IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

An Economic Explication of the Prohibition of Gharar in Classical Islamic Jurisprudence



The forbidden bay[ al-gharar can best be translated as “trading in risk”. Any trade would involve some degree of trading in risk. Jurists disagree over whether a specific contract is forbidden or not based on their varying assessments of whether the amount of risk is substantial or small. Moreover, the prohibition can be waived in cases where clear economic benefit can only be served by a contract that includes substantial trading in risk. We show that “trading in risk” is generally inefficient relative to other forms of risk sharing. Hence, if a contract can increase economic efficiency through some form of risk transfer, the prohibition of trading in risk should be applicable. Cases where such a prohibition is moot because the risk-trading instrument is not used, do not affect this general conclusion. In cases where trading in risk is inherent in the contract, but where the contract is important to meet economic needs (e.g. salam), the analysis is still useful in two regards: (i) we can consider whether or not there is a risk sharing mechanism which can reduce part of the inherent trading in risk, and (ii) we should consider such alternatives if secondary tools for managing the resulting risk are sought.

Suggested Citation

  • A. El-Gamal, Mahmoud, 2001. "An Economic Explication of the Prohibition of Gharar in Classical Islamic Jurisprudence," Islamic Economic Studies, The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), vol. 8, pages 29-58.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:isecst:0142

