Status of Takaful
Glossary of Financial Terms
Prohibitions of Gharar, Maysir and Riba
An insurance contract contains gharar because, when a claim is not made, one party (insurance company) may acquire all the profits (premium) gained whereas the other party (participant) may not obtain any profit whatsoever. Ibn Taimiyah, a leading Muslim scholar, further reasoned "Gharar found in the contract exists because one party acquired profit while the other party did not". The prohibition on gharar would require all investment gains and losses to eventually be apportioned in order to avoid excessive uncertainty with respect to a return on the policyholder's investment.
Islamic scholars have stated that maysir (gambling) and gharar are inter-related. Where there are elements of gharar, elements of maysir is usually present. Maysir exists in an insurance contract when; the policy holder contributes a small amount of premium in the hope to gain a larger sum; the policy holder loses the money paid for the premium when the event that has been insured for does not occur; the company will be in deficit if the claims are higher that the amount contributed by the policy holders.
Conventional endowment insurance policies promising a contractually-guaranteed payment, hence offends the riba prohibition. The element of riba also exists in the profit of investments used for the payment of policyholders’ claims by the conventional insurance companies. This is because most of the insurance funds are invested by them in financial instruments such as bonds and stacks which may contain elements of Riba.
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