Moral Value and Commercial Gain
Three Classical Islamic Approaches
This paper presents three theoretical accounts developed to assess the moral value and legal status of acts designed to promote commercial gain in the thought of major classical Muslim scholars. There has been an increased interest in Islamic commercial law and ethics in recent years. Much of the recent scholarship consists of practically inclined studies that tend to lump the Islamic tradition of evaluation of commerce under the principles of social justice and avoidance of harm. Our study of three selected scholars will reveal distinct approaches that are characteristic of classical Islamic ethical discussions: anchoring moral value in this world, attributing moral goodness to salvation in the next world, and finding a balance between these two approaches. Counterintuitively, we will see that the naturalistic view that ascribes moral values to things and actions was the most restrictive, whereas the dualistic model that focuses on salvation in the next world was markedly more permissive of commercial transactions.
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