Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explain why the two most pious Muslim groups in West Africa – the Mourides of Senegal and the Pula Futa of Guinea – are also the most economically dominant. Design/methodology/approach – This question has typically been explained using the ideas of Max Weber, who suggests that the capitalist spirit arose because of the personal characteristics created by Calvinism. This paper looks at a Weberian explanation, adopted to Islam, and also an explanation that is rooted in pure political and economic history. Findings – It is concluded that the Weberian explanation is germane to the case of the Mourides in Senegal, but does a poor job explaining the economic dominance of the Pula Futa. By contrast, while the economic and political history is important for the economic rise of the Mourides, it seems to account for almost the entire success of the Pula Futa. Originality/value – These findings are important because they are a reminder of the heterogeneity between both ethnic and religious groups, both in their religious practice and in their economic affairs. The effects of religion, politics, and culture are not uniform for different sects, nations, and ethnic groups. If there is a desire to market to Muslims, develop programs for economic development, or engage in any economic work within Islamic cultures, there is a need to take such heterogeneity into account.
Journal of Islamic Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2010
Keywords: Islam; International business; West Africa; Applied economics; Social groups
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