The chapter illustrates contestations over the definition of Islamic finance by describing conflicting opinions among experts about what makes Islamic finance Islamic. It focuses on two main definitions of Islamic finance by showing how industry professionals and many shariah scholars defined Islamic finance in formal terms, seeking to identify whether a financial device adequately conformed to scriptural prohibitions. In contrast, Islamic economists saw prohibitions in Islamic doctrine as surface manifestations of an implicit set of substantive economic principles, especially risk sharing. The chapter argues that these experts exercise an interpretive approach insofar as they seek to extract an authentic Islamic economic theory from Islamic texts and contrast it with conventional liberal economics.
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