The compatibility of Islam and the West : the context of global banking
In Western social and economic thought, the spiritual and the secular are sharply divided. In Islam they are indivisible. Islam has become a source of Western anxiety as the Other, the Shadow. The two are often seen as opposing systems with no commonality. This thesis highlights their, mutually beneficial, co-evolutionary past. The increase in the practice of Islamic banking transformed Islamic economics from a sub-field of Islamic jurisprudence and comparative systems into one, which interacts positively with mainstream economic theory. The core of this research is to investigate the compatibility/incompatibility of Islamic Banking practice with Western conventional banking in the global hypercompetitive financial environment. The context chosen for analysis is finance, which is central to global capitalism and an area in which key differences of principle and practice exist between Islam and the West. If we can show compatibilities in that particular area which is fundamental to both systems then we might confidently point to a significant degree of compatibility between the two systems. This thesis argues that if reconcilability between Islam and the West exists in the field of finance and if the two systems can co-evolve in a mutually productive way then we can be optimistic about the ability of the two systems to co-exist. Clearly they involve different attitudes, but this thesis argues, on the basis of significant compatibility these issues, are resolvable under the tradition of toleration that has existed in Western and Islamic societies. What the literature review does is to provide a conceptual basis for examining the context of the thesis, which is the compatibility of the two systems. However, the impact of the conceptual basis is mediated through a group of stakeholders in Islamic banking process (interviewees). This provides the rationale for the second empirical part of the thesis, which is based on open-ended interviews, with key stakeholders in the process. The thesis is structured into two major sections: Section A. the reflective section and the literature review and Section B the empirical work, a projective section looking at the current and future situation.