Nur Syahidah Abdul Jalil
There are many financial products offered in the market catering to a person's preparation to protect themselves and their loved ones from financial shocks caused by undesirable events. For Muslims, these include takaful protection schemes, inheritance instruments and others.
When promoting such products, one should not use fearmongering techniques because they are contrary to their original principles. Although the intention is to raise awareness about some issues, this may confuse people on some aspects of Islamic jurisprudence.
This can be seen in misunderstandings regarding the Islamic jurisprudence on faraid. For example, when advertisements state that if a Muslim does not take a particular financial product, that person will leave his family in suffering as the property will be divided according to faraid as the process takes time, compounded by the absence of a "stopper" heir (son) and others.
It can cause misunderstandings in the Islamic law of inheritance. In reality, faraid is a part of the distribution management of a deceased's property, which is implemented after factoring in the deceased's funeral expenses, debts, wills, jointly acquired property (acquired by husband and wife during the subsistence of marriage) and heirs who disagree on the share they will receive.
The provision in Islamic law of inheritance comes with a great responsibility as Allah states in the Quran, "Men are in charge of women by (right of) what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend (for maintenance) from their wealth." (An-Nisa ', 4:34).
Anyone who deliberately becomes irresponsible towards his or her dependents will be punished in the hereafter. If a person consumes the property of orphans under his or her care unjustly, they will be punished by Allah as the Quran states, "Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a blaze" (An-Nisa', 4:10).
Among the real issues in managing a deceased's property include getting the right information on the property and disputes on other claims before faraid, such as the claim of will or jointly acquired property. Other issues are generations of heirs, a monitoring system to the new guardian and others, which need to be dealt with by different agencies. These are reasons why the implementation of some faraid cases can take a long time and cost more.
These issues originate from human weaknesses, such as stubbornness or lack of responsibility, greed and bureaucracy. By identifying and resolving these issues, people can understand the wisdom of the Islamic law of inheritance.
Therefore, solving such issues should be channelled in appropriate platforms and not by promoting financial products in such a way that lead to confusion about faraid.
Islam celebrates the good intentions of individuals who manage their financial matters based on care and love towards others.
For example, by participating in takaful protection schemes, bequeathing to adopted children, giving hibah (gifts) to spouses and parents and others.
This is the true and genuine objective of Islamic financial products. Islamic financial planning has its advantages and rules.
The wisdom prescribed in such a way is for the benefit of all parties. In the case of Saad bin Abi Waqas R.A., who intended to bequeath his entire property, the Prophet stated that only one-third of a person's property is allowed in a will as it is better to leave the heir in sufficiency (reported by al-Bukhari).
The same is with today's takaful protection schemes, which are based on the principles of ta'awun (helping each other) and tabarru' (sincere donation), and limited to certain rules when implemented. In promoting them, one should not over claim the products beyond the original concepts, which can cause frustration to consumers once they realise they are not benefiting from some protection under the scheme.
A person should make a financial plan according to his ability, not forced or following market trends. Muslims need to understand that the principles in Islamic financial products are different from their conventional counterparts.
The principles and laws in Islamic matters contain great wisdom and a symbol of piety of a Muslim to the Creator.
The writer is Senior Research Officer, Centre for Economics and Social Studies, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM)
Published in: New Straits Times on Friday, 16 April 2021