Book reviews 'Timur Kuran. The long divergence: how Islamic law held back the Middle East'
Timur Kuran is an avid reader of Islamic economic and legal history and an immensely well informed scholar. This latest work not only combines his earlier arguments but also provides some new perspectives. The gist of Kuran's arguments is the following (p. 281) - 1. In its early centuries Islam developed a law of contracts that was sophisticated for the time; 2. This law allowed passive investors to shield their personal assets while … however, active partners carried full liability; 3. The death of a partner terminated the partnership automatically; 4. Due to the Islamic inheritance law and polygamy the numbers of heirs could be large; 5. The partnership termination rule, like the lack of entity shielding, discouraged the formation of large and long-lived partnerships. Successful businesses quickly disappeared and rarely survived the death of their founders; 6. The evolution from simple partnerships to the corporation never took place; 7. Thus several self-enforcing elements of Islamic law — contracts, inheritance system, marriage regulations — jointly contributed to the stagnation of the Middle East.
Cizakca, Murat. (2011). Book reviews 'Timur Kuran. The long divergence: how Islamic law held back the Middle East'. Review of Middle East Studies, 45, pp. 117-119.