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12.10.10

Riba and Recognition: Religion, Finance and Multiculturalism

Riba and Recognition: Religion, Finance and Multiculturalism
Ibrahim Abraham
Monash University

Abstract: "This article utilises the contemporary political theory of Nancy Fraser to explore the seemingly disparate issues of religious diversity and financial regulation in multicultural late capitalism, focusing on Islamic finance. In recent decades, Islamic finance has expanded into an almost trillion dollar global industry based around the rejection of riba, an Arabic word meaning usury. Whilst the growth of Islamic finance has been staggering, there has been little political or sociological analysis undertaken. This paper argues that Islamic finance challenges not only conventional financial wisdom and regulations, but raises numerous issues about religious identity and relationship between religion, politics and the economy. Analysing the development, principles and practices of Islamic finance, this paper argues that the seemingly staid field of financial regulation is actually a field wherein the politics of religious identity is very strong and wherein complex issues of cultural recognition, economic redistribution and political representation have emerged."
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