Reflections on the Life and Works of Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi
Prof. Dr. Nejatullah Siddiqi was born in 1931 in Gorakhpur, United Provinces, British India. He died at the age of 91 in United States on November 12, 2022.
He was among the pioneer scholars in the contemporary field of Islamic economics and finance. He was the recipient of King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies in 1982. He also won American Finance House Award in 1993. Furthermore, he received Shah Waliullah Award in New Delhi for contributions to Islamic Economics in 2003.
He was educated at Aligarh Muslim University as well as Rampur and Azamgarh. Dr. Siddiqi joined Aligarh Muslim University in BA in 1956. He topped the list of successful candidates both at the BA (1958) and MA (1960) examinations. His PhD Thesis was titled as “A Critical Examination of the Recent Theories of Profit” submitted in 1965 to Aligarh University and subsequently published in 1971.
He served as Associate Professor of economics and Professor of Islamic studies at the Aligarh Muslim University and as Professor of economics at the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in its Center for Research in Islamic Economics.
He later became a Fellow at the Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and after that a visiting scholar at the Islamic Research & Training Institute, Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah.
He was a prolific writer in Urdu and English. His writing style was analytical and yet easily accessible to both the technical and non-technical audience. He wrote on diverse areas, from Maqasid-e-Shari’ah to the nuances of banking without interest. He also meticulously wrote a succinct summary of Muslim economic thinking and translated Kitab-ul-Kharaj by Abu Yusuf.
Several of his works have been translated into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and other languages. His book ‘Banking without Interest’ has been published in 27 editions between 1973 and 2000 in 3 languages.
He has inspired economists working in the field of Islamic economics in the second, third, fourth and the current generations. It is no surprise that upon hearing news of his death, scholars of all ages and generations from the Islamic economics field around the world shared tributes on his tremendous contributions.
During his long academic career, he supervised a number of Ph.D. theses in the universities in India, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. His students and mentees include scholars like Prof. Abdul Azim Islahi, who is himself recipient of 2021 Islamic Economics Award by International Center for Islamic Economics, Turkey.
He was associated with a number of academic journals as editor or advisor. He served on numerous committees and participated in many conferences in various parts of the world. He was very helpful to all academics and shared his valuable knowledge in the society.
Some of his books in Urdu include the following:
غیر سودی بینکاری
اسلامی ادب: چند نظریاتی مقالات
مسلم پرسنل لاء
تاریخ اسلام عصر حاضر میں
کتاب الخراج (اردو ترجمہ) اسلام کا نظام محاصل –
نشاۃ ثانیہ کی راہ
انشورنس اسلامی معیشت میں
شرکت و مضاربت کے شرعی اصول
اسلام کا نظریہ ملکیت
اسلام میں عدل اجتماعی
معاصر اسلامی فکر کے توجہ طلب پہلو
اکیسویں صدی میں اسلام، مسلمان اور تحریک اسلامی
دینی مدارس: مسائل اور تقاضے
قرآن اور سائنس (سید قطب کی تفسیر سے ماخوذ)
Some of his notable books in English include:
- Islamic Banking and Finance in Theory and Practice: A Survey of the Art
- Riba, Bank Interest and the Rationale of its Prohibition
- Dialogue in Islamic Economics
- Islamic Public Economics
- Economics: An Islamic Approach
- Teaching Economics in Islamic Perspective
- Role of the State in the Economy
- Insurance in an Islamic Economy
- Partnership and Profit-Sharing in Islamic Law
- Banking Without Interest
- Issues in Islamic Banking
- Muslim Economic Thinking
- Contemporary Literature on Islamic Economics
- Economic Enterprise in Islam
- Some Aspects of the Islamic Economy
- Muslim Personal Law
- Recent Theories of Profit: A Critical Examination
As tributes flew from around the world, several of his contemporaries also highlighted his excellent character and personality. He was passionately driven towards Islamic economics. He was analytical and objective in his thinking and writing. He was open for advice and suggestions. Several scholars had regarded him as their mentor. He was aware of the contemporary socio-economic challenges. He urged for reformed thinking and appropriate response towards those challenges.
Dr. Nejatullah Siddiqi suggested that the way to respond to current challenges and circumstances in Islamic spirit shall utilize broader intellect, experiences and abilities in the Muslim society. In economic, health and scientific matters, experts of these fields also have a role to play in making us understand the implications and effects of the challenges and appropriate response to those challenges. For the experts in these fields, it is important to be well versed in understanding Qur’an to contribute their perspective in such debates.
For Islamic finance, he suggested that product development in Islamic finance shall take a broader perspective rather than just taking the perspective of major sponsors. Taking a narrower commercial perspective, some liquidity management products may get introduced in the system, but if the broad implication on macro economy, society and equitable distribution of income and wealth are given consideration, then the product development would tend to focus more on egalitarian and inclusive modes of finance, such as Mudarabah and Musharakah.
Understanding benefits and costs of commercial products from the social, macroeconomic and developmental standpoint would be better understood if economists and social scientists are also engaged in the process and discourse.
He was a visionary economist. He called for five strategic changes in approach:
- Family rather than the market as the starting point in economic analysis.
- Cooperation playing a more significant role in the economy, complementing competition
- Debts playing a subsidiary rather than the dominant role in financial markets
- Interest and interest-bearing instruments playing no part in money creation and monetary management
- Maqasid based thinking supplanting analogical reasoning in Islamic economic jurisprudence.
Some of the summaries and reviews of his books can be read on Islamic Economics Project website. The links are given below:
Insurance in an Islamic Economy
Muslim Economic Thinking: A Survey of Contemporary Literature
We pray for mercy of Allah for Dr. Muhammad Nejatullah Siddiqi and may his enormous contributions pave the way for more intellectual work in Islamic studies and may his scholarly contributions last till the end of times as Sadqa-e-Jaria for him. Aameen.
Categories: Articles on Islamic Economics
Contribution by thinkers has not been supported by Govt in Muslim States specially PAKISTAN.
First JUDGEMENT was not accepted by Nawaz Shareef.
Second was booted out by Gen. Musharraf.
The third one is lying on Table.
All 3 Judgments are same in essence.
Solutions are there but unfortunately Mr.DAR(Nawaz Shareef) is again in command)..
Ulema do not want to move.
CJ,CJCSC & COAS.are not interested.today
In Second Judgement ARMY BLOCKED THE WAY. TODAY THE COAS IS SAID TO BE “HAFIZ” BUT QUIET.
Govts since 1992 are fully responsible.
Ya. Allah(swt) we have been over powered by Govs etc.We do not want to fight Allah(swt) & Hazoor(pbuh).Please save Ummah.And Reward Sir Nijaat Ullah Siddiqi & those struggling for Deen in that line.