Islamic Economics in Today’s World: A Comprehensive Overview

  • 9 min read
  • Apr 25, 2023
Islamic economics

Islamic economics is a branch of economics that is based on the principles and teachings of Islam. It aims to promote human welfare by allocating and distributing limited resources in accordance with Islamic laws. 

The primary difference between Islamic economics and conventional economics is the prohibition of interest (usury) in Islamic finance. Instead, Islamic economics adopts a profit-loss sharing (PLS) system and has specific monetary standards and instruments that are free from interest-based variables. 

Research in Islamic economics covers various sectors, including banking, finance, and other industries such as tourism, fashion, and hospitality. The development of mathematical models in Islamic economics and finance has been increasing, with a focus on modeling profit-loss sharing schemes and Islamic bank financing.

Differences between Islamic Economics and Conventional Economics

Islamic economics differs from conventional economics in several ways:

Prohibition of interest

Islamic economics bans interest-based transactions, considering them unjust and exploitative, while conventional economics allows for interest-based transactions.

Profit-loss sharing system

Islamic economics adopts a profit-loss sharing system, where partners share profits and losses fairly and transparently, whereas conventional economics relies on fixed interest rates.

The Profit-Loss Sharing (PLS) system is a fundamental principle in Islamic economics, rooted in the concept of social justice and risk sharing. Unlike conventional economics, which predominantly uses fixed interest rates to determine returns on investments, the PLS system emphasizes equitable distribution of wealth and risk among the parties involved. In this system, both parties (investors and entrepreneurs) agree to share profits and losses according to a predetermined ratio, ensuring that all participants are fairly and transparently rewarded for their contributions.

Key features of the Profit-Loss Sharing system include

Risk sharing

PLS promotes risk sharing between investors and entrepreneurs, thereby fostering a sense of mutual responsibility and cooperation. This can lead to more sustainable and stable economic growth, as stakeholders are more likely to make prudent and well-considered decisions when their interests are directly aligned.

Ethical investments

Islamic economics emphasizes ethical investments, meaning that PLS arrangements should only support businesses that comply with Shariah principles. This includes avoiding industries that are deemed harmful or immoral, such as alcohol, gambling, and weapons production, as well as activities that involve usury (riba) or excessive speculation (gharar).

Prohibition of fixed interest rates

Under the PLS system, predetermined fixed interest rates (riba) are prohibited. Instead, returns on investments are determined by the performance of the underlying asset or business. This is believed to encourage more prudent lending and investment practices, as lenders will carefully assess the risks and prospects of the ventures they support.


PLS fosters a sense of partnership between the parties involved, encouraging collaboration, transparency, and open communication. This can lead to better decision-making and the development of long-term relationships between investors and entrepreneurs.

Social justice

By sharing profits and losses fairly, the PLS system seeks to create a more equitable distribution of wealth within society. This can help to reduce income inequality and promote economic stability and social cohesion.

Conventional economics, on the other hand, relies heavily on fixed interest rates, where returns on investments are predetermined and do not take into account the performance of the underlying asset or business. This can lead to misaligned incentives and contribute to economic instability, as borrowers may take on excessive risk or engage in speculative activities in pursuit of higher returns.

Monetary policy

Islamic economics has specific monetary standards and instruments that are free from interest or riba-based variables, such as musharakah certificates, while conventional economics uses interest-based monetary instruments like open market operations and discount rates.

Monetary policy in Islamic economics differs significantly from conventional economics due to its prohibition of interest (riba) and focus on risk-sharing, asset-backed transactions, and ethical considerations. As a result, the monetary standards and instruments used in Islamic economics are designed to adhere to these principles.

Musharakah Certificates

One key instrument in Islamic monetary policy is the use of musharakah certificates. These certificates are based on the concept of profit-sharing (musharakah) between partners, where investors pool their capital to jointly finance a project or investment. Profits and losses are shared among the investors in proportion to their capital contribution, ensuring that risks and rewards are distributed fairly.


Another popular financial instrument in Islamic finance is sukuk, or Islamic bonds. Unlike conventional bonds that pay fixed interest, sukuk are asset-backed securities, where returns are derived from the performance of the underlying assets. This structure ensures that sukuk holders have a direct interest in the assets and share in the profits and losses.

Murabaha Contracts

In the absence of interest-based lending, Islamic monetary policy often relies on murabaha contracts, which involve cost-plus financing. Under this arrangement, a bank or financial institution purchases an asset on behalf of a client and then sells it to the client at a predetermined profit margin. The client repays the bank in installments, allowing for financing without interest.

