Islam and mammon: The economic predicaments of Islamism. Timur Kuran, 2004\, princeton, NJ: Princeton university press, 194 pages, index, $28.00 [Book Review]
Although Bernard Lewis is a deeper scholar of Islamic history, and the late Charles Issawi was a greater scholar of the economic history of Muslim societies, Timur Kuran has emerged in the last decade and a half as the leading scholar in the world of the rising field of Islamic economics. While most who study this field are advocates of Islamic economics as a superior system for Muslim societies, and possibly for all societies, Kuran has been a consistent critic. This volume gathers six of his papers published on the subject between 1989 and 1997 together, along with an updating preface. Although they have been edited to some degree, Kuran himself argues in his preface that, “Looking back at the essays grouped in this book, I am struck by how well they have stood the test of time.” By and large this is a correct assessment, and his critical stance now is heightened in the wake of the events of 9/11/01 and its aftermath. The clear theme unifying these essays is that Islamic economics as such is not a genuine answer to the world’s economic problems, but an “invented tradition” that serves as an adjunct to the broader, anti-Western, Islamist political-religious movement
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