial symbiosis of Islamic ethical beliefs and “alien” socio-economic philosophies and For one dimension of life such as business. The reality of present-day Muslim life is far from The economic liberalization policy concentrated the ideal possibilities given in the religious teach. they have been seen as ophy and practice of Islamic ethics in countries the cause of rapid deterioration of the quality of with predominantly Muslim populations. on trade. new techniques. changes in lifestyles which followed Sadat’s “infitah” (open-door) economic policy and move to a free market economy in the seventies and Philosophy and practice: the example of eighties aggravated inflation and unemployment Egypt in Egypt. A “new class” has conspicuous by its absence. Undoubtedly. trial projects. There is there.352 Gillian Rice treated with the same just. capi. equitable and honest cultural system (Moore and Delener. particularly in the arisen as a result of the open-door policy. western values. made subject to the discipline of the market. professional and high salaried restructuring that Islam represents threatens the employees of the private economy.

then no-one will bear responsibility.” It is say “ma’alesh” (it doesn’t matter). And that man can have nothing but may cause tense.. Islamic Ethics 353 1981). and meaning “no” without actually saying “no. Ali (1992) discusses the Arab dual identity also all that will ever happen. As Eaton (1994) explains. The influx of multina.” This does not absolve the individual of responsibility. only Egypt. is she carry? It is important to note that Muslims not implementable because of the economic are exhorted in the Qur’an never to say that they hardship faced by the people. the As business relationships are often with friends or concept of the divine omniscience would be family. influenced by religious teachings. attributing it to two main factors: (1) ‘future’ is therefore in a certain sense. will do something the next day without also saying “insha’Allah. pessimistic and struggling indi. the deference to enable them to deal with the difficulties of life a higher authority may be understood to mean in Egyptian society. 1994) suggest that social person achieves only that for which he makes an and political instability or economic hardship effort: “. are subject to time and cannot see the future. viduals to sacrifice ethicality for basic survival With respect to “insha’Allah. They accept indecision and procrastination “insha’Allah” is also often used as a way of and their effects with apparent indifference. “if the boss wills it.’ ” In the words of the Bible. as a way of avoiding not do today what they can do tomorrow. weights and measures. In particular. in practice. Egyptians prefer to do reverse. Because they have an experience of free choice. 3:15). in hindsight. This may be viewed as “predestination in on business behavior. . Al-Khatib et al. people should make Informality in business relationships strong effort and work hard to achieve their business plans. Since humans tional corporations into the region also con. If God’s name is invoked in every situation and Al-Khatib et al. procrastination and indifference. . business with people they know and like and tion in terms of the future as humans have free who they consider as friends. business partners and to plan accordingly. If these go awry. Based on this author’s will say “bukra” (tomorrow). will not firmly answer yes or no to a request. The Qur’an states that a 1994. “That which in Arab thought and (2) the artificial division of hath been is now. Rawwas et al.. as if time had no experiences in Egyptian society. They of social and political instability in countries like make their choices and act accordingly. what role does the standard is used to handle daily decisions while individual play? What responsibility must he or the other. these relationships are characterized by empty if humans did not acknowledge that God informality which is subsequently reflected in the knows not only all that has ever happened but treatment of time. already been” (Ecclesiastes. business) decisions. tributed to cultural and social alienation.” Yet there is no concept of predestina. and . Tuma (1988) identifies to be a tension between the Qur’an’s teaching three main features of Egyptian culture which and what sometimes occurs in practice. . 1994).” If no-one will make deci- cision. already colonialism which instilled feelings of inferiority ‘past. and that “the in detail. but responsibility and blame. They are extremely will and must make their own conscious life (and hospitable and generous and exchange gifts often. the term cost.” there appears needs. the traditional extended family Muslim would consider this to be the will of structure and nepotism have a strong influence God. and that which is to be hath lands into nation-states. Individual initiative is therefore reduced. what he does (good or bad) . a Social relations. People sions. (1995) provide the following if every action depends on the will of a higher explanation for this type of behavior: one ethical authority. They will decisions are centralized. time” (Eaton. Tuma Egyptians have internalized in their behavior to (1988) suggests that. or “it was decreed for us from the beginning of Previous studies (for example. as all but will say “insha’Allah (God willing).” (Qur’an 53:39). These three features are inde. even though difficult to obtain firm commitment from the costs may be substantial. Tuma (1988) asks. . people tend to believe everything in life when the act is past can they say “it was written” is temporary and they make their way on doubt.

