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Differences in Business Practices in Islamic Countries Compared to the United States Essay

The purpose of this paper is to give professionals working in Islamic countries a better understanding of the business system in those countries. The Islamic world may be complex as its 1.3 billion people, but there is one rule is straightforward for all Westerners and should never be broken if you want to do business in this area.

“One thing you do not bring up is the Palestinian-Israeli situation.” Advised Samuel L. Hayes III, an expert on Islamic finance and an emeritus professor of investment banking at Harvard Business School. (Lagace, 2002)

Business people, particularly Westerners who work in this region of the world or do business with an Islamic business person, need to understand the extent to which religion and Islamic law are intertwined at all levels of society, including commerce, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the country. “This law is seen as deriving from direct, divine command.” Said Vogel. “This is important to grasp.” (Lagace, 2002)

Keywords: Koran, Islamic Law, Islamic World

When doing business within an Islamic country you must understand the basic tenets of the Islamic religion as it relates to commerce. Knowing this you will have an easier time abroad. Contracts should be fair to all parties. A partnership is preferred over hierarchical claims. (Lagace, 2002)

Any type of speculation is prohibited. There is no gambling. “For instance, if you invested in an Islamic mutual fund, among those industries which would be barred from representation as funds would be the gambling industry. But gambling also relates to futures to currency hedging; so it’s a major situation that you have to be aware of” (Lagace, 2002) this is also found in the Qur’an. “O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. Eschew such abomination, that you may prosper” (Qur’an 5:90).

Interest is prohibited. “Those who devour usury will not stand….Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury…. Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity…” (Qur’an 2:275-6). “O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied. But fear Allah, that you may really prosper” (Qur’an 3:130) this isn’t always practiced, but it is the theory.

Compassion is required when a business is in trouble. “Those who devour usury cannot stand…. That is because they say, trade is only like usury; yet Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury…. Allah does not bless usury, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner. Oh you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and relinquish what remains due from usury, if you are believers. If the debtor is in difficulty, grant him time until it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if you only knew.” Qur’an 2:275-280

In conclusion, there are basic rules when dealing in an Islamic country that must be followed. Never mention the Palestinian-Israeli situation. Speak English when making deals; this is a status for them to speak English. Send a woman to do a man’s job. Appreciate the intertwining of religion and Islamic law. Show compassion for a business in trouble. (Coady, 2013)

These basic principles that the Islamic countries follow are not the bias principles that we here in the States follow. We are taught to make a profit and anything much less is a failure in the business world. We must understand to do business with other countries, especially Islamic countries where religion and business go hand and hand we sometimes have to forget our ways and be flexible. When in Rome, do as the Romans.


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