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Biofuels ethanol

Published on February 20th, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Sheik Says Biofuels Are Prohibited by Islam

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February 20th, 2009 by
 

Biofuels may have hit an unexpected roadblock with a pronouncement by Sheik Mohamed al-Najimi of the Saudi Islamic Jurisprudence Academy that the fuel may be prohibited by Islam. According to al-Najimi, the prophet Muhammad prohibited the buying, selling, transporting, drinking, and manufacturing of alcohol – including the ethyl alcohol present in ethanol.

If other religious leaders take al-Najimi’s opinion seriously, biofuel could be banned in Muslim countries that currently disallow alcohol. That means Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, and Sudan could potentially become biofuel-free zones.

While al-Najimi says that his recommendation should not be considered a fatwa (a legal pronouncement in Islam), he does believe that restriction of biofuels should go beyond Muslim countries to include Muslims around the world.

Photo CC-Licensed by xeni

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • http://level30.shotblogs.com/ CANDIDA

    Hey! Good idea, but might this actually do the job?

  • http://level30.shotblogs.com/ CANDIDA

    Hey! Good idea, but might this actually do the job?

  • James

    Ethanol = Alcohol

    Biodiesel = not Alcohol

    Why is ethanol considered the only biofuel? Its the worst alternative, yet we want it to solve our problems….

  • James

    Ethanol = Alcohol

    Biodiesel = not Alcohol

    Why is ethanol considered the only biofuel? Its the worst alternative, yet we want it to solve our problems….

  • Michael

    All we need to do is make alternative energies of every kind cheaper and more available to everyone…when that happens, this and other neanderthal types of thinking just go away…

  • Michael

    All we need to do is make alternative energies of every kind cheaper and more available to everyone…when that happens, this and other neanderthal types of thinking just go away…

  • http://scalarparty.livejournal.com lee

    That sheik oughta look at what it says in the Koran about how people who pollute the water are KAFFARS. That means that they ought to be stoned to death. Anyone who pollutes the waters! Now can the Sheik or anyone in the oh so religulous world explain to the class, how one can extract petroleum (let alone burn it) without polluting any water? I’m not even talking about poor Valdez, but every drop of water that’s polluted….

    And then tell me this: Do hospitals in Saudi Arabia use alcohol? Even to dab on the skin before a needle? Or is that also against Allah?

    Sheesh! Once again we see that Allah JC and YHVH belong in the same box as Zeus, Poseidon, Odin, Loki, Baal, and the rest of grandma’s tales. Then hopefully we can evolve and deal with our situation…

  • http://scalarparty.livejournal.com lee

    That sheik oughta look at what it says in the Koran about how people who pollute the water are KAFFARS. That means that they ought to be stoned to death. Anyone who pollutes the waters! Now can the Sheik or anyone in the oh so religulous world explain to the class, how one can extract petroleum (let alone burn it) without polluting any water? I’m not even talking about poor Valdez, but every drop of water that’s polluted….

    And then tell me this: Do hospitals in Saudi Arabia use alcohol? Even to dab on the skin before a needle? Or is that also against Allah?

    Sheesh! Once again we see that Allah JC and YHVH belong in the same box as Zeus, Poseidon, Odin, Loki, Baal, and the rest of grandma’s tales. Then hopefully we can evolve and deal with our situation…

  • Anonymous

    So are bacteria and yeasts prohibited also? Because they produce alcohol. So what do they use in hospitals and biology labs?

  • Anonymous

    So are bacteria and yeasts prohibited also? Because they produce alcohol. So what do they use in hospitals and biology labs?

  • Tedward

    Hurm, Ethanol can be fractionally distilled out of crude oil. And since the distillation process can’t remove it all, there’s no guarantee that any petrol-fuel is entirely bereft of ethanol. I declare a Fatwa against crude oil!

  • Tedward

    Hurm, Ethanol can be fractionally distilled out of crude oil. And since the distillation process can’t remove it all, there’s no guarantee that any petrol-fuel is entirely bereft of ethanol. I declare a Fatwa against crude oil!

  • http://molvray.com/acid-test quixote

    Biofuels are non-Islamic? Is that for real? Or is this some web hoax to see how much we’ll believe?

    If it is for real, then all of us making fun of Islam don’t have to do a thing. Islamic clerics are doing a great job of it without any help.