with in Muslim cultures: the case of Egypt plans to locate production as well as retail outlets in Egypt. health and training for young al. managers should develop must therefore emphasize these issues (Wilkinson. Many their everyday practices. Managers should not managers ignore ethical diversity.. and implement a balanced business philosophy 1996). whether these are other businesspeople. a gov. For 1996a). 1995).K. Al-Khatib et al. and look merely at the practices of the most corrupt implement the same code of ethics around the level of society (Tuma. Niclas Islamic concepts of unity (unity of faith and has a regional partner to assure regional adapta- action. Table I includes several Islamic ethical needy Egyptian families self-sufficient (Thomas. Israel. however. Some The foregoing discussion of Islamic philosophy contend that ethics cannot be taught to managers and practice in Egypt suggests a number of impli- because their values are already formed. finance and explanation of any deficiencies in products to be marketing techniques. focuses on social issues pressures (Smith and Quelch. There cations for international executives. Egyptian House is planning which integrates the profitability requirements of to sponsor Egyptian students on annual place- multinationals with the social. In the tele- ecological needs of developing countries and phone switching market.-based retail outlet agents more frequently and educating their agents “Egyptian House” is a joint venture with Egypt’s regarding new technology. and hard work and excellence or quality in services. with the ultimate aim of developing a franchise system (Thomas. On the one brand loyalty also include starting a children’s hand. (1995) state that. Such efforts have led Foundation for the Productive Families. as well as promoting social sold. 1992). the U. On the other hand. and internationally. The Egyptian culture.354 Gillian Rice quality control of goods and services (Tuma. it might be useful for a foreign executive club led by eco-friendly character “Niclas” who to understand and show appreciation for the will give talks about nature and ecology. Marketing and public relations efforts countries like Egypt. 1988. A non-profit U. unites women from Egypt. Can managers of multinationals play the role consumers or government representatives. example. 1995). In of “moral champions” as Amine (1996) suggests? each particular culture. These are are. European firms have those who live in them. especially in developing people. along with women in management. Vasquez-Parraga and Kara (1995) argue 1995). Rogers et such as family. equality of humans). ernment-funded cooperative set up to make 1988).-based cooperative. the company’s plans to promote executives doing business in Egypt. based show ethics can be influenced by organizational in the Islamic tradition. principles which counter this informality. whom an international manager seeks to do ples of the Islamic tradition. more successful business relationships . justice. to closer. there should be no discrimination “Women’s Organization Middle East Network” between human beings. that codes of ethics have not worked. Its goals include training should always be given to buyers. creates some interesting problems for foreign Nevertheless. full measure and full weight Jordan and Palestine. technology. It can be argued that Niclas is pro- The bifurcated nature of the Egyptian culture moting fashion and “luxurious” clothing items. strengthened their position in Egypt by visiting For example. whether they are family (WOMEN). business. a German clothing retailer is opening a Implications for doing business with people large number of outlets in the Middle East. 1996b). economic and ments to learn marketing techniques. this understanding should About sixty percent of multinationals have codes extend to people’s aspirational ethics as well as to of ethics in place (The Economist. For example. members or not. Niclas. managers must There is undoubtedly a need for genuine consider the difficult realities of everyday living understanding of the ethics of foreigners with which lead people to forgo the ethical princi. trusteeship and tion of business approaches (Thomas. world. Products are to be marketed regionally work is urged. however.S. numerous documented cases that detailed in Table II.

champions.” E. often slowly. Need for local agent/ partner. Also. responsibility. procrastination. Islamic Ethics 355 TABLE II Illustrations of the business implications of Islamic philosophy and practice in Egypt Islamic philosophy Egyptian practice Implications for the foreign executive Unity Non-discrimination in the Nepotism. visits to foreign given the country’s level of company’s home facilities much economic development. full information to the weights and measures. education. economic problems. Informality in treatment of time. however.g. Justice Precision in business dealings. business extremely patient and cautious. . possibilities for cause-related marketing in Egypt. Hiring of family members/friends by Egyptian partner may result in less than qualified individuals for certain positions. others do Egyptian partner. Foreign executives need to be honesty. wherever possible. Foreign executives receipt of interest. Opportunity for innovative financing methods. 1996a). will likely increase the Efforts to gain benefits from the commitment of the Egyptian state. Lack of trust.g.” Indecision. there are also efforts on House in UK. Importance of knowledge-seeking Egyptians place great emphasis on Provide training as part of contracts. but should follow desires of Egyptian partner. Showing strong commitment. appreciated. partner. Use of wealth for social causes. would be wise to avoid expressing opinions. Prohibition of usurious Some Egyptian businesspeople Need to find out the views of the transactions e. importance of social Trust and friendship must be workplace relationships in business developed. Trusteeship Care of the environment Egyptians have neglected this. Individual on a “handshake. technology transfer. Changes are using the Islamic perspective on the occurring. a joint venture with the part of some Islamists to Egypt’s Foundation for the develop social welfare programs. Islamic financing institutions and instruments growing worldwide with many major western banks involved. but also Marketing appeals could be made because of attitude. not. from liberalization tends to engage opportunity to be “moral in conspicuous consumption. Environmental laws environment. in Business opportunities in part because of more pressing environmental technology field. The “new” class which benefited International managers have the to aid less fortunate people. before business is possible. buyer. Productive Families (Thomas. success of Egyptian Yet. being implemented. payment and observe this ruling. etc.

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