The Monetary Thought of Two Sixteenth-Century Muslim Scholars

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Abdul Azim Islahi

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Abstract

Muslim scholars of the sixteenth century continued the tradition of writing on economic issues. Their work, however, is characterized by the period’s overall feature of imitation and repetition and thus reflects hardly any advancement of monetary thought since the works of earlier Muslim scholars. This is clearly reflected in the two representative treatises on money: those of al-Suyuti (d. 1506), written at the beginning of the century, and of al-Tumurtashi (d. 1598), written at its end. The history of Islamic economic thought is a well-researched area of Islamic economics. To the best of our knowledge, however, all such research stopped at the end of the fifteenth century, the age of Ibn Khaldun and al-Maqrizi. The present paper seeks to advance this research and intends to investigate the monetary thought of Muslim scholars during the sixteenth century (corresponding to the hijr¥ years of 906 to 1009.) Beginning with an overview of earlier monetary thought in Islam to provide the necessary background information, it then goes on to note that particular century’s monetary problems in order to provide a perspective for the discussion of monetary thought among Muslim scholars. For the purpose of comparison, European monetary thought of the same period is also analyzed. Due to limitations of time and space, this paper concentrates on the relevant treatises and does not deal with the piecemeal opinions scattered throughout the voluminous corpus of Islamic literature. Thus, it focuses on al-Suyuti and al-Tumurtashi, as I could locate only their two exclusively monetary works. Hopefully this modest initiative will spur others to conduct more extensive research on the subject.

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