Takaful (Arabic: التكافل, sometimes translated as "solidarity" or mutual guarantee)[1] is a co-operative system of reimbursement or repayment in case of loss, organized as an Islamic or sharia compliant alternative to conventional insurance, which Takaful proponents believe contains forbidden riba (usury) and gharar (excessive uncertainty).[2]

Under takaful people and companies concerned about hazards make regular contributions ("donations") to be reimbursed or repaid to members in the event of loss, and managed on their behalf by a takaful operator.[3] Takaful is grounded in Islamic muamalat (Islamic banking), observing the rules and regulations of Islamic law.

By the end of 2011, the takaful industry had grown to $12 billion "contributions" and is forecast to reach $20 billion by 2017.[4] The movement has been praised as providing "superior alternatives" to insurance that "reinvigorate human capital, emphasize personal dignity, community self-help, and economic self-development";[5] but also criticized as having "dwindled" in scope to an industry of "conventional insurance with Arabic terminology and language of contract."[6]


Theoretically, takaful is perceived as cooperative or mutual 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". The principles of takaful are as follows:

Muslims scholar have "hardly any difference of opinion" on "the need for managing, redeeming and mitigating general, business and life risks covered by the insurance business."[2] But whether conventional insurance is forbidden (haram) is disputed.

Argument against conventional insurance

Orthodox (i.e. most) Islamic scholars believe Commercial insurance is disallowed for Muslims because it contains

They have two main concerns about conventional insurance:

  1. The uncertainty "if and when the insured event will take place and, if it does take place, what would be the relationship of compensation to the insurance premium paid." (What if the holder of collision insurance policy never has a motor vehicle accident? they lose and the insurance company wins. Regarding life insurance, everyone dies, but what if the death occurs after the first payment of a premium for life insurance? they win and the insurance company loses.)[2] This "makes the insurance business similar to gambling, where the gambler does not know the fate of the game." Thus, uncertainty in the conventional insurance business "is excessive and borders on prohibited gharar."[2]
  2. "Insurance companies invest surplus funds on the basis of interest and pay out a part of such earnings to policyholders as bonuses". According to the "orthodox interpretation", this is riba.[2]

Argument for

Insurance is not like gambling because in gambling, no risk is covered and no damage is mitigated. The gamblers play a game of chance for entertainment and profit in which they can win or lose.[1] Furthermore, while insurance involves uncertainty, "statistical techniques and actuarial sciences have progressed to a stage where the insurance company can calculate its risks and benefits with great precision", so that the uncertainty involved in insurance can scarcely be called excessive in normal circumstances.[1]

Scriptural basis

[8] Islamic scholars supporting takaful point to [Quran 5:2] and several sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (hadith). Some examples are:


Takaful industry and models


The concept of takaful has reportedly been practised in various forms since 622 AD.[5] Muslim jurists acknowledge that the basis of shared responsibility (in the system of aquila as practised between Muslims of Mecca and Medina) laid the foundation of mutual insurance.

"In the case of insurance, as with commercial banks, orthodox opinion prevailed, and With "a consensus among Muslim scholars" about the legitimacy of takaful and the illegitimacy of conventional insurance, the "movement for Islamizing the contemporary insurance business" started around the mid-1970s. In 1976 a Fatwa was issued by the Higher Council of Saudi Arabia "in favor of Islamic model" of insurance.[5] The International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Jeddah of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also approved takaful as a legitimate form of business in 1985 (Ernst & Young)[1] The Islamic Insurance Company of Sudan started as the first takaful company in 1979. By the mid 1990s there were seven takaful companies in Sudan, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan.[10]

The industry grew from $1.384 billion in 2004 to $5.318 billion in 2008.[11] By the end of 2011, total takaful contributions amounted to $12 billion (as compared to $4 trillion for conventional insurance)[10] In 2005 there were 82 companies around the world engaged in takaful business (77 dedicated takaful companies, and five "offering takaful products" from "Islamic windows").[10] By 2006 there were 133.[12] As with the traditional forms of insurance, reinsurance of a takaful operation may be used, known as "retakaful".[13] As of 2013 the leading takaful countries are "Malaysia and the Gulf states".[10]


There are several models (and several variations) of how takaful can be implemented:

The Mudharabah model (profit-sharing)

According to this principle the al-Mudharib (takaful operator) accepts payment of the takaful installments or takaful contributions (premiums, known as ra's-ul-mal) from investors or providers of capital or funds (takaful participants), acting as sahib-ul-mal. The contract specifies how the profits (or surplus) from the operations of the takaful is to be shared in accordance with the principle of al-mudharabah – between the participants (as providers of capital) and the takaful operator. The sharing of such profit may be in a ratio of 50:50, 60:40, 70:30 and so forth, 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, contribute, or give away") is incorporated. Relating to this concept, a participant agrees to relinquish (as tabarru) a certain proportion of his takaful installments (or contributions) that he agrees or undertakes to pay, should any of his fellow participants suffer a defined loss. This agreement enables him to fulfill his obligation of mutual help and joint guarantee.

