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Dr. Ryan Calder from John Hopkins University delivers a talk at KSBL

Dr. Ryan Calder – Assistant Professor Sociology & Islamic Studies at Johns Hopkins University visited #KSBL to deliver a talk on “Why is there no other religious finance (besides Islamic finance)?” – The problem of usury in comparative-historical perspective.

ABSTRACT: Islamic finance is today a US$2 trillion global industry. Yet there is no comparable Christian-finance industry, Hindu-finance industry, or so on. Why not? The simple answer is that Islam bans interest while other religions do not. Yet 500 years ago, other religions – especially the Abrahamic faiths – also had very intense bans on interest. This talk will explore why those other bans disappeared. I argue that the survival of the interest ban depends on the survival of religious jurists, such as the fuqahāʾ or shariah scholars in Islam and canonists in Christianity. Religious jurists maintained their social importance in Islam into the current era and became the main ethical arbiters of Islamic finance. However, religious jurists’ importance declined dramatically in other faiths between the 16th century and the present. Exploring the reasons for this, the talk romps through over 2,000 years of religious attitudes toward money.

Prof. Calder is interviewing shariah scholars and Islamic bankers around the world for a forthcoming academic book on Islamic finance (expected publication date 2019). He is interested in understanding the underpinnings of Islamic finance in Islamic economic ethics, fiqh al-mu‘āmalāt, and the intellectual tradition of shariah scholarship around the world.

To date, he has spoken with a number of international scholars, including Sheikh Nizam Yaquby of Bahrain, Mufti Abdul Kadir Barkatullah of the UK, and Prof. Engku Rabiah and Prof. Mohamad Akram Laldin of Malaysia. He has also interviewed practitioners and academics such as Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Rafe Haneef, Rushdi Siddiqui, Humayon Dar, and Stella Cox.

Prof. Calder holds a B.A. from Harvard University (magna cum laude with highest honors in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies) and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (Sociology). Before entering academia, he worked for McKinsey & Company as a business analyst. He speaks Japanese, Arabic, and French.

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