Islam, Islamic Countries, and Competition Law: From Past Glory to Modern Day Challenges

Maher Dabbah, May 29, 2012

…Despite this rich history and past glory, Islamic countries did not carry the mechanism of economic regulation, in the form of Hisba, into modern times. Indeed, there has been inadequate recognition given by these countries to the importance of Hisba as an institution for market regulation. More generally, these countries have been among the latecomers to arrive properly at the competition law scene. And in doing so, they have not made use of their Islamic identity, but rather have-quite comfortably-become part of the generic category known as “developing countries” or “emerging economies” in the field of competition law.

While for some people it may be quite difficult to understand why-in light of the past Islam had in economic regulation-Islamic countries have been such latecomers, this development is understandable because, since their inception, competition law and policy have been dominated by particular political, economic, and legal forces. These forces have mandated that certain changes and evolutions ought to occur for “modern” competition law and policy to become relevant in a given economy.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that Islamic countries should take a backseat in the development of competition law and policy globally. Indeed, with these countries increasingly turning their attention to competition law, they are in a good position to contribute to the debate on global competition law and policy and to offer a fresh perspective that can help put competition law into its proper cultural and socio-political context.

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