Atiq Khan

LUCKNOW: Even before the controversy over the fatwa (opinion) related to Muslim women working in close proximity to men in offices has died down, the prestigious Sunni Muslim seminary, Darul Uloom, Deoband in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh has reportedly come out with a fatwa, which has decreed that in the light of the “Shariat,” opting for an insurance policy is against the tenets of Islam. The fatwa was issued by the Darul Ifta department of Darul Uloom in response to a query.

The seminary has reportedly declared that since the calculation of the money pledged in the policy is based on “interest,” it was un-Islamic to opt for one.

An insurance policy is essentially a contract between the person assured and the company in which a fixed amount is pledged to be paid to the person, or his nominee against losses and in the event of his death.

The Deoband decree held no meaning for hundreds and thousands of Muslims in India, who regularly opt for an insurance policy. For working Muslim men and women taking one in a public sector insurance company also entitles them to income tax rebate. According Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the Naib Imam of Lucknow's Aishbagh Idgah and member of the India Muslim Personal Law Board, who also heads the other notable fatwa issuing authority in North India, the Firangi Mahal here, said in the Indian situation for a Muslim opting for an insurance policy and using its money is “conditional.”

In the event of the assured person's death due to natural causes his, or her, nominee and the family members are allowed to use the premium money and the remaining amount which is calculated on the basis of interest has to be distributed among the poor and needy, Maulana Rasheed clarified.

The second condition is related to the death of the assured person in violent incidents like communal riots. “Since, incidents like communal violence become a State matter, normally compensation for the deceased persons is announced by the government. However, if no compensation is announced then his nominee and family can take the entire amount,” the Maulana said.

However, there is no such confusion among the Shia Muslims on whether to opt, or not to opt, for an insurance policy in the light of the “Shariat.” Shia cleric and Imam-i-Juma of the Asafi mosque in Lucknow, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said it is “jaayez” (lawful). It is even permitted in Iran, he said. “There is no controversy among the Shias on the subject,” Maulana Jawwad added.

A popular view among the Muslims is that the fatwas should be seen in the context in which they have been issued, and not generalised.