Hydroponics is radically changing agriculture around the
world, and one company has received a seal of approval from the Shariah
Supervisory Board (SBB), making its investment product an example of Shariah-compliant
Pegasus Agriculture is based out of Dubai and promotes the use of hydroponic farming operations across the Middle East and North Africa. The company was sanctioned by Islamic law under the leadership of BB, a renowned international Shariah scholar.
The SSB made its decision on June 3 after looking at not only
the operational details of the company, but also its finances.
“We're proud to be able to say that we adhere to these important Islamic principles.” Pegasus Agriculture Chairman Mahmood Almas said in a press statement. In the same report, Ebrahim Desai called Pegasus “a unique investment which allows investors the opportunity to earn solid sustainable returns while adhering to the ethical principles of Shariah Law.”
One principle of Shariah-complaint business practices is a prohibition on interest, which disqualifies many types of investment vehicles around the world. Another is the sharing of profits and losses among various parties. There are also certain standards regarding excess of speculation in markets. International business-services company PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that less than 1 percent of world's assets are Shariah-compliant.
So what does it take to really make something like agriculture Shariah-compliant?
Federico Gaon is an Argentinian with a degree in international relations from the University of Palermo, specializing in Middle Eastern legal affairs.
“Since Islam has never truly been reformed toward religiously condoned secularization (like Christianity in Western Europe, especially Protestantism), there is ample debate among Islamic scholars and jurists surrounding what is halal, or possible, and what is haram, or forbidden,” Gaon told Gulf News Journal. “Although one could say kindred discussions take place in other religions, this does not happen with the same intensity.”
Discussing the quixotic nature of this kind of religious application to modern-day realities, Gaon said there’s also the question of how liberally or strictly to apply Shariah law, or any other type of religious rule.
“Perhaps a good example is banking.” Gaon said. “There is no such thing as ‘Christian banking or finance,' yet the concept of Islamic banking is quite popular in the Muslim world. In other words, in Islam, everything modern is under scrutiny. Of course, from an economic standpoint, you could find 'progressive' scholars, and more conservative ones, prone to blocking productivity for the sake of purity, or tradition.”
Although Shariah might be a concept that’s generally hard to apply to the modern world with all of its unforeseen complexity, scholars are evidently able to accommodate the idea of hydroponic gardening, an idea that could help feed the world and give millions of people in different areas of the globe access to fresher, healthier produce. The recent ruling on one hydroponic company is a reassuring sign.