This paper presents the ideas of transformative school in Islamic economics. Transformative school of thought in the methodology of Islamic economics is not that much interested in descriptive studies and improving the predictive capability of models to analyze market outcomes and to design policies accordingly. It believes in the transformation of choices through education.
Divine Economics framework provides an empirical basis of behavioural comparison between religious and non-religious agents with regards to their economic and non-economic choices. It incorporates the methodological framework of mainstream economics for the study of religion and economics in each other’s perspective. It looks at religious behaviour from the lens of ‘economic good’ and ‘economic behaviour’ in markets where the choice has economic considerations, such as relative prices, opportunity cost of time, income effect and substitution effect. However, reliance on stated preferences, overlap between religious and non-religious activities, inability to observe the motivation and intention behind choices and to judge the quality of religious activities are some of the challenges in this research framework.
Many professionals today experience a dilemma where they must make a choice between being good humans and being good at their job. They are left to wonder how the principles of love, generosity, fairness, reciprocity, and trust that they know to be true about life in general, do not apply at work. Some resort to the unfortunate conclusion that cold selfish behaviour is “natural” for human beings in economic situations. This is false. One of the prime reasons for moral listlessness at the workplace lies buried in mainstream economic theory.
Muslim economists have employed the mainstream economics tools to explicate consumption in the Islamic framework. Two of the key limitations of these early works are that they used the Keynesian framework without building micro foundations and they did not model the behaviour in an intertemporal context.
There is considerable debate in Islamic economics literature on what shall be the correct response and attitude towards mainstream economics methodology. There are three varied responses among Islamic economists regarding the issue. The first response is to use the methodology of mainstream economics in Islamic economics as is. The second response is to modify it according to the needs and the context of Islamic framework. The third response is to discard it altogether and devise a new methodological framework from scratch.
A great number of empirical studies now challenge the position of conceptualising human behaviour only in the framework of a rational, utility-maximizing homo-economicus. Yet, this framework is used for the purpose of simplicity and tractability in situations where abstraction does not result in major loss of focus and information at hand.
Recent evidence in behavioral finance and consumer psychology points to the fact that consumer information processing capabilities are limited and prone to error. Alias paradox and Ellsberg paradox are good examples of this phenomenon. Furthermore, ‘Ultimatum Game’ reflects the fact that people tend to look at their choice outcomes relatively. Prisoner’s Dilemma highlights the fact that choices by each player in a self-centric way are not necessarily going to be best for them either individually or collectively.
Studies in primary-data based religious choices or economic choices by religious persons can explain differences in social and economic choices between religious and non-religious groups, but measuring both the religiosity and its causal effect on behavior is difficult to establish. Furthermore, it is only a Godly endeavor to truly judge about religiosity.