It is the task of the scholars to refer to the Islamic sources to obtain Islamic norms on economic issues and to find out solutions consistent with these norms. This has happened throughout Islamic history according to the need of the time and space, and has produced a rich heritage of Islamic literature covering all aspects of human life including economic issues and other matters having implications for economic behavior.
Economic issues have been addressed from different perspectives by various authors in the context of different disciplines and in response to the needs of respective times in the Islamic history. Five different dimensions of analysis may broadly be identified.
First, discussions related to economic matters in the discipline of Tafsir (exegesis), which is the explanation of the divine book Al-Qur'an. The Qur'anic verses related to economics have been explained by mufassirin (personalities doing exegesis) as an integral part of the Qur'anic code of human life. A good number of books of Tafsir is available containing discussions on relevant economic matters. For instance, discussions on the prohibition of interest,1 encouragement of economic activities for human welfare,2 and so on.
Second, discussions of economic issues in the discipline of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). The legal aspects of economic problems, along with other Shari'ah matters, have been analyzed by the great jurists of Islam in the books of Fiqh. For example, the legal aspects of mudarabah and musharakah have been dealt with in this discipline in some great detail.3
Third, the great Islamic personalities discussed economic matters in the context of ethical system of Islam for moral development. This analysis is different from the juristic analysis of economic matters in that the latter presents the legal status and limits while the former emphasizes the real spirit of Islam over and above legal limits, guiding man towards the most desirable economic behavior of human beings. The works of ulama, sufis, Islamic philosophers and Islamic reformers (mujaddidin) come under this category.