  • http://molvray.com/acid-test quixote

    Biofuels are non-Islamic? Is that for real? Or is this some web hoax to see how much we’ll believe?

    If it is for real, then all of us making fun of Islam don’t have to do a thing. Islamic clerics are doing a great job of it without any help.

  • samson

    okhan, with all due respect to the religion itself, it does not take an expert to tell that this is a political move, not a religious one. Maybe it’s time for the truly pious people to stand up and stop the abuse of your religion for political purposes, which all religions practice but Islam excells in.

  • samson

    okhan, with all due respect to the religion itself, it does not take an expert to tell that this is a political move, not a religious one. Maybe it’s time for the truly pious people to stand up and stop the abuse of your religion for political purposes, which all religions practice but Islam excells in.

  • C.C.

    Taking a page from Rockefeller and his $4 million donation to the Christian Women’s Temperance Movement, which allowed Rockefeller to shut down the ethanol fuel industry right as the internal combustion engine began to boom – and by Prohibition’s end in 1937, cheap oil and the huge East Texas and Southern California discoveries had locked out farm ethanol for good – plus the farmers had largely been foreclosed on by bankers like the Morgan firm, who were closely tied to Standard Oil.

    Why are they worried? Well, biofuels might replace 10% of U.S. fuel consumption, maximum.

    Have you seen what a 5% drop in demand does to the price of oil? Add in electric cars, natural gas trucks, and plug-in hybrids – that spells disaster for the Saudi Royals and their monthly allowances. They should look to Abu Dhabi for guidance and inspiration – they invest a good chunk of their oil profits in renewables. The same goes for Wall Street and London, in fact.

  • C.C.

    Taking a page from Rockefeller and his $4 million donation to the Christian Women’s Temperance Movement, which allowed Rockefeller to shut down the ethanol fuel industry right as the internal combustion engine began to boom – and by Prohibition’s end in 1937, cheap oil and the huge East Texas and Southern California discoveries had locked out farm ethanol for good – plus the farmers had largely been foreclosed on by bankers like the Morgan firm, who were closely tied to Standard Oil.

    Why are they worried? Well, biofuels might replace 10% of U.S. fuel consumption, maximum.

    Have you seen what a 5% drop in demand does to the price of oil? Add in electric cars, natural gas trucks, and plug-in hybrids – that spells disaster for the Saudi Royals and their monthly allowances. They should look to Abu Dhabi for guidance and inspiration – they invest a good chunk of their oil profits in renewables. The same goes for Wall Street and London, in fact.

  • Grace

    I am 100% sure that Muhammad prohibited alcohol for human ingestion…consumable/drinkable alcohol that could be used for the purpose of intoxication.

    If he would have prohibited sustainable “fuel”, that just so happens to be a form of alcohol, then he should not be listened to anyway. I sure hope that as many young and educated Muslim’s as possible speak up loudly around the world against this absurd interpretation of the religious prohibition.

    This is ridiculous.

    Why do religious people not realize that their prophets were basing their decisions on the technology and scientific information that was available in their time. I KNOW that these same prophets today would base their decisions , teachings, and laws on what is most humane today…based on current realities and information, not ancient realities and information.

  • Grace

    I am 100% sure that Muhammad prohibited alcohol for human ingestion…consumable/drinkable alcohol that could be used for the purpose of intoxication.

    If he would have prohibited sustainable “fuel”, that just so happens to be a form of alcohol, then he should not be listened to anyway. I sure hope that as many young and educated Muslim’s as possible speak up loudly around the world against this absurd interpretation of the religious prohibition.

    This is ridiculous.

    Why do religious people not realize that their prophets were basing their decisions on the technology and scientific information that was available in their time. I KNOW that these same prophets today would base their decisions , teachings, and laws on what is most humane today…based on current realities and information, not ancient realities and information.

  • okhan

    The purpose of the ban on the trade of alcohol was to prevent Muslims from drinking it. I’m sure Sheik al-Najimi is a reputable scholar, but it sounds like he’s missed the mark on this one. Islamic Jurisprudence is not a blind and rote process that produces literal results to the point of absurdity; the divine law is always understood in both spirit and letter before applied. Sheik al-Najimi has not followed the spirit of the law in pronouncing his ruling. As a Muslim, I would not hesitate to ignore this ruling.

