The Egalitarian Face of Islamic Orthodoxy: Support for Islamic Law and Economic Justice in Seven Muslim-Majority Nations
Davis NJ, and Robinson R. 2006. “The Egalitarian Face of Islamic Orthodoxy: Support for Islamic Law and Economic Justice in Seven Muslim-Majority Nations.” American Sociological Review 71(2): 167-90.
The authors test two theories linking religion and economic beliefs in predominantly Muslim nations using data from national surveys of Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Moral Cosmology theory posits that because the religiously orthodox are theologically communitarian in viewing individuals as subsumed by a larger community of believers subject to timeless laws and God’s greater plan, they are disposed toward economic communitarianism, whereby the state should provide for the poor, reduce inequality, and meet community needs via economic intervention. Modernists are theologically individualistic in seeing individuals as having to make moral decisions in a temporal context and as responsible for their own destinies. As such, modernists are inclined to economic individualism, whereby the poor are responsible for their fates, wider income differences promote individual initiative, and government should not interfere in the economy. An alternate hypothesis, based on Islamic scripture s discussion of economic matters, limits the effect of orthodoxy versus modernism to the one clear economic directive of Islam: the state’s responsibility to care for the poor. The authors find that Islamic orthodoxy-measured as the desire to implement Islamic law (the shari’a)-is associated with the broad economic communitarianism expected by Moral Cosmology theory.