I’ve been requested by a number of readers to advise them on the best books to read as a beginner in the field of Islamic finance. To come up with an Islamic finance 101 book list so to speak.
That’s a pretty difficult task.
The reason is Islamic finance is actually at the intersection of a number of different disciplines of which you need to have at least some working knowledge for it to all make sense. These are primarily: Islamic financial law, Islamic economics, Islamic finance, mainstream finance, and mainstream economics.
So what I’ve done is given a few introductory books on each area, explained where it fits in, and highlighted particular books as “must-buys”.
Overviews to the whole topic
1. Islamic Finance: What it is and what it could be – this is a superb book, a pity its currently so expensive. But if you’re serious about Islamic finance or studying it, it’ll be invaluable.
2. Islamic Finance in a Nutshell – this is a solid entry point for those coming to the topic completely cold.
BUY either one of these. If you buy (1) then you pretty much don’t need to buy anything else apart from the wider economics books.
Islamic law & Islamic financial law
1. Financial Transactions in Islamic Jurisprudence [Free PDF for Vol 1 & Vol 2] – this book is a must-have for anyone working in the industry and any researcher. A comprehensive summary of all the major schools’ views on key contractual structures.
2. Principle of Islamic Jurisprudence – A highly erudite piece of work on the theory and practice of Islamic jurisprudence.
1. Islamic Finance: Law, Economics, and Practice – A critical look at the whole industry by a well-respected academic.
2. The Problem with Interest – This is a very solid argument by an experienced and intelligent writer in this field.
3. Economic Concepts of Ibn Taimiyah – This book caught my eye as I was writing this and looks very interesting. I haven’t actually read it though, so let me know how you get on.
BUY one of these, then look at footnotes and see what catches your interest.
Wider introduction to economics
1. The Truth About Markets – A very interesting and easy-to-read introduction into mainstream economics and recent economic history.
2. The Undercover Economist – A funny, light, and easy-to-read introduction into how economic theory practically works.
3. Debt: The first 500 years – I’m reading this right now, and I highly recommend this. Absolutely fascinating insight into how our world ended up where it is.
4. Know The City – This is a nice solid introduction into how high finance actually works, who does what, and what the jargon terms mean. Very useful little book.
5. The website www.positivemoney.org is also a great resource.
Buy 1-2 of these. Really nice easy way of learning a lot of economics and finance basics. I particularly recommend The Undercover Economist, and Know the City, but to be honest I love the other two by Kay and Graeber too. Buy them all if you can afford it!
More Serious Economics books (for more serious, mathsy people)
1. Macroeconomics: Imperfections, Institutions, and Policies – This is the go-to macroeconomic textbook for leading universities across the world, and I know for sure it was highly recommended at Oxford. I ended up selling mine after university but I’m actually going to buy this again!
2. Microeconomics: Theory and Applications – The go-to book for introductory microeconomics at top unis again.
Only buy these if you’re solid with maths, and want to go into this very deeply.
So there you are folks, let me know how you get on inshAllah!