Birth of Islam and Market Economy

Economist Benedikt Koehler’s Book
Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism
is published in Turkish
by Liberte Books

Association for Liberal Thinking welcomes
Dr. Benedikt Koehler
in Istanbul to discuss on his book

Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism proposes a strikingly original thesis—that capitalism first emerged in Arabia, not in late medieval Italian city states as is commonly assumed.
Early Islam made a seminal but largely unrecognized contribution to the history of economic thought; it is the only religion founded by an entrepreneur. Descending from an elite dynasty of religious, civil, and commercial leaders, Muhammad was a successful businessman before founding Islam. As such, the new religion had much to say on trade, consumer protection, business ethics, and property. As Islam rapidly spread across the region so did the economic teachings of early Islam, which eventually made their way to Europe.

Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism demonstrates how Islamic institutions and business practices were adopted and adapted in Venice and Genoa. These financial innovations include the invention of the corporation, business management techniques, commercial arithmetic, and monetary reform. There were other Islamic institutions assimilated in Europe: charities, the waqf, inspired trusts, and institutions of higher learning; the madrasas were models for the oldest colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. As such, it can be rightfully said that these essential aspects of capitalist thought all have Islamic roots.

Read some short articles by Benedikt Koehler:

Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism

Islam and free markets: Can They Co-exist?


About the Speakers of the Panel:

Dr. Benedikt Koehler is the author of biographies of the political philosopher Adam Müller and of the liberal reformer Ludwig Bamberger. He has been publishing articles in academic journals on Islamic economics since 2011. He graduated in history from Yale University (USA), was a Fulbright Scholar at Universität Tübingen (Germany) where he earned a Ph.D in German Literature, and has an MSc in Economics from City University in London. His work on Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism was supported by the Liberty Fund (USA) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (UK).

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hasan Yücel Başdemir is Faculty member at Yıldırım Beyazıt University of Islamic Sciences. Basdemir is graduated from Ankara University Divinity Faculty, did his graduate theses on Understanding of John Stuart Mill on Liberty, and completed his PhD on the Moral Foundations of Liberalism. Apart from his PhD title he has published collections of essays on The Problem of Knowledge in Contemporary Epistemology, Religious Freedom and Secularism in Turkey (all in Turkish) He is Board Member of Quarterly Liberal Thought and editor of Liberte Publications.


Hakan Şahin is a research assistant at Istanbul Commerce University. Sahin studied computer engineering at Gebze Technological Institute and divinity at Istanbul University. He completed his MA on business management at Fatih University. He is doing his PhD Studies concurrently on management and organization at Istanbul Commerce University and on Islamic economics and finance at Istanbul University. Sahin worked as a general secretary at Suleymaniye Foundation, and as project manager and communications system manager at various private companies. Sahin lectures and publishes on Islam and free market economy; natural rights, civil society, as well as the history of money and banking and runs related ALT seminars.

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