Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Islam and Every Day Life: Public Policy Dilemmas


Labor law officially defines relationships between employers and employees and the formal constraints under which each group operates, such as how much leeway managers have in hiring and firing employees, and how much freedom workers have to organize collectively. These relations are at the core of the productive processes that sustain society. Further, through the presence or absence of specific codes regulating the employment of women and children, labor legislation provides clues to the economic underpinnings of gender and family relations within a country. In reality, the codes may not be fully enforced, or may be enforced selectively by sector or firm size. By the same token, certain unmodified "laws" may operate in practice. However, the formal legislation serves as an indication of the image a government seeks to project to its own citizens and to the international community.

This paper explores the range of ways in which Islamists define the capital-labor relationship, how those interpretations have influenced the prevailing labor legislation in countries ruled by explicitly “Islamic” regimes, and what influence Islamist movements might have on labor law in predominantly Muslim countries where secular governments now rule.

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© Karen Pfeifer


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript from chapter 5 in Sohrab Behdad and Farhad Nomani, eds, Islam and Every Day Life: Public Policy Dilemmas, London: Routledge Curzon Press 2006

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