Corruption and Bribery in Islamic Law: Are Islamic Ideals Being Met in Practice?

EARLA Member Mohamed A. Arafa recently published an article on corruption and bribery in Islamic law for the Golden Gate University School of Law's Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law.

You can downlad and read the entire article here: Corruption and Bribery in Islamic Law: Are Islamic Ideals Being Met in Practice?


Corruption and Bribery in Islamic Law: Are Islamic Ideals Being Met in Practice?

Mohamed A. Arafa, LL.B., LL.M.

Alexandria University - Faculty of Law; Robert H. McKinney School of Law (Student)

July 2012

18 Golden Gate Ann. Surv. Int'l & Comp. L. 171 (Spring 2012) 


Ethical norms, and the institutions underwriting and giving force to them, can widen horizons and choices, enabling individuals to do more things than would have been possible in their absence. Trust and certainty in the integrity of market exchanges and interpersonal dealings is an important social lubricant. In this respect, ethics might be thought of as a pure “public good.” The corollary of this new thinking about ethics is that corruption is corrosive not only because it enables some in society to secure an unfair advantage over others; those engaging in corruption are harming us all by eroding norms and institutions which benefit us all.

Declining morality in public life can set in train a cycle of decline. Insisting upon the maintenance of high standards in all facets of life — private and public — rightfully becomes a cornerstone of good governance. By shedding light on an under-examined system of law, this article makes a necessary contribution to the beginning of a fruitful study in the west of Islamic law. Although the recent literature has paid increasing attention to the problems of corruption and bribery, so far few authors have treated this issue in the context of Islamic law. Scholarly treatment of this issue is therefore urgent, all the more so considering that Islamic law represents a source of law affecting over one billion people living in the world’s 49 majority-Muslim nations.

It is argued that the emerging shift in social scientific thought in viewing corruption from “grease that oils the economic wheel” to a “menace that undermines economic growth” has brought rational understanding of the phenomenon much closer to Islamic doctrine. Where they differ is with respect to remedial action. The western approach focuses on governance and designing appropriate systems and institutions that gear information and incentives toward minimizing opportunities and enticement for corruption. In short, it emphasizes constraints external to the individual. On the other hand, Islam seeks to go beyond such constraints, and also instill in believers a clear “second-order” preference for no corrupt behavior. It recommends developing a firm belief in transcendent accountability, stresses character building through practicing moral virtues and shunning vices. In essence, much of the restraint comes from within through a moral renovation. It is the contention that both emphases are important in eliminating corruption and that the followers of Islam and the West can learn from one another. Recent social scientific thinking lends some support to this reasoning. As ethics can be empowering, as well as making good practical sense “constraining”, since ultimately everyone benefits from the behavioral boundaries that ethics dictate. There is room for both lines of attack upon corruption. 

An Islamic model cannot be secured unless we establish a powerful and large state, strong in its economy, social institutions, education, etc.; a nation that produces enough to let its citizens enjoy decent life and free from poverty and corrupt behavior. Furthermore, enlightened religious leaders are supposed to address social problems and raise their voices against injustice, corrupt governments, and red-tape practices. Therefore, corruption is to be tackled by moral education designed to inculcate in believers a clear second-order preference for virtuous behavior, reinforced by legal structures, and administrative systems reflecting and supporting this stance. Equally, however, the significant ethical and moral dimensions to reducing corruption cannot be downplayed either, if only because there are situations where the external constraints confronting officials are weak and self-restraint is needed. By illuminating a body of law often overlooked in western literature and describing its impact, or lack thereof, on a major area of study, this article contributes to the scholarly study of corruption.

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قواعد الأخلاق و المؤسسات القائمة على تنفيذها تفتح افاقا جديدة تمكن الأفراد من فعل المزيد. الثقة فى تعاملات الأسواق و الأفراد هو أمر هام للمجتمع. فى هذا الشأن , الأخلاق يمكن ان تعتبر سلعة عامة. والنتيجة الطبيعية لهذا التفكير الجديد حول الأخلاق هو أن الفساد هو داء ليس فقط لانه يمكن بعض الأفراد من التميز على الاخرين دون سبب و لكن أيضا الفاسدين يضروا الجميع بالقضاء على القواعد و المؤسسات. انخفاض الاخلاق فى الحياه العامة هى سلسلة انخفاض مثل دائرة القطار. التصميم على الحفاظ على معايير عالية فى كافة اوجه الحياه هى حجر الزاوية فى الحوكمة الجيدة.

بإلقاء الضوء على هذا النظام القانونى غير المختبر , هذا المقال يفتح المجال أمام دراسة القانون الاسلامى. رغم ان المقالات الحديثة اهتمت بمشكلات الفساد و الرشوة , قليل من الكتاب اهتموا بالموضوع من جانب القانون الاسلامى. لذلك يجب الاهتمام بهذا الموضوع بصورة عاجلة حيث ان القانون الاسلامى يمثل مصدر التشريع لأكثر من مليار شخص فى العالم يعيشون فى 49 دولة ذات اغلبية مسلمة. الأسلوب الغربى يركز على الحوكمة و المؤسسات التى تعمل على تقليل الفساد. باختصار , هو اسلوب يركز على قيود خارجية عن الفرد. على الجانب الآخر ,الإسلام يتجاوز ذلك  حيث يغرس فى الفرد تفضيل عدم ارتكاب سلوك فاسد. هو أسلوب يرشح تطوير إيمان بالمسئولية عن طريق القيم الاخلاقية. فى الحقيقة كثير من القيود تأتى من تجدد الأخلاق. إن الرضا هو أساس مكافحة الفساد و بذلك يجب ان يتعلم كل من المسلمين و الغرب من بعضهم البعض. التفكير الاجتماعى العلمى الحديث يؤيد هذه النظرة.

لايمكن تطبيق النموذج الاسلامى دون بناء دولة قوية ذات اقتصاد قوى و مؤسسات اجتماعية و تعليم , و دولة تنتج بشكل كاف لتمكن مواطنيها من الحياه بكرامة دون فقر و فساد. بالإضافة إلى ذلك , علماء الدين يمكن ان يواجهوا المشكلات الاجتماعية و يواجهوا انعدام العدالة و الحكومات الفاسدة. لذلك يمكن مواجهة الفساد عن طريق تعليم الاخلاق و يلعب البناء القانونى و الادارى دور مكمل.  بإلقاء الضوء على قانون مهمل فى الغرب , يكون هذا المقال قد حقق هدفه فى دراسة ظاهرة الفساد.


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