Zakat: Islam’s missed opportunity to limit predatory taxation

Journal Article (Journal Article)

One of Islam’s five canonical pillars is a predictable, fixed, and mildly progressive tax system called zakat. It was meant to finance various causes typical of a pre-modern government. Implicit in the entire transfer system was personal property rights as well as constraints on government—two key elements of a liberal order. Those features could have provided the starting point for broadening political liberties under a state with explicitly restricted functions. Instead, just a few decades after the rise of Islam, zakat opened the door to arbitrary political rule and material insecurity. A major reason is that the Quran does not make explicit the underlying principles of governance. It simply outlines the specifics of zakat as they related to conditions in seventh-century Arabia.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kuran, T

Published Date

  • March 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 182 / 3-4

Start / End Page

  • 395 - 416

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-7101

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0048-5829

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11127-019-00663-x

Citation Source

  • Scopus