In essence, tabarru enables participants to perform their deeds in 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 a 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 striving prudently to ensure the funds are sufficiently protected against over-exposure. Therefore, the provision of insurance coverage in conformity with Shariah is based on the Islamic principles of al-takaful and al-mudharabah.

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 a 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.


One complaint made against (most) takaful (by Muhammad Akram Khan) is that despite talk of solidarity, (most) takaful-holders "do not have any `voice`" in the management of the takaful. The "TO" (takaful operator) "makes all the crucial decisions, such as rate of premium, risk strategy, asset management and allocation of surpluses and profits". The shareholders of the TO and "not the takaful-holders, appoint and dismiss managers of the takaful".[16] An exception to this state of affairs can be found in Sudan, where the takaful-holders have more say in the management of the takaful business.[15]

Whether takaful is significantly different from conventional insurance has been questioned. Islamic economist Mohammad Najatuallah Siddiqui writes that

"The form of organization chosen to take advantage of the law of large numbers does not change the reality. We can make insurance a not-for-profit activity (provided we can ensure efficient management), but it does not change the essential nature of what is being done."[17]

One of the practical differences between conventional insurance and Takaful is that: "In case of the deficit of a Participants’ Takaful Fund, the Takaful operator (Wakeel) provides free interest [interest-free] loan (QardHasan) to the Participants."[18]

This will likely lead to enmity and dispute between Takaful participants. As is illustrated in the following example: Let's say Adam and Kareem are making the same contributions to a Takaful fund meant to cover damages from car accidents. Later, both Adam and Kareem get in an accident. Adam files his claim one day before Kareem does. When Adam files his claim there is money left in the Takaful fund to cover his damages and he gets cash, no strings attached. When Kareem files his claim, there is nothing left in the Takaful fund and he is either given nothing or given a loan (as some Takaful operators do). How is this going to make Kareem feel about Adam who took the last of the money in the fund? It seems reasonable to expect that this arrangement will create enmity and ill-will between Kareem and Adam and between Kareem and the Takaful operator.[19]

Additionally, there has been doubt cast on the legitimacy of claiming that Takaful participants are making "donations". This is because the word "donations" implies giving with no expectation of worldly return. This is clearly not the case with Takaful participants who are seeking insurance.[19]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.403
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.402
  3. Ajmal Bhatty, President & Chief Executive Officer, Tokio Marine Middle East, Takaful Summit 2011.
  4. "Global Takaful premium to reach $20 billion by 2017". Gulf News Banking. April 13, 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 Omar Fisher and Dawood Y.Taylor (April 2000). "Prospects for Evolution of Takaful in the 21st Century: Origins of Takaful" (PDF). President and Fellows of Harvard College.
  6. Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.410
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "About Takaful Insurance". takaful.coop. International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  8. Mulhim, Ahmed Salem; Sabbagh, Ahmed Mohammed (c. 2001). The ISLAMIC INSURANCE THEORY and PRACTICE (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  9. "Proof for the concept of Takaful in Quran and Sunnah" (PDF). takaful.com. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.408
  11. Ernst & Young, World Takaful Report 2010
  12. Ernst & Young, World Takaful Report 2008
  13. "Concept Paper – Guidelines on Takaful Operational Framework" (PDF). Bank Negara Malaysia. 2009-12-01.
  14. Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.405
  15. 1 2 Archer, Simon; Abdel Karim, Riffat Ahmed; Nienhaus, Volker (2009). Takaful Islamic insurance: Concepts and regulatory issues. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia). pp. 63–4.
  16. Khan, What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?, 2013: p.409
  17. Siddiqui, Mohammad Najatuallah "Islamic banking and finance in theory and practice: A survey of the state of the art." Islamic Economic Studies, 13 (2) (February): 1-48
  18. "Tazur Takaful". Tazur.
  19. 1 2 Kayali, Rakaan. "The True Difference Between Takaful and Insurance". Practical Islamic Finance. wordpress.


Chakib Abouzaid: Presentation of the World Islamic Insurance Directory at the World Takaful Conference (2006/07/08/09/10/11/12) www.takaful-re.ae

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