chapter  5
10 Pages

Islam: Faith and Rationality

The central question from a Weberian perspective is the following: why did Islam fail to enhance a rationalisation similar to that of the Occident, which brought such advantages? What made Islam close the many roads towards the birth of modern capitalism? This is a proper question, because at the start Islam seemed well equipped. The ethical prophecy of Mohammed placed Islam in the same position as Judaism with Moses and Christianity with Paul. Its strict monotheism seems to better serve Islam than Christianity, which in its primitive and medieval versions propagated an economic ethics, nourished more by divine will than a rationalist ethics. In any case, Mohammed freed Islam from the intermediary of clerical institutions, which retarded the ethics of conviction up until Protestantism proclaimed the fundamental return to the scriptures. The same applies to the religion of the laymen, which is more flexible and less restrictive than a religion of priests or dogmatic theologians. Neither those in power nor the Church will stop the priests of the spirit intervening freely in the prayers. They could thus develop a religiosity that influences the conduct of life in such a way as to push people to organise their lives rather than expecting the clerical organisation to hand over to them the means of salvation, monopolising power and prestige.