Book Review

Osmanlı Vakıf Hukukuna Giriş: Ahkâm-ı Evkâf (Introduction to Ottoman Waqf Law: Ahkâm-ı Evkâf)


Many researchers have investigated why the modern economy emerged in the Northwest Europe and not in the Middle East. Some researchers have argued that Islam is inherently opposed to innovation and that Muslim societies cannot adapt to changing conditions. Others tried to measure the economic performance of the Islamic world also stating that Islamic Law is an obstacle to modern economic growth. For the latter, some authors examined Islamic law of waqf to support their arguments, as the awqaf form the economic basis of Muslim societies for many centuries. According to these researchers awqaf in the Islamic World delayed the emergence of private entrepreneurship, in the form of corporations and modern companies, which are among driving forces of modern economic progress, such as in the west of Europe. This thesis, highlighted in more recent studies, has been expressed in different ways by both oriental and Muslim intellectuals since
the 19th century when the signs of economic backwardness began to be visible. Accordingly, since the waqf institution provide public services to the needy on free basis, it makes people inert and destroys private entrepreneurship. In addition, the waqf system generally withdraws the wealth from the economic circulation and prevents people from acquiring property. Thus, the inability to circulate wealth among society hinders economic development. This situation is caused by a set of rules inherent in Islamic law of waqf, Muslim intellectuals, living in the times when the debates first arose, responded to the objections, summarized above and directly related to the legitimacy of the waqf.