Kasb: A Comparative Study of the Concept of Economics in Islamic and Modern Economics

Main Article Content

Amru Sazali


Kasb literature is a genre of works highlighting the exhortation to work and be involved in worldly material affairs, while being attentive to its perils, on the grounds that true reliance is on God alone and each individual man is responsible for his own actions, which must adhere to the boundaries of ethics and morality (akhlāq). Unlike modern economics, the concept of kasb emerges from the outlook of absolute monotheism; thus, man’s involvement in economic activities from the kasb point of view has spiritual and transcendental purposes. On the other hand, modern economics deals only with the physical and material aspects of life, disregarding especially the metaphysical aspects of man. The usage of the term kasb in referring to economics-related discussions can be found persistently throughout the Islamic intellectual tradition, especially in works concerning ethics and spiritual manuals on embarking on a righteous life. Unfortunately, this genre of literature has been scantily explored to date. Hence, this paper aims to examine and analyse the concept of kasb in the Islamic economic tradition and compare it to its parallel in modern economics. The first section deals with the term kasb as used in the works of past scholars. It will then be followed by the discussion on the concept of kasb and a suggestion on the reorientation of the meaning of economics. Understanding the concept of kasb provides a proper basis for the actualisation of wholesome work (alkasb al-ṭayyib) to attain the overarching objectives of the common good (al-maṣlaḥah al-ʿāmmah) and the good life (al-ḥayāh al-ṭayyibah).

Article Details

How to Cite
Sazali, A. (2023). Kasb: A Comparative Study of the Concept of Economics in Islamic and Modern Economics. TAFHIM: IKIM Journal of Islam and the Contemporary World, 16(2), 89–111. https://doi.org/10.56389/tafhim.vol16no2.4


Abdul Azim Islahi. “The Genesis of Islamic Economics.” Islamic Economic Studies 23 (2), 2015: 1–28.

Adi Setia. “Muʿāmala and The Revival of The Islamic Gift Economy.” Islam & Science 9 (1), 2011: 67–88.

Adi Setia. “Al-Ghazālī on the Proprieties of Earning and Living: Insights and Excerpts from His Kitāb Ādāb al-Kasb wal-Maʿāsh for Reviving Economies for Communities.” Journal of Islamic Sciences 11 (1), 2013: 19–62.

Adi Setia. “The Meaning of ‘Economy’: Qaṣd, Iqtiṣād, and Tadbīr al-Manzil.” Journal of Islamic Sciences 14 (1), 2016: 113–121.

Al-Attas, Syed Muhammad Naquib. The Nature of Man and the Psychology of the Human Soul: A Brief Outline and Framework for an Islamic Psychology and Epistemology. Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1990.

_____. Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam. Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1995.

Chapra, M. Umer. Islam and the Economic Challenge. Riyadh: IIIT, 1992.

Al-Daghistani, Sami. The Making of Islamic Economic Thought: Islamization, Law, and Moral Discourses. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Daly, Herman, John B. Cobb Jr., and Clifford W. Cobb. For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.

Al-Fayrūz Ābādī. al-Qāmūs al-Muḥīṭ . Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 2005.

Al-Fayyūmī, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī. al-Miṣbāḥ al-Munir fī Gharīb al-Sharḥ al-Kabīr. Damascus: Dār al-Fayḥāʾ, 2016.

Al-Ghazālī, Abū Ḥāmid. The Book of Proprieties of Earning and Living. Translated by Adi Setia. Kuala Lumpur: IBFI, 2013.

Graeber, David. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. London: Penguin Books, 2018.

Hanif al-Hakim. Makna dan Pemikiran Kasb Menurut Imam al- Shaybānī. Kuala Lumpur: Rihla, 2021.

Heilbroner, Robert L. “Modern Economics as a Chapter in the History of Economic Thought.” Challenge 22 (6), 1980: 20–24.

Ibn Abī al-Dunyā. The Restoration of Wealth (Iṣlāḥ al-Māl). Translated by Adi Setia. Kuala Lumpur: IBFIM, 2016.

Ibn Manẓūr. Lisān al-ʿArab. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣadr, 1997.

Jha, Yusuf. “Examining the Meta-Principles of Modern Economics.” Journal of Islamic Sciences 1 (2), 2013: 169–184.

Al-Jurjānī, al-Sharīf. Sharḥ al-Mawāqif. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah, 1998.

Al-Jurjānī, al-Sharīf. Kitāb al-Taʿrīfāt. Cairo: Dār al-Faḍīlah. 2004.

Al-Māwardī. al-Ḥāwī al-Kabīr fī Fiqh Madhhab al-Shāfiʿī wa Huwa Mukhtaṣar al-Muzanī. Vol. 5. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah, 1994.

Mohd Zaidi Ismail, and Mohd Sani Badron. Good Governance: Adab-Oriented Tadbīr in Islam. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit IKIM, 2011.

Al-Muḥāsibī, al-Ḥārith ibn Asad. Scrupulousness and the Pursuit of Livelihood (al-Makāsib wa’l-Waraʿ). Translated by Adi Setia. Kuala Lumpur: IBFIM, 2017.

Normark, Dennis, and Anders F. Jensen. Pseudowork: How We Ended Up Being Busy Doing Nothing. Oslo: Gyldendal. 2021.

Orman, Sabri. “Sources of the History of Islamic Economic Thought (II).” Al-Shajarah: Journal of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation 3 (2), 1998.

_____. “From Oikonomia to ʿIlm Tadbīr al-Manzil—Intercivilisational Exchange of Knowledge in the Intellectual Tradition of Islam.” In Civilisational, Istanbul: ICOC, 2013.

Robbins, Lionel. An Essay on the Significance of Economic Science. London: MacMillan and Co., 1945.

Sardar, Ziauddin, ed. The Touch of Midas: Science, Values, and Environment in Islam and the West. Manchester: The Manchester University Press, 1984.

Schwarz, Michael. “Acquisition (Kasb) in Early Kalām.” in Islamic Philosophy and the Classical Tradition, 335–387. South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1972.

Sen, Amartya. On Ethics and Economics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1987.

Al-Shaybānī, Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan. The Book of Earning a Livelihood. Translated by Adi Setia. Kuala Lumpur: IBFIM, 2011.