Unethical Shariah Compliant Holdings

Assalamu Alaykum Mufti Faraz

I understand that you sit on the shari’ah board at Wahed Invest.

I have contacted Wahed Invest by e-mail over a year ago, in relation to my serious ethics concerns on three holdings included in the iShares MSCI Equities Security that is used in all investment options available. I received an unclear and unsatisfactory response. Please find my evidence below with regards to unethical investments currently available to invest in with Wahed- could you please clarify why these continue to be deemed ethical and shariah compliant, and what purification/remediation measures are taken?

  1. Nestle- Nestle owns 100% of Osem Ltd, one of the largest food manufacturers in Israel [1]. Its major manufacturing sites include one in Sderot [2]. Sderot is built upon the land of the Palestinian village of Najd, whose 422 Muslim inhabitants were forcibly expelled by Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, along with inhabitants of the nearby Palestinian village of Huj. These Palestinians were expelled to Gaza. Today, more than 6000 descendants of the village of Huj are still refugees in Gaza [3].

  2. HP- HP co-operates closely with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It originally developed the software for major checkpoints placed around Israel to severely limit the movement of Palestinians [4]. Palestinians are subject to inhumane conditions and are humiliated on a daily basis due to such checkpoints [5]. This is in breach of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement…within the borders of each state.”

Now operating in Israel as a partnership between HP Inc and DXC Technology, it is responsible for developing Bio-metric scanners and IDs and works with the Israeli Civil Administration to hinder Palestinians from obtaining building permits, thereby facilitating home demolitions in the West Bank [6]. The scale of HP’s involvement in Israel cannot be understated- it was awarded contracts worth $200 million by the Israeli government over a period of five years up to 2016 [7].

  1. Intel- Intel employs more than 10,000 people in Israel, and as such is the largest private sector employer in Israel [8] [9]. Its exports from Israel totalled $4 billion in 2018 [10]. Yet, its largest manufacturing plant, located in Kiryat Gat, is on the site of Iraq al-Manshiyya, a Palestinian Arab village, whose inhabitants were intimidated and forced to leave in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war [11]. In January 2019, Intel announced its intention to invest $11 billion in Israel, at Kiryat Gat.

These irrefutable evidences clearly show that investing in any of these three companies contributes towards the devastating oppression and suffering of Palestinians. Both Israeli settlements quoted above are illegal settlements built on Palestinian land as defined by UN Resolution 181 [12]. A strong and united boycott of Israel is necessary to end the apartheid and murder at the hands of Israel. This must be the case, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

I urge Wahed Invest’s Ethical Review Board to review this and immediately divest from the iShares MSCI Equities Security Fund. Until such time, I will continue to campaign on your social platforms.

[1] https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-osem-investments-m-a-nestle/nestle-to-buy-rest-of-israeli-foodmaker-osem-for-840-million-idUKKCN0VD15R
[2] https://www.osem.co.il/en/factory/sderot-factory/
[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-suffering-of-sderot-how-its-true-inhabitants-were-wiped-from-israels-maps-and-memories-8348734.html
[4] https://www.palestinecampaign.org/case-hewlett-packard/
[5] https://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/how-israel-privatized-its-occupation-palestine
[6]https://whoprofits.org/updates/what-we-know-about-hp-so-far/
[7] https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/israel-awarded-8-1-billion-in-contracts-without-tender-in-5-years-1.5411345
[8] https://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/corporate-responsibility/intel-in-israel.html
[9] http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/37947-Intel-Israel-s-Largest-Private-Sector-Employer-Pressed-To-Set-Fair-Employment-Standard
[10] https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-israel-intel-spending/israel-intel-agree-to-reciprocal-spending-deal-ministry-idUKKCN1PO152
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_al-Manshiyya
[12] https://www.britannica.com/topic/United-Nations-Resolution-181

Assalaamu alaykum,

Kindly email Wahed Invest and they will forward this to the Shariah board.

So while the example is quite specific and is naming a specific service/company.

I guess a broader question is:

How is shariah compliance considered when it comes to a % of companies practices being unethical.

I guess its hard to talk without an example. Let’s use a simpler non-super charged one. E.g. Volkswagen. A fine global car company. Certain people dodged regulations. Disregarding other screening factors. How are such sad practices considered with shariah compliance?

1 Like

Wa alaykum salaam Mufti

I appreciate this is not Wahed’s website. I did however send this exact email to Wahed and received this reply a year ago:

Mar 25, 08:53 EDT

"Dear Nawaaz,

Thank you for getting in touch with us at Wahed!

Although Wahed has not taken any official position yet, we have tabled the issue of introducing screens cognizant of these divestment and boycott issues at our next Shariah Review Board meeting. While there is a larger conversation occurring in the Islamic Finance community with respect to how and on what objective standards investments in companies that have any income related to jurisdictions with ongoing or potential human rights abuses should be scrutinized, Wahed will act based on its own independent, professional judgement on how to address these matters. Even if no complete resolution is reached with respect to complete divestiture, it is likely that at fiscal year’s end, Wahed is will engage in a more critical effort of purification and remediation to deal with the income from any of these concerning holdings.

Kind regards,
Thanks"

This answer is unclear and does not alleviate my concerns with the investment strategy. I have emailed again a few months ago chasing this up and received no response- hence why I have resorted to asking you directly here. I have also resent the email to Wahed Invest today.

Barak’Allahu feek

Nawaaz

I would recommend detaching emotions from this issue as they can get in the way of a balanced/methodical approach which is necessary to drill down the details, study principles, apply a methodology for screening or purification. We all have conflicts that are close to heart.

The following is the key sentence that needs more research/guidelines.

Wa alaykum salaam brother,

You have done the right thing by approaching them. The question will be raised to the entire Shariah board to review.

Regards

1 Like

Thank you for your thoughts and replies, you’re right that we all have conflicts close to heart. As I have found platforms to trade in shares with no commission, I have been applying the shariah compliant calculations I have learned on this site, and building a portfolio manually. I do also review the list of stocks on the iShares MSCI World Islamic UCITS ETF as I appreciate they follow the same rules, despite them including certain companies whose ethics I disagree with.

All the best brother.

1 Like