Friday, July 8, 2011

Takaful MD blasts conventional insurance practitioners

Says their scheme of insurance practice is “gambling” 

Mr Joof, MD Takaful Islamic Insurance Company
The managing director of Takaful Gambia Limited, the only insurance company that operates in Shariah compliance principles, has condemned the operating principles of conventional insurance companies saying “it is not fair as it is based on gambling”.

Momodou M. Joof claimed that conventional insurance practitioners cannot define insurance in any way apart from buying and selling.  

“Insurance can only be seen as somebody selling and somebody buying and under a buying and selling principle there is a strict warning from Allah that ‘what you pay for must be equivalent to what you are getting’. So when you come to them and say ‘I have a vehicle which is D100,000 value and I want to insure it’, they tell you to pay D10,000; when you pay this D10,000 they gave you a piece of paper.  

“The piece of paper you bought from them for D10,000 that is what they call insurance and it states that when you suffer a loss they will pay you, but what about when you don’t suffer a loss.”

Mr Joof said further that nobody wants to get into a contract that will only benefit them when they get into an accident.  For example, he said, when you insure your house against fire, they (the conventional insurance practitioners) will tell you that you will only benefit when your house is on fire. If it is marine insurance they will tell you that you will only benefit when your boat/ship sinks at sea.”  

“What we stand for at Takaful Insurance is fairness,” MD Joof said, adding:  “Our policy is that insurance can only be categorised under trade, and that is buying and selling.  Buying and selling must be such that the price of what you are buying must be equivalent to what you are gaining. So you cannot charge me D10,000 only for you to give me a piece of paper and at the end of the year when nothing happens, when I come back again to renew the policy, you will still charge me more; that is not done.”

The Takaful CEO said Islam states that when one belongs to an organisation and suffer a loss the person goes back to the organisation and get paid, “which is good”. But the conventional insurance practitioners should polish such an arrangement or policy to make it acceptable in the eyes of Islam, he said, adding that what is acceptable in the eyes of Islam “must be transparent”; it must not be gambling”.
Mr Joof, who spent the greater part of his insurance career with conventional insurance companies, said the operating principle of conventional insurance is based on gambling because “when you suffer a loss they pay you more than you will have paid them, but when you don’t suffer a loss, you lose the whole of your money in the cause of the year: this is gambling”. 

The manager of the sole Islamic insurance company in the country said insurance in the Islamic principle is called Takaful. “This means when you come to us and give us your money we don’t call you a client but a participant. You are coming to participate in the creation of a pool, a general pool of money that belongs to all of us and the agreement is that whoever is a member that may suffer a loss we (the Takaful) as the custodian of the pool will put our hands together and pay that person.  

“But when we continue to pay from the pool till the end of the year and are left with a balance that we didn’t pay, then that is the profit.

“In that case, at the end of the year, the first thing to do is to give to God what belongs to Him, and that which belongs to God is Zakat (alms); so that is why we pay Zakat first and then we distribute the remaining as profit to anybody that is a member that does not suffer a loss.” 

Mr Joof said Takaful insurance scheme is meant to benefit not only for Muslims but also people of other faiths, such as Christians.  “One of our first clients is a Christian association,” Mr Joof said, adding: “Let there be no fear because Islam seeks to extend its love to everyone and the scheme is there to help human beings. Christians will have the same benefit as any other person or institution insuring with Takaful.” 

Since the Takaful managing director perceives the conventional insurance scheme as equivalent to “gambling”, it is deemed necessary to give practitioners of the conventional insurance scheme the opportunity to set the records straight. However, all efforts by Gambia News Online at soliciting comments from their side have so far proved futile.

A senior insurance practitioner told this reporter that they don’t want to get involved in an unending debate with Mr Joof as both Mr Joof’s company and other conventional insurance companies are part of the Insurance Association of The Gambia and that their main goal should be on how to collectively develop the insurance industry rather than labour on attacking each other.  

“As a matter of fact, he [Mr Joof] was trained by conventional insurance practitioners. He spent the greater part of his insurance life with the conventional insurance companies,” the senior insurance practitioner who chose to remain anonymous told Gambia News Online.


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