Central Bank Role

In an Islamic monetary system, the central bank is responsible for ensuring that money supply and credit growth are in line with the real economic needs of the society. This is achieved through the use of instruments that promote equitable distribution of wealth and resources. For example, central banks in Islamic economies can use reserve requirements, which mandate banks to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits as reserves, to influence the availability of credit in the market.

Commodity-based Currency 

Islamic monetary policy also encourages the use of commodity-based currencies to ensure a stable and reliable store of value. Gold and silver, for example, are considered ideal for this purpose due to their intrinsic value and relative stability.

Ethical Considerations

Islamic monetary policy places a strong emphasis on ethical and social considerations, seeking to promote social welfare and prevent excessive speculation and market manipulation. This includes regulations on transparency, disclosure, and governance in financial markets.

In contrast, conventional monetary policy relies on interest-based instruments like open market operations (purchase and sale of government bonds to control money supply), discount rates (interest rates charged by central banks to commercial banks for short-term loans), and the federal funds rate (the rate at which banks lend reserve balances to other banks). These tools enable central banks to control the cost and availability of credit in the economy, thereby influencing economic activity and price stability. However, these interest-based instruments are not in line with the principles of Islamic finance, which necessitates the development of alternative monetary instruments as outlined above.

Moral values 

Islamic economics emphasizes the importance of moral values in economic pursuits, directing them towards achieving personal and social objectives, while conventional economics focuses primarily on efficiency and profit maximization.

Islamic economics is a branch of economics that emphasizes the significance of moral values and ethics in guiding economic activities. Rooted in the principles of the Islamic faith, it aims to balance material and spiritual pursuits, fostering individual and societal well-being. In contrast, conventional economics primarily revolves around the concepts of efficiency and profit maximization, often overlooking the importance of ethical and moral considerations.

Islamic economics stresses the adherence to the principles of justice, fairness, and equality in all economic transactions. It seeks to prevent exploitation, promote wealth distribution, and alleviate poverty by implementing Zakat (a form of obligatory charity), interest-free financial systems, and risk-sharing mechanisms like profit and loss sharing. Consequently, it fosters a sense of responsibility, social solidarity, and mutual cooperation among individuals and businesses.

Moreover, Islamic economics promotes sustainable development by encouraging environmental stewardship, conservation of resources, and responsible consumption. This holistic approach aims to harmonize economic growth with environmental preservation and social equity, leading to long-term societal well-being.

On the other hand, conventional economics often prioritize short-term gains and self-interest, which can sometimes result in environmental degradation, social inequality, and unethical business practices. It is important to note, however, that some conventional economic systems are integrating ethical considerations, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability into their models.

Social justice and equity

Islamic economics aims to promote social justice and equity, making efficiency and equity inseparable and interdependent, whereas conventional economics often prioritizes efficiency over equity.

Islamic economics is a unique economic system that seeks to balance social justice, equity, and efficiency in its pursuit of economic growth and development. Unlike conventional economics, which often emphasizes efficiency at the expense of equity, Islamic economics integrates both aspects, making them inseparable and interdependent.

This holistic approach stems from Islamic teachings and values, which emphasize the importance of social responsibility, fairness, and compassion. In this system, the principles of wealth distribution and financial transactions are grounded in ethical and moral considerations, ensuring that all members of society have access to resources and opportunities.

One key aspect of Islamic economics is the concept of Zakat, a mandatory charitable contribution made by eligible Muslims to help the less fortunate. This form of wealth redistribution ensures a more equitable society, as it alleviates poverty and provides support to those in need.

In addition, Islamic economics promotes a profit-sharing system that encourages partnership and cooperation among businesses, fostering a sense of collective responsibility. This system mitigates income inequality and reduces the risk of exploitation, as employees and business owners share in both the profits and losses.

Islamic finance, a subset of Islamic economics, also plays a vital role in fostering social justice and equity. Interest-free financing, or riba, encourages equitable access to capital, while risk-sharing instruments like Mudarabah and Musharakah ensure fairness in financial transactions.

By prioritizing social justice and equity, Islamic economics seeks to create a more inclusive and sustainable economic environment. This focus on both efficiency and equity ultimately serves the broader goal of fostering human welfare and ensuring the well-being of all members of society, rather than simply striving for financial gain.

Unification of religion and economic activity

Islamic economics integrates religious principles into economic activities, while conventional economics separates religion from economic activities.

Islamic economics represents a unique approach to economic systems, as it fuses religious principles with economic activities, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two. This integration is rooted in the teachings of Islam, which emphasize the importance of social justice, wealth distribution, and responsible business practices. Unlike conventional economics, which often compartmentalizes religion and economic activities as separate entities, Islamic economics seeks to ensure that both elements coexist harmoniously.

