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Islamic finance and debt culture: treading the conventional path?

Mohammad Omar Farooq (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Bahrain, Bahrain)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 7 December 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the phenomenon of debt culture in the conventional financial systems and then to compare the existing or emerging trends in the Islamic finance industry. It provides critical insight into why economic policies that are delinked from some fundamental wisdom about sustainable lifestyle might be increasingly less effective.


The paper identifies various areas of impact of the debt culture and provides qualitative analysis based on relevant data.


The data presented in the paper shows that the Islamic finance industry is clearly biased in favor of debt-creating modes, which is expected to lead to promoting the same kind of debt culture as experienced in the conventional financial system.

Research limitations/implications

Finding comprehensive and current data for Islamic financial institutions is a challenging task. The IFIs are not as transparent as their conventional counterparts in sharing relevant data and information.

Practical implications

The paper highlights and analyzes a problem – i.e., the debt culture. Dealing with this problem would be indispensable in the long run for any credible as well as sustainable solutions to contemporary crisis.

Social implications

Debt culture is more than an economic phenomena. The paper identifies/analyzes several areas, including consumption explosion, speculation, ethics, that are related to debt culture.


This is probably the first research paper that looks into the issue of debt culture in the context of Islamic finance. The contemporary, ongoing global crisis underscores the kind of conventional problems that Islamic finance needs to avoid.



JEL Classification — H63

The author is grateful to an anonymous reviewer for valuable observations that have helped improve the paper and to Syed M. Islam (Minnesota, USA) for his editorial assistance.


Farooq, M.O. (2015), "Islamic finance and debt culture: treading the conventional path?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 42 No. 12, pp. 1168-1195.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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