Letters to the Editor

Shari'ah Compliant Insurance

Hasan Jamyl, via email

I am working in IT Department of an Insurance company in Saudi Arabia. This company claims that it is completely Shariah-compliant. I don’t know how far they are true in their statements. Is it permissible to work in such companies?


If you do not trust your company’s statements, because of their ambiguous or incomplete statements, then, you need to do some research in order to find what exactly is going on. Maybe you should speak to the accountants.

However, if you fail to elicit complete information, you may go by what the company officials state. If they assure you that it is run on Islamic principles, then go by their word. Unless you have compelling reasons to disbelieve, you may go by trust.

What are the Islamic rulings for Cooperative Insurance?


Islamic Cooperative Insurance, also called as Takaful companies, state that the following differences can be noticed between Takaful and Conventional Insurance:

(i).  CONVENTIONAL INSURANCE: It is a Risk Transfer mechanism whereby risk is transferred from the policy holder (the Insured) to the Insurance Company (the Insurer) in consideration of ‘insurance premium’ paid by the Insured.

TAKAFUL: It is based on mutuality; hence the risk is not transferred but shared by the participants who form a common pool. The Company acts only as the manager of the pool (Takaful Operator).

(ii).  CONVENTIONAL INSURANCE: It contains the element of uncertainty i.e. “gharrar” which is forbidden in Islam. There is an uncertainty as to when any loss would occur and how much compensation would be payable.

TAKAFUL: The element of ‘uncertainty’ i.e. ‘gharrar’ is brought down to acceptable levels under Shari`ah by making contributions as “Conditional Donations” (tabarru`) for a good cause i.e. to mitigate the loss suffered by any one of the participants.

(iii). CONVENTIONAL INSURANCE: It contains an element of gambling i.e. “maisir” in that the insured pays an amount (premium) in the expectation of gain (compensation/payment against claim). If the anticipated loss (claim) does not occur, the insured loses the amount paid as premium. If the loss does occur, the insurer loses a far larger amount than collected as premium and the insured gains by the same.

TAKAFUL:   The participant pays the contribution (tabarru`) in the spirit of purity and brotherhood; hence it obviates the element of ‘maisir’ while at the same time without losing the benefit of Takaful in the same way as conventional insurance.

(iv). CONVENTIONAL INSURANCE: Funds are mostly invested in fixed interest bearing instruments like bonds, TFCs, securities, etc. Hence these contain the element of “riba” (usury) which is forbidden in Islam.

TAKAFUL: Funds are only invested in non-interest bearing, i.e. riba-free instruments.

(v). CONVENTIONAL INSURANCE: Surplus or profit belongs to the Shareholders. The insured is covered during the policy period but is not entitled to any return at the end of such period.

TAKAFUL: Surplus belongs to the participants and is accordingly returned to them (in proportion to their respective shares of contributions) at the end of the accounting period.

Interest-free Economy

Shabbir Ahmed, via email

Apropos the article ‘Paradigms of Islamic Economics’: the detailed comparison of Islamic Economics and Modern Economics on twelve salient points is very impressive. I have the following queries:

Please advice how we as Muslims living in India under anti-Shari`ah laws of banking, insurance, sales tax, income tax, professional tax, service tax etc. can steadfastly observe IE, when everything around you is anti-Shari`ah? Unlike in Muslim countries where only Zakah is due and not any of the taxes as mentioned above (correct me if my understanding is wrong).


There is nothing of the above that is anti-Shari`ah, except banking and insurance.

Sales tax, income tax, professional tax, service tax, etc., are not anti-Shari`ah. Every citizen pays these taxes, or others, in most countries, including Muslim countries (except that from country the nomenclatures are change). Your understanding that there are no taxes in Muslim countries is incorrect. Nor is there anything wrong in an Islamic government charging taxes. How is a government of modern times to run without the populace paying taxes? Who but the public has to bear the costs of bureaucracy, government officials, administrators, service providers and others, but those who utilize the services, i.e., the public? If an Islamic government is set up, it will have to levy taxes.

It is the level of taxes and the services provided that are questionable. If the government elected is truly of the people, and for the people, (which is a paper dream that has never been fulfilled in any country, in any age), high taxes would not be levied but high services would be provided. But, in actual fact, what is happening is that the people do not truly elect the government, therefore, the governments take away, legally and illegally, a good amount of tax money for their own use, providing little service in return. So, this is the problem, not the taxes themselves.

