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Islamic Finance | Q&A

What Is the Difference Between Jahalah and Gharar?

By definition, jahalah refers to ignorance or obscurity regarding the object of sale or price. In other words, it is the lack of knowledge about the specifics of an object, event, or action, in spit of knowledge about its occurrence. For example, from a Hanafi perspective, if the object of sale or price (thaman) is associated with major ignorance, leading to dispute (munaza'ah) between the parties to the contract, then the sale is rendered defective (ba'i fasid).

Jahalah is a special case of gharar. However, gharar is more general than jahalah. Necessarily, everything associated with jahalah is also considered to be containing gharar. Although jurists tend to associate jahalah with qualitative and quantitative uncertainty, while associating gharar with the existence or non-existence of the object of sale or exchange, the two terms are often used interchangeably to describe uncertainty in commutative contracts. Gharar and jahalah involve speculation as to the result of an action or event, as in the game of throwing a pebble to determine the actual object of sale to be exchanged between the parties against a price (or what is termed ba'i al-hasat).

Jahalah Gharar
A type of gharar. Its concept is narrower than gharar. It encompasses jahalah. Its concept is more general or wider.
Usually, it relates to quantitative and qualitative uncertainty. Typically, it is associated with the existence or non-existence of the object of sale or exchange.
Minor jahalah (jahalah yaseerah) may be excusable or forgivable. Minor gharar (gharar yaseer) may, also, be excusable or forgivable.
Excessive jahalah renders a commutative contract defective. Excessive gharar, also, renders a commutative contract defective.
Every jahalah that invalidates a commutative contract is necessarily a gharar. The opposite doesn't necessarily hold. That is, not every gharar that invalidates a commutative contract is necessarily a jahalah.

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