Posts Tagged ‘Arab world’

Inheritance Laws: A Theory Why India’s Muslims Lag

October 3, 2012 1 comment

How ancient marriage and inheritance customs shape modern society.

Hate The Muslim Woman cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

Hate The Muslim Woman cartoon by Khalil Bendib.


Why are the populations of Saudi Arabia (2.81 crores – 2011), Jordan (0.62 crores – 2011), Syria (o.23 crores – 2011), Iraq (3.3 crores – 2011), Iran (7.48 crores – 2011) so low?

Say, compared to other Islamic countries like Pakistan (17.7 crores – 2011), Bangladesh (15.1 crores – 2011), Indonesia (24.2 crores – 2011) – even Malaysia (28.9 crores – 2011).

To get a perspective, population of Maharashtra is 11.24 crores (2011).

Part of The Answer

The answer is late marriages in the Arab world-Middle East due to meher.

Since meher system is not strictly followed outside the Arab world-Middle East, early marriages are common. Marriage itself as an element is more common outside the Arab world-Middle East. Marriage in the Arab world-Middle East is a sign of rank and status.

Meher also drives the system of multiple wives – ‘If she is worth US$100,000, then I am good for at least US$75,000’ kind of thinking operates among women.

Dowry on the other hand helps to push-start the young to start a family – which improves population growth.

Could it be that the poor performance on economic and social indicators by India’s Muslims today doesn’t just reflect current disadvantage and deprivation, but also has far deeper historical, cultural, and religious roots?

Timur Kuran, an economics professor at Duke University, together with Anantdeep Singh, a researcher at the University of Southern California, in a new study have argued that the roots of Muslims’ lagging performance may be attributed to institutional differences that go back to the British colonial period. In doing so, they discount conventional explanations including the supposed “conservatism and insularity” of Islam, the supposed “demoralization” of the Muslim community after the fall of the Mughal empire, and the supposed animosity of the attitude of British colonizers against the Muslims and in favor of the Hindus.

Instead, Mr. Kuran and Mr. Singh argue that the real culprit is the Islamic inheritance system, which the British codified and enforced after coming to power in India. They suggest that the typical Muslim form of saving across generations, family trusts known as Waqfs, were not well suited for the pooling of capital across families, nor were they well suited to pursuing profit-making enterprises. What they were good at, though, was providing a safe way for an individual family to save its wealth over time.

By contrast, more flexible Hindu inheritance practices were much better suited to capital accumulation within a given family, the pooling of resources within extended family and clan networks, and the preservation and growth of wealth across generations. What is more, Hindus tended to do business within family run enterprises that were able to transition to modern corporate setups in the 20th century, whereas Muslims tended to rely on transitory and short-lived business partnerships with other Muslims that were difficult to translate into the structure of a modern corporation.

While it’s obviously true that Islamic inheritance practices predate British rule, the study documents that these laws were only loosely enforced during the late Mughal period and many Muslims, especially converts, continued to live by non-Islamic customs including inheritance practices. However, the British, who set up common law courts, more rigorously applied the distinct inheritance laws of different communities. Crucially, as Mr. Kuran and Mr. Singh argue, the British, being unfamiliar with Indian traditions, institutionalized a more “classical” or Arabic form of Islamic law than the more flexible practices derived from Persian and other sources that had existed under the Mughals.

The end result was that in practice many more Muslims became subject to a stricter enforcement of Islamic laws. Tellingly, the Muslims who’ve fared best economically come from small ”nonconforming” communities that converted from Hinduism – the Khojas, Bohras, Memons and Girasias – who as it happens were allowed by the British to retain their original inheritance practices. Azim Premji, India’s richest Muslim and the only Indian Muslim on the Forbes list of billionaires, is a Khoja.

via Economics Journal: A Theory Why India’s Muslims Lag – India Real Time – WSJ.

Can Arab Spring Be Successful?

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Was the overthrow of Mubarak another spontaneous ‘revolt’? What is the road-map? Any agenda?

It was clear then - and clear now. This is just empty rage - without any clear agenda or roadmap.  |  Cartoon by By William Warren  |  February 1, 2011  |   Image source and courtesy -  |  COPYRIGHT 2011 LIBERTY FEATURES SYNDICATE - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

It was clear then - and clear now. This is just empty rage - without any clear agenda or roadmap. | Cartoon by By William Warren | February 1, 2011 | Image source and courtesy - | COPYRIGHT 2011 LIBERTY FEATURES SYNDICATE - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Time and place

When people are dying and suffering, it is no time to say I told you so …

Except when the situation demands that!

Nine months ago, 2ndlook warned about the gushing coverage of Arab Spring  in the mainstream media on these ‘protests (which) may have now acquired a life of their own’ and ‘sweeping changes … coming to the Arab lands, where authoritarian regimes are the norm’ and how ‘present protests, could be a game-changer’. 2ndlook threw cold water on an overjoyed world of Twitterati, Chatterati, Bloggerati, Paparazzi went ahead and claimed credit for this ‘change’.

Aladdin’s Lamp – Old despots for new

Are Arabs talking of Western style’ democracy’ and ‘freedom‘?

Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Is it political freedom, like Europe which believes that a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy?

Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. To be like the West today, that has the lowest levels of diversity – ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. And makes the most noise about freedom and human rights.

Is democracy a solution - or a temporary respite from malignant dictatorships  | Cartoon by Carlos Latuff; February 2011; source and courtesy -  |  Click for larger source image.

Is democracy a solution - or a temporary respite from malignant dictatorships | Cartoon by Carlos Latuff; February 2011; source and courtesy - | Click for larger source image.

How bad were these ‘despots’

Indeed, a case could be made for these stable despots who have sent packing in Tunisia and Egypt.  In both Tunisia and Egypt, people have seen economic progress, without dependence on oil – unlike most of Islāmic Middle East.

Compared to Turkey’s per-capita, or oil-inflated Oman’s US$ 25,000 or petro-daddy  Saudi’s US$ 23,300, Tunisia with US$ 9100 per capita and Egypt with US$ 5900 come out favorably. Tunisia or Egypt did not favor the beheading or amputation routine of Iran or Saudi Arabia – or mass-imprisonment regimes like USA, UK or China. Like all modern-State-nations, concentration of wealth is a ‘given’ – regardless of Europe, USA or Islāmic Middle-East.

There was neither a shining vision, nor economic necessity, or relative oppression, which triggered these revolts. Instead of an ‘elected’ Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians got Army Rule. Was that a satisfactory or a desirable outcome? Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils? Does a change in government without modifying governance-model make any difference?

Without a viable ‘reason’ for revolt, what made so many people come out in the open?

I can get no satisfaction

It is no satisfaction that this outcome was forewarned in the 2ndlook post.

Egypt’s military rulers apologized Thursday for the deaths of dozens of pro-democracy protesters and vowed to prosecute those responsible in its latest attempt to appease the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets demanding that the generals immediately step down.

Police and protesters also agreed to a truce negotiated by Muslim clerics after five days of fierce street battles that have left nearly 40 dead.

The fighting around Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, which began Saturday, has been the longest spate of uninterrupted violence since the 18-day uprising that toppled longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11. It has deepened the country’s economic and security woes ahead of the first parliamentary elections since Muabrak’s regime was toppled. Voting is scheduled to begin on Monday.

The military statement came two days after Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council that assumed control of the country after Mubarak stepped down, promised in a televised address to hold a presidential election in the first half of next year but did not offer an apology for the killings. (via Truce Halts Fighting In Cairo’s Tahrir Square | Fox News).

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