What is Takaful?
Takaful is an Islamic insurance concept which is grounded in Islamic muamalat (banking transactions), observing the rules and regulations of Islamic law. This concept has been practised in various forms for over 1400 years. It originates from Arabic word Kafalah, which means “guaranteeing each other” or “joint guarantee”. In principle, the Takaful system is based on mutual co-operation, responsibility, assurance, protection and assistance between groups of participants. It is a form of mutual insurance.
The principles of Takaful are as follows:
- Policyholders co-operate among themselves for their common good.
- Every policyholder pays his subscription to help those that need assistance.
- Losses are divided and liabilities spread according to the community pooling system.
- Uncertainty is eliminated in respect of subscription and compensation.
- It does not derive advantage at the cost of others.
Theoretically, Takaful is perceived as cooperative insurance, where members contribute a certain sum of money to a common pool. The purpose of this system is not profits but to uphold the principle of “bear ye one another’s burden.” Commercial insurance is strictly not allowed for Muslim as agreed upon by most contemporary scholars because it contains the following elements: i) Al-Gharar (Uncertainty) ii) Al-MaisirRiba (Interest) (Gambling) iii)
There are three (3) models and several variations on how takaful can be implemented.
- Mudharabah Model
- Wakalah Model
- Combination of both
By this principle, the entrepreneur or al-Mudharib (takaful operator) will accept payment of the takaful installments or takaful contributions (premium) termed as Ra’s-ul-Mal from investors or providers of capital or fund (takaful participants) acting as Sahib-ul-Mal. The contract specifies how the profit (surplus) from the operations of takaful managed by the takaful operator is to be shared, in accordance with the principle of al-Mudharabah, between the participants as the providers of capital and the takaful operator as the entrepreneur. The sharing of such profit may be in a ratio 50:50, 60:40, 70:30, etc. as mutually agreed between the contracting parties.
In order to eliminate the element of uncertainty in the takaful contract, the concept of tabarru (to donate, to contribute, to give away) is incorporated. In relation to this a participant shall agree to relinquish as tabarru, certain proportion of his takaful installments or takaful contributions that he agrees or undertakes to pay thus enabling him to fulfill his obligation of mutual help and joint guarantee should any of his fellow participants suffer a defined loss.
In essence, tabarru would enable the participants to perform their deeds in sincerely assisting fellow participants who might suffer a loss or damage due to a catastrophe or disaster. The sharing of profit or surplus that may emerge from the operations of takaful, is made only after the obligation of assisting the fellow participants has been fulfilled. It is imperative, therefore, for a takaful operator to maintain adequate assets of the defined funds under its care whilst simultaneously striving prudently to ensure the funds are sufficiently protected against undue over-exposure. Therefore the provision of insurance cover as a form of business in conformity with Shariah is based on the Islamic principles of al-Takaful and al-Mudharabah.
Al-Takaful is the pact among a group of people, called participants, reciprocally guaranteeing each other; while Al-Mudharabah is the commercial profit-sharing contract between the provider or providers of funds for a business venture and the entrepreneur who actually conducts the business. The operation of takaful may thus be envisaged as the profit-sharing business venture between the takaful operator and the individual members of a group of participants who desire to reciprocally guarantee each other against a certain loss or damage that may be inflicted upon any one of them.