Banks, on the other hand, are there for two reasons: loans, and business transactions. Loans of course are disallowed. As for other services, the bank charges some amount which is quite legitimate. Insurance is also ruled out. One may or may not insure his products; it is the individual’s choice.

On the whole, there doesn’t seem to be any anti-Shari`ah laws around, enforced on anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim. Islamic Economy then, can be practiced at the individual as well as community level, though not at the State level.

How can we change the situation in India to benefit Muslim brethren?


We do not have to change the situation in India, or change India itself. We have to change ourselves.

One of the things we have to do is to refuse to enter into any interest bearing transaction. It is a sure way of success in business, although of course we will have to stop expending tomorrow’s income today, but in reverse, re-invest today’s earning into tomorrow’s business. After success has been achieved at individual level, attempts can be made to do business, set up industries, etc., at corporate level. Without borrowings from banks in millions, whose interests run into lakhs, smaller capital raised by like-minded individuals will be able to raise so much capital which can enable us to set up corporate business. But of course, we will have to be Muslims first, meaning: honest, trustworthy, hardworking and proficient. The Qur’an said (28: 24): Surely, the best one you can hire is a strong, trustworthy (person). And(12: 55): He (Yusuf) said, ‘Appoint me over the store-houses of the land. I am a good keeper, knowledgeable.


My father is a well educated man. He is also quite religious. I mean, he was. A few days ago I got a really big shock when I discovered that he visits porn-sites I WAS SHATTERED. I was so close to him… I respected him so much. Please help me and advise me on what to do.

S. E., via email


There is noting truly shocking about it. Porn sites on the Web are no different from porn in print: newspapers, magazines, etc. Although, they are low level pornography, but they are pornography alright. They are spread around in every home. Now they are on the TV also. They are meant to fish in customers for products they offer. They are luring and tempting. Nobody is shocked to see his father or mother reading such literature, or watching it on the TV screen.

It is the strongly self-disciplined persons who can successfully ignore them. If there is nude picture in the Newspaper, everyone in the house is likely to stare at it for a while, old and young, men and women, religious and irreligious. If pornography did not help in catching the eye and then the product, the media would not use it.

National Geographic magazine won millions of subscribers through pornography, presented on different pretexts: exposition of foreign culture, life in the Bushes, and so on, at a time when no ordinary magazine dare print such vulgar photos. But it was done in the name of art and science in an artful way and millions of dollars were netted.

And now there is the Net, with porn sites running into hundreds of thousands. But they do not stay in their place. After giving out repolished Greek ideas to the world, the West is now empty of all ideas except violence and sex. It is there in full strength on the Net. And, one need not go it. It comes to him. It is enough if one opens his e-mail account. Pornography pops up.

There is no way avoiding this porno but by avoiding the sources: the Web. But, is it possible today to avoid the Web? Everyone therefore has to exercise vigilance. But if someone falters, and falls into the trap, we may not feel shocked either. It had to happen. Parents must especially exercise restraint. It can be devastating for their grown up children to learn that they watch pornographic material.

How to avoid the sex sites? Simple. Set the computer in well-exposed place in the house. Anyone passing around should be able to see what’s there on the screen. This will reduce the exposure to zero.

Doctors and Army

InshaAllah, I will be finishing my MBBS soon. I thought of joining the Indian army as a doctor, but my cousin told me joining it is like only after stepping on Qur’an… Please tell me what to do…

Mohammed Zahid, via email


Your cousin’s reaction was not right. Saving lives is the duty of a doctor: whether it is Muslim or non-Muslim, eastern or western, life. A doctor is above religion, race, and region.

Further, perhaps your cousin does not know that during a war, a doctor is not required to know what side an injured soldier belongs to: to the side of his country or the other, aggressing country. His recognized and overemphasized duty is to medically serve every fallen. In fact, in a civilized war, those who have fallen due to injuries are not shot dead on the ground. They are picked up for medical treatment (but of course taken prisoner).

Path of Fire

I am a Muslim guy in love with a Hindu girl… We have been in a relationship for the past one year. I really love her. Will it be right if I pray to Allah to make our marriage possible? Is it a sin to be in love with a non-Muslim girl? Please advice.

Akbar Ali, via email


It is a sin to be in love with a girl, Muslim or non-Muslim, if the love is of the kind you have fallen into. It is not love. She is merely a girl friend and the motive is sex. Once you are together for a few months, that element will be gone and new relationship will emerge. What would it be like is difficult to predict. The great majority end in disappointment, sometimes leading to separation.

Allah will never answer your prayer about her marriage to you. This is because Allah does not show the path of Fire to His creations. You will have to take the decision yourself.

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