This paper aims to investigate the subject matter of Islamic economics that will be the object of a study as a discipline by classifying and unifying different approaches proposed by Islamic economists.
The paper is a conceptual paper using discursive analysis analysing the perspective and approaches proposed by Islamic economists in defining economic problems from an Islamic perspective. The perspective and approaches proposed are classified and analysed for their implications in constructing the subject matter of discipline.
Islamic economics, as a new body of knowledge, needs to clarify the economic problems that will be its subject matter. The paper brings an insight into the subject matter of Islamic economics as conceived by scholars in two approaches, namely, economic problems “as they are” and economic problems “as they should be”. The paper also proposes a unified perspective in defining the subject matter of Islamic economics for further development of the discipline.
This paper only provides philosophical guidance for researchers in mapping the problems and the goals of the policy being studied, although it does not offer any practical use for policymaking as each policy is faced with different and specific cases. This paper may be used to assist future researchers in shaping other unexplored fields in Islamic economics as a body of knowledge.
Islamic economics as a discipline will be strengthened if it has a clear subject matter that will be the object of study. However, the conception of economic problems proposed by Islamic economists is based on life-reality, i.e. of what human beings face in their life (practical-type economic problems as they are) and based on life guidance from the Qur’an on how human beings should live as well as life-objectives, i.e. of what goals he should strive for (ideal-type economic problems as they ought to be) brings implication that there are differences in determining the object of study of Islamic economics.
This paper promotes the unification of two conceptions of economic problems proposed by scholars by defining Islamic economics as “a study of resource appropriation to realize human well-being (maslahah)”. This suggests that economic problems as manifested in life reality will be studied within the grand objective of life in Islam (maqasid al-Shariah), and economic problems as perceived in life goals will be studied in the context of life reality. Islamic economic theory will be formulated not only to solve the apparent problem of “what is” but also formulated in a way that refers to goals (ideals) of “what ought to be” that will provide solutions to current economic problems according to certain vision and to take steps to move in that visionary direction.