    Those of you making fun of Islam should be ashamed of yourselves. You should not allow the pervading ignorance and fear to make you so prejudice.

  • okhan

    The purpose of the ban on the trade of alcohol was to prevent Muslims from drinking it. I’m sure Sheik al-Najimi is a reputable scholar, but it sounds like he’s missed the mark on this one. Islamic Jurisprudence is not a blind and rote process that produces literal results to the point of absurdity; the divine law is always understood in both spirit and letter before applied. Sheik al-Najimi has not followed the spirit of the law in pronouncing his ruling. As a Muslim, I would not hesitate to ignore this ruling.

    Those of you making fun of Islam should be ashamed of yourselves. You should not allow the pervading ignorance and fear to make you so prejudice.

  • blufindr

    Let me get this straight.

    He is in effect saying, “We don’t care about the environment, we don’t want to use this based on the words of a person who lived thousands of years ago, if he existed at all”?

    Nice.

  • blufindr

    Let me get this straight.

    He is in effect saying, “We don’t care about the environment, we don’t want to use this based on the words of a person who lived thousands of years ago, if he existed at all”?

    Nice.

  • Scott_T

    Wonder how Muhammad feels about biodeisel?

  • Scott_T

    Wonder how Muhammad feels about biodeisel?

  • http://solargreenenergy.blogspot.com Aziz

    Maybe the time has come to ban Islam and sharia? I would feel pretty good about that. Islam has nothing to offer beyond rigid restrictions and extreme penalties for breaking them.

    Maybe Muslims would lighten up if they had a drink or smoke once in a while. They live largely in desert areas – maybe solar energy would be good for them? Or algae based biofuels – that would grow quite well in Saudi Arabia all year round.

  • http://solargreenenergy.blogspot.com Aziz

    Maybe the time has come to ban Islam and sharia? I would feel pretty good about that. Islam has nothing to offer beyond rigid restrictions and extreme penalties for breaking them.

    Maybe Muslims would lighten up if they had a drink or smoke once in a while. They live largely in desert areas – maybe solar energy would be good for them? Or algae based biofuels – that would grow quite well in Saudi Arabia all year round.

  • Fubar

    You’re kidding, right? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The passages regarding alchohol are obviously intended to prevent the consumable type! Bio-fuel is as poisonous as regular gasoline. I agree with Jo on this one, that this is a political ploy intended to benefit the petroleum industry.

  • Fubar

    You’re kidding, right? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The passages regarding alchohol are obviously intended to prevent the consumable type! Bio-fuel is as poisonous as regular gasoline. I agree with Jo on this one, that this is a political ploy intended to benefit the petroleum industry.

  • Kendall

    Coming from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer–who produce nothing else of value, this has zero credibility, It only demonstrates how closely the Saudi royal family run and control the kingdom for its own benefit.

  • Kendall

    Coming from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer–who produce nothing else of value, this has zero credibility, It only demonstrates how closely the Saudi royal family run and control the kingdom for its own benefit.

  • jCh

    I wonder what the sheik thinks about this?

    http://www.usoilshale.com/index.php/ENERGY-INDEPENDANCE.html

  • jCh

    I wonder what the sheik thinks about this?

    http://www.usoilshale.com/index.php/ENERGY-INDEPENDANCE.html

  • Matt

    Biofuels join the list of EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD that has been pronounced to be banned by Islam.

  • Matt

    Biofuels join the list of EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD that has been pronounced to be banned by Islam.

  • http://sunshinesupercars.blogspot.com Jo

    How conveeeeeenient!

    I’m not saying that there aren’t truly devoted Islamic leaders who may be genuiely concerned about these issues, but I *AM* saying that widespread adoption of this idea would keep OPEC and fossil fuels on the table for many more decades to come … and that, in my opinion, this seems more of a political move than anything else.

  • http://sunshinesupercars.blogspot.com Jo

    How conveeeeeenient!

    I’m not saying that there aren’t truly devoted Islamic leaders who may be genuiely concerned about these issues, but I *AM* saying that widespread adoption of this idea would keep OPEC and fossil fuels on the table for many more decades to come … and that, in my opinion, this seems more of a political move than anything else.

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