Lebanese American University


Can the Islamic economic system be the alternative?

Assistant Professor of Economics Ayman Reda wins the Potter Award for taking a deep look at alternative economic schools of thought.

Dr. Ayman Reda, assistant dean at the School of Business and assistant professor of economics at LAU Beirut, has received the Helen Potter Award for best paper published in the Review of Social Economy during the year 2013 for his piece on “Islam and Markets.”

“This recognition is a huge honor for me,” says the professor who has been given the distinct honor to serve as a member of the editorial board of the publication.

The prestigious journal of the Association for Social Economics has been driving conversation about important socioeconomic issues since its founding in 1942. And the award, which was established and endowed in 1975, is presented annually to the author of the best article in the quarterly periodical.

The argument that Reda makes is simple and clear: the 2008 global economic meltdown revealed the limitations of the dominant neoclassical approach and it is high time we looked closely at existing, more human-focused, alternatives.

“One of them is the Islamic economic system, which along with many other schools of thought argue that we should not only look at markets, but also at ethics, issues of equity, fairness and social justice,” he says adding that contrarily to the current system there might be a role for government and non-market institutions to play.

The recent economic crisis has resulted in an increased interest in and curiosity for alternative systems, worldwide. “The Islamic economic school of thought, like other currents that are critical of the neoclassical model are saying: we are human beings with feelings and sentiments, let’s reinstate ethics and morality,” Reda explains.

The argument, he says, is not to drop the whole model but to complement and support it with other elements that are important to us as individuals, families, societies and governments.

No model is complete, the expert claims. A major shortcoming of the Islamic economic system that he has searched is in markets. “I have tried to discover through Islamic scriptures, philosophers’ texts and jurisprudence the Islamic view of markets and I found out a lot of similarities with Christian views regarding how markets should work, how firms should behave in markets and how individuals should behave in markets.”

According to Reda, the only way out today is to foster discussion among economists. “The neoclassical school should not continue as it is, but unless we create dialogue among all schools of thought, no alternative by itself is enough.”


The full version of Dr. Reda’s article (published in March 2013) can be accessed through this link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00346764.2012.761752


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