Q: I am unemployed and need to find employement as soon as possible. I live in a small town and the only job I can get is to sell insurance for a big company. Is it permissible for a Muslim to sell insurance products that include educational plans, investments, pension plans and funeral cover?
Insurance is a procedure that involves two unlawful elements: viz; interest and chance. Interest is found because one pays into the fund a certain sum of money in premiums, and then gets back a far greater sum if and when a payout is made. The chance factor, which is also found in gambling, arises because one is uncertain whether an incident will occur that will warrant a claim. Islam prohibits this for a number of reasons. The prohibition of interest or usury is well known. On this basis, any form of insurance that has these two elements will be Haraam. The interest factor alone is enough to render any transaction or deal as Haraam.
You need to put your trust firmly in Almighty Allah. Don’t ever believe that the only job available is selling insurance policies. This is a test from your side and with a little bit of positivism you should pass this test, Inshaa Allah. With trust in Allah and perseverance, other doors will open for you. Be assured that if you withhold yourself from Haraam employment for the sake of Allah, He will certainly open up other avenues of sustenance and income for you. It is a tough challenge, and made much more difficult