The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur KuranThe Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur Kuran

The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

byTimur Kuran

Paperback | November 11, 2012

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In the year 1000, the economy of the Middle East was at least as advanced as that of Europe. But by 1800, the region had fallen dramatically behind--in living standards, technology, and economic institutions. In short, the Middle East had failed to modernize economically as the West surged ahead. What caused this long divergence? And why does the Middle East remain drastically underdeveloped compared to the West? In The Long Divergence, one of the world's leading experts on Islamic economic institutions and the economy of the Middle East provides a new answer to these long-debated questions.


Timur Kuran argues that what slowed the economic development of the Middle East was not colonialism or geography, still less Muslim attitudes or some incompatibility between Islam and capitalism. Rather, starting around the tenth century, Islamic legal institutions, which had benefitted the Middle Eastern economy in the early centuries of Islam, began to act as a drag on development by slowing or blocking the emergence of central features of modern economic life--including private capital accumulation, corporations, large-scale production, and impersonal exchange. By the nineteenth century, modern economic institutions began to be transplanted to the Middle East, but its economy has not caught up. And there is no quick fix today. Low trust, rampant corruption, and weak civil societies--all characteristic of the region's economies today and all legacies of its economic history--will take generations to overcome.



The Long Divergence opens up a frank and honest debate on a crucial issue that even some of the most ardent secularists in the Muslim world have hesitated to discuss.

Timur Kuran is professor of economics and political science and the Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism (Princeton).
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Title:The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle EastFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pagesPublished:November 11, 2012Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691156417

ISBN - 13:9780691156415

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Table of Contents

Preface ix





PART I Introduction

Chapter 1: The Puzzle of the Middle East's

Economic Underdevelopment 3

Chapter 2: Analyzing the Economic Role of Islam 25





PART II Organizational Stagnation

Chapter 3: Commercial Life under Islamic Rule 45

Chapter 4: The Persistent Simplicity of Islamic Partnerships 63

Chapter 5: Drawbacks of the Islamic Inheritance System 78

Chapter 6: The Absence of the Corporation in Islamic Law 97

Chapter 7: Barriers to the Emergence of a Middle Eastern Business Corporation 117

Chapter 8: Credit Markets without Banks 143





PART III The Makings of Underdevelopment

Chapter 9: The Islamization of Non-Muslim Economic Life 169

Chapter 10: The Ascent of the Middle East's Religious Minorities 189

Chapter 11: Origins and Fiscal Impact of the Capitulations 209

Chapter 12: Foreign Privileges as Facilitators of Impersonal Exchange 228

Chapter 13: The Absence of Middle Eastern Consuls 254

PART IV Conclusions

Chapter 14: Did Islam Inhibit Economic Development? 279





Notes 303

References 349

Index 393


Editorial Reviews

"Kuran's book is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the Middle East and the Islamic world. The path toward economic and legal reforms for the Islamic world can only be charted by understanding the historical impediments to economic development in the region. There is currently no better starting point to contemplate such reforms and development efforts than this book."-Mahmoud El-Gamal, author of Islamic Finance: Law, Economics, and Practice