At the core of Islamic economics is the belief that all resources are divine gifts, and humans are merely custodians of these gifts. Consequently, individuals are encouraged to conduct their economic activities in a way that aligns with Islamic teachings, such as by avoiding interest (riba) and engaging in ethical investments. This approach fosters a sense of moral responsibility, ensuring that economic activities positively impact society and the environment.

Another key aspect of Islamic economics is the promotion of equitable wealth distribution through mandatory charitable giving (zakat) and voluntary donations (sadaqah). This system ensures that wealth circulates in society, reducing income disparities and contributing to overall social welfare. Additionally, Islamic economics discourages speculation and excessive risk-taking, promoting financial stability and sustainable growth.

By incorporating religious principles into economic activities, Islamic economics offers a holistic approach to modern economic systems. This model seeks to create a just, balanced, and ethical economic environment, where spiritual values and material wealth are not seen as conflicting but rather as complementary forces driving sustainable development and social harmony.

Principles of Islamic Economics

The main principles of Islamic economics are derived from the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, focusing on promoting human welfare through the allocation and distribution of limited resources in accordance with Islamic laws. Some key principles include:

Prohibition of interest (usury)

Islamic economics bans interest-based transactions, as they are considered unjust and exploitative.

Islamic economics prohibits interest-based transactions, or “riba”, under the belief that they promote inequality and exploitation. This system emphasizes ethical finance, encouraging profit-sharing and risk-sharing agreements that foster social justice and mutual cooperation. By eliminating usurious practices, Islamic economics aims to distribute wealth more equitably, empowering the disadvantaged while cultivating economic stability and sustainable growth for all members of society.

Profit-loss sharing (PLS) system

Instead of interest, Islamic economics adopts a PLS system, where partners share profits and losses in a fair and transparent manner.

Islamic economics rejects interest-based transactions and embraces the Profit and Loss Sharing (PLS) system as a more ethical alternative. This approach promotes equitable wealth distribution and social responsibility, as partners jointly invest in ventures, agreeing to share both profits and losses transparently. PLS fosters collaboration, risk-sharing, and accountability, discouraging exploitative practices prevalent in interest-based systems. Consequently, it supports sustainable economic growth, financial stability, and overall societal well-being, aligning with the core Islamic principles of fairness, justice, and solidarity.

Social justice and equity

Islamic economics emphasizes the importance of social justice and equity, making efficiency and equity inseparable and interdependent.

Islamic economics prioritizes both social justice and economic efficiency, as it seeks to create a balanced and inclusive society. Its core principles revolve around the equitable distribution of wealth, the prohibition of usury, and the promotion of ethical business practices. By intertwining efficiency and equity, Islamic economics ensures that resources are allocated optimally while maintaining a focus on the well-being of all community members. This holistic approach encourages collaboration, altruism, and responsible stewardship, fostering sustainable growth and a harmonious socioeconomic environment.

Moral values

Economic pursuits should take place within the context of moral values, ensuring that individual and social objectives are met.

Economic pursuits must be guided by ethical principles, striking a balance between personal ambitions and societal goals. This approach promotes fair distribution of resources, sustainable growth, and social responsibility. By integrating moral values into economic activities, businesses can foster a just society, prioritizing human welfare and long-term prosperity over short-term gains. The incorporation of ethical standards can help prevent exploitation, reduce inequality, and protect the environment, creating an inclusive and sustainable economy that benefits everyone.

Wealth creation and distribution

In an Islamic framework, the creation and distribution of wealth are instrumental in promoting individual and social well-being.

In an Islamic framework, the creation and distribution of wealth are considered essential components of promoting individual and social well-being. Islam places great importance on economic activity, and it encourages individuals to engage in lawful economic activities to earn a living and support themselves and their families. 

Islamic principles emphasize the fair distribution of wealth, including the obligation to pay Zakat (a form of charity) and other forms of voluntary charity to help those in need. Islamic economics also promotes social welfare and the eradication of poverty through various means, including interest-free banking, profit-sharing, and investment in public goods and services. Ultimately, the Islamic approach to wealth creation and distribution aims to promote a just and equitable society where all individuals can thrive and reach their full potential.

Monetary policy

Islamic economics has its specific monetary standards and instruments, which are free from interest or riba-based variables, such as musharakah certificates.

Islamic economics is based on the principles of Sharia law, which prohibits the use of interest or riba-based financial transactions. In Islamic finance, there are specific monetary standards and instruments that are designed to ensure compliance with these principles. For example, musharakah certificates are a type of investment instrument used in Islamic finance that are based on profit sharing rather than interest-based transactions. This means that the investor and the entrepreneur share both the risks and profits of the investment. This type of financial instrument is just one example of how Islamic economics seeks to create a more equitable and just financial system that is free from exploitative practices such as interest-based lending.

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