European Business Organization Law Review


Islamic Perspectives on the Law of Business Organisations I: An Overview of the Classical Sharia and a Brief Comparison of the Sharia Regimes with Western-Style Law

Nicholas H.D. Fostera1*

a1 School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.


Recent events and trends have led to an increased awareness of the importance of Islamic law and a more widespread interest in the subject. However, many areas remain relatively inaccessible, including the law of business associations. The aim of this and a subsequent article is to alleviate this situation somewhat by providing a general introduction to Islamic perspectives on this area.

This article provides an overview of the classical sharia, looking at three Sunni schools by way of example, plus a brief comparison with Western-style law. The second article will consider the replacement of the sharia regimes in the Middle East and the interaction of the sharia with Western-style law in Muslim-majority jurisdictions and elsewhere.


  • Islamic law;
  • sharia;
  • sharika;
  • mudaraba;
  • business associations;
  • partnerships;
  • comparative law;
  • legal history


* Many thanks to the Editorial Board of this journal for commissioning the articles. The author is particularly grateful to the journal's Editor-in-Chief, Dr Rainer Kulms, for his good-humoured patience during the articles' very long gestation period and for his editorial comments. Many thanks also to an anonymous reviewer, Peter Muchlinski and Alexandra Foster Vander Elst for helpful comments. The usual caveat applies. Translations of Koranic passages are from M. Pickthall, The Glorious Koran: A Bilingual Edition with English Translation, Introduction and Notes (London, Allen and Unwin 1976). As the articles are intended for a non-specialist audience, a simplified transliteration system has been used and the plural of Arabic words is created in English fashion by adding ‘s’. For ease of typography and reading, the full transliteration used in some quotations has not been retained. Dates are AD unless otherwise specified.