Research Paper in Focus

Mind the Gap: Theories in Islamic Accounting and Finance

Paper Title: Mind the Gap: Theories in Islamic Accounting and Finance, Islamic Economics and Business Management Studies

Author:        Murniati Mukhlisin, Nurizal Ismail and Reza Jamilah Fikri

Publisher:    ISRA International Journal of Islamic Finance, Vol. 14 No. 3, 333 – 348.

This paper investigates whether contemporary literature published in top ranked journals use classical theories or the works of classical scholars in the area of Islamic economics, Islamic accounting and finance and Islamic business management or not.

The authors conclude that contemporary literature does not cite and takes inspiration and clues from classical sources. Authors suggest that there could be different reasons for that.

First and foremost is the language barrier. Language barrier plays its role not only in terms of difference in language, but also in terms of absence of equivalent key terms and jargon in multiple languages. Hence, it is possible that two works may possibly be telling the same thing, but in different language and terminology.

Second reason is inaccessibility or lack of attention. Contemporary researchers with empirical mind-set do not always find interest in questioning the assumptions and foundations of modern social and management sciences.

The paper also presents the integration of knowledge methodology of Tazkia university which puts Quran and Sunnah at the forefront and then also pays attention to both Islamic and secular literature.

The paper highlights an important point about the lack of attention given by Muslims themselves on the works of Ibn-e-

Khuldun and other scholars. Those working in sociology of development or political economy should pay great attention to Ibn-e-Khuldun.

However, a word of caution is also required. Authors had only used the papers which have been indexed by ABS. Often, high rated indices give space to works which are written in mainstream style. Most such outlets do not have exclusive journals or even issues for Islamic viewpoint on different matters.

Hence, such an array of articles does not fully represent broad Islamic scholarship. It is possible that a paper is published in low rated journal, but covers classical scholarship because the outlet allows and encourages that.

Furthermore, there is ample literature available in Urdu, Arabic, Malay and Turkish as well, which was not part of the scope of the study.

Secondly, citing for the sake of citing is of no use. If there is merit in attributing some concept to a Muslim classical author, then it is fine. Often, their own wordings are extrapolated in contemporary terms to reflect that Muslim scholarship had an idea about it long ago, but it turns out that the original wording does not make a clear contribution to warrant an exclusive and full attribution to a contemporary idea.

Author gives an example of bookkeeping. Of course, some kind of recording mechanism will have been developed in earlier times as well. But, accrual basis of accounting with all its details is not simple bookkeeping, but a sophisticated way of accounting.

Finally, classical scholarship may have looked at phenomena in a simplistic way; whereas, world may have moved to understand the phenomena in a more complex way. Thus, ignoring mainstream literature on ideological or civilizational basis alone is not a recommendable approach.

That is why, Tazkia Model integrates knowledge from both Muslim scholarship and also from secular scholarship to understand the nature and context of problems and then to find policies to solve them while being compliant with boundary conditions given by Qur’an and Sunnah.

There is just one issue with such recent literature which is relying on software to give highly frequent keywords. Software is blind to ideas. Nothing matches careful and involved reading to decipher perspectives. Software can simply put forward irrelevant, but frequently repeating words. For instance, in one place, the authors mention that “The most frequent keywords explaining Modern Theories are ‘Banking’, ‘Countries’, ‘Sukuk’, ‘Finance’, and ‘Earnings’. Meanwhile, classical theories refer mostly to ‘Institutions’, ‘Nation’, ‘Social’, ‘Christianity’, and ‘Middle’.

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