Between consumer demand and Islamic law: The evolution of Islamic credit cards in Turkey

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2015-11-01

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© 2015 Association for Comparative Economic Studies.The elimination of interest from financial transactions has been a salient goal of Islamization movements around the world. Its proponents have had to balance this objective, which they claim to draw from Islamic law (Sharia), against consumer demand for convenient products. In general they have opted to accommodate consumer demand, but surreptitiously, using legal ruses to disguise their compromises. Turkey's experience with credit cards offers a revealing case of the obfuscation in question. Having denounced credit cards as un-Islamic, Turkey's Islamic banks have all proceeded to issue credit cards of their own in order to remain competitive with their openly interest-friendly, conventional rivals. With local variations, the Turkish pattern resembles that of other markets where Islamic credit cards have made inroads. In Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, too, Islamic credit cards function like those of the conventional banks with which they compete for customers. The "Islamic" features of Islamic credit cards amount to branding. Contrary to the claims of their proponents, they do not involve fundamental financial innovations.

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10.1016/j.jce.2015.07.005

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Çokgezen, M, and T Kuran (2015). Between consumer demand and Islamic law: The evolution of Islamic credit cards in Turkey. Journal of Comparative Economics, 43(4). pp. 862–882. 10.1016/j.jce.2015.07.005 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13170.

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Kuran

Timur Kuran

Gorter Family Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies

Timur Kuran is Professor of Economics and Political Science, and Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. His research focuses on (1) social change, including the evolution of preferences and institutions, and (2) the economic and political history and modernization of the Middle East. His current projects include a study of the role that the Middle East’s traditional institutions played in its poor political performance, as measured by democratization and human liberties. Among his publications are Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (Harvard University Press); Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism (Princeton University Press); The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press); and a tri-lingual edited work that consists of ten volumes, Socio-Economic Life in Seventeenth-century Istanbul: Glimpses from Court Records (İş Bank Publications). After graduating from Robert Academy in Istanbul in 1973, Kuran went on to study economics at Princeton University (AB 1977) and Stanford University (PhD 1982). Between 1982 and 2007 he taught at the University of Southern California. He was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the John Olin Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, and a visiting professor of economics at Stanford University. He currently directs the Association for Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies (AALIMS); is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Economic Association; edits a book series for Cambridge University Press, serves on numerous editorial boards; and is a member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences. He has served on the World Economic Forum’s Arab World Council.


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