Arab-Islamic economics

Authored by: S.M. Ghazanfar

Routledge Handbook of the History of Global Economic Thought

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415508490
eBook ISBN: 9781315761084
Adobe ISBN: 9781317644125


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The primary purpose of this chapter is to provide a survey of economic thought originating with some Arab-Islamic scholars whose writings extend over several (medieval) centuries. The term “Arab-Islamic” is to be broadly interpreted. Several Islamic scholars had their origins in Persia (part of the Seljuk Dynasty, 1038–1194), others in Abbasid Baghdad, and yet others in the Mediterranean Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). The word “Arab” may be viewed not so much as relating to a scholar’s geographical origins, conceived in terms of the nation-states that now exist in the contemporary Middle East, but more to the fact that Arabic was the main language of their scholarship. Aside from being the language of the Holy Qur’an, Arabic was the lingua franca of the era, “the main vehicle of culture” (Sarton, II, 109). Even several Jewish scholars wrote their major works in Arabic (e.g. Moses Maimonides, 1135–1204; Ibn Gabirol, 1021–58).

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