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

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9780691147567: The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

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.

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From the Inside Flap:


"Sophisticated, purposive, and insightful, this book brings the powerful thinking of an economist to bear on a central question of Middle Eastern history. The argument is lucid and compelling; anyone with a serious interest in the way the world has changed in recent centuries will find this book rewarding."--Michael Cook, author of A Brief History of the Human Race


"The Long Divergence is a turning point in the understanding of Middle Eastern economic history and a must-read for everyone interested in economic development in the Islamic world more generally."--Avner Greif, Stanford University


"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 ofIslamic Finance: Law, Economics, and Practice


About the Author:

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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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9780691147567

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Timur Kuran
Published by Princeton University Press, United States (2010)
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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9780691147567

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