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "The law of large numbers with a continuum of IID random variables," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 19-25, February.
    2. Stephen A. Ross, 2013. "The Arbitrage Theory of Capital Asset Pricing," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Leonard C MacLean & William T Ziemba (ed.), HANDBOOK OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING Part I, chapter 1, pages 11-30, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. J. Tobin, 1958. "Liquidity Preference as Behavior Towards Risk," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 65-86.
    4. Allan H. Meltzer, 1967. "Major Issues in the Regulation of Financial Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 482-482.
    5. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, March.
    6. Hirsch, Fred, 1977. "The Bagehot Problem," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 45(3), pages 241-257, September.
    7. Gur Huberman, 2005. "A Simple Approach to Arbitrage Pricing Theory," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Sudipto Bhattacharya & George M Constantinides (ed.), Theory Of Valuation, chapter 9, pages 289-308, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    8. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1983. "Arbitrage, Factor Structure, and Mean-Variance Analysis on Large Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1281-1304, September.
    9. William F. Sharpe, 1964. "Capital Asset Prices: A Theory Of Market Equilibrium Under Conditions Of Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 19(3), pages 425-442, September.
    10. Chamberlain, Gary, 1983. "Funds, Factors, and Diversification in Arbitrage Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1305-1323, September.
    11. Samuelson, Paul A., 1967. "General Proof that Diversification Pays*," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-13, March.
    12. Hal Varian, 1993. "A Portfolio of Nobel Laureates: Markowitz, Miller and Sharpe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 159-169, Winter.
    13. Feldman, Mark & Gilles, Christian, 1985. "An expository note on individual risk without aggregate uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 26-32, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Boudt, Kris & Raza, Muhammad Wajid & Wauters, Marjan, 2019. "Evaluating the Shariah-compliance of equity portfolios: The weighting method matters," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 406-417.
    2. Balcılar, Mehmet & Demirer, Rıza & Hammoudeh, Shawkat, 2015. "Global risk exposures and industry diversification with Shariah-compliant equity sectors," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 35(PB), pages 499-520.
    3. Riaz, Umair & Burton, Bruce & Monk, Lissa, 2017. "Perceptions on Islamic banking in the UK—Potentialities for empowerment, challenges and the role of scholars," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 39-60.
    4. Karbhari, Yusuf & Muye, Ibrahim & Hassan, Ahmad Fahmi S. & Elnahass, Marwa, 2018. "Governance mechanisms and efficiency: Evidence from an alternative insurance (Takaful) market," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 71-92.
    5. Mohamed Wail Aaminou & Rajae Aboulaich, 2017. "Modeling Consumers’ Behavior in New Dual Banking Markets: The Case of Morocco," Review of Pacific Basin Financial Markets and Policies (RPBFMP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(02), pages 1-24, June.
    6. Waheed Akhter & Saad Ullah Khan, 2017. "Determinants of Takāful and conventional insurance demand: A regional analysis," Cogent Economics & Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 1291150-129, January.
    7. Ahmed,Habib & Mohieldin,Mahmoud & Verbeek,Jos & Aboulmagd,Farida Wael, 2015. "On the sustainable development goals and the role of Islamic finance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7266, The World Bank.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Khan, M. Ali, 2000. "Globalization Of Financial Markets And Islamic Financial Institutions," Islamic Economic Studies, The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), vol. 8, pages 20-66.
    2. M. Ali Khan & Yeneng Sun, 1996. "Hyperfinite Asset Pricing Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1139, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    3. Gilles Boevi Koumou, 2020. "Diversification and portfolio theory: a review," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer;Swiss Society for Financial Market Research, vol. 34(3), pages 267-312, September.
    4. Khan, M. Ali & Sun, Yeneng, 2001. "Asymptotic Arbitrage and the APT with or without Measure-Theoretic Structures," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 222-251, November.
    5. Khan, M. Ali & Sun, Yeneng, 2003. "Exact arbitrage, well-diversified portfolios and asset pricing in large markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 337-373, June.
    6. repec:gnv:wpaper:unige:76321 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Patrick Gagliardini & Elisa Ossola & Olivier Scaillet, 2016. "Time‐Varying Risk Premium in Large Cross‐Sectional Equity Data Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 985-1046, May.
    8. Wolfgang Drobetz & Dirk Schilling & Lars Tegtmeier, 2010. "Common risk factors in the returns of shipping stocks," Maritime Policy & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 93-120, March.
    9. Nawalkha, Sanjay K., 1997. "A multibeta representation theorem for linear asset pricing theories," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 357-381, December.
    10. Sainan Jin & Liangjun Su & Yonghui Zhang, 2015. "Nonparametric testing for anomaly effects in empirical asset pricing models," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 9-36, February.
    11. Steven Kou & Xianhua Peng & Haowen Zhong, 2018. "Asset Pricing with Spatial Interaction," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(5), pages 2083-2101, May.
    12. Miller, Matthew Edward, 2003. "An economic perspective on Iowa farm diversification in the twentieth century," ISU General Staff Papers 2003010108000018194, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    13. Paul Munene Muiruri, 2014. "Effects of Estimating Systematic Risk in Equity Stocks in the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) (An Empirical Review of Systematic Risks Estimation)," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 4(4), pages 228-248, October.
    14. Lean, Hooi Hooi & McAleer, Michael & Wong, Wing-Keung, 2010. "Market efficiency of oil spot and futures: A mean-variance and stochastic dominance approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 979-986, September.
    15. M. Hossein Partovi, 2013. "Hedging and Leveraging: Principal Portfolios of the Capital Asset Pricing Model," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2930-2937.
    16. J. Piplack & M. Beine & B. Candelon, 2009. "Comovements of Returns and Volatility in International Stock Markets: A High-Frequency Approach," Working Papers 09-10, Utrecht School of Economics.
    17. Thomas J. Brennan & Andrew W. Lo, 2010. "Impossible Frontiers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(6), pages 905-923, June.
    18. David S. Jones & V. Vance Roley, 1981. "Bliss Points in Mean-Variance Portfolio Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Zura Kakushadze & Willie Yu, 2016. "Multifactor Risk Models and Heterotic CAPM," Papers 1602.04902,, revised Mar 2016.
    20. Jack S. K. Chang & Jean C. H. Loo & Carolyn C. Wu Chang, 1990. "The Pricing Of Futures Contracts And The Arbitrage Pricing Theory," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 13(4), pages 297-306, December.
    21. Sentana, Enrique, 2004. "Factor representing portfolios in large asset markets," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 257-289, April.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ris:isecst:0142. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: IRTI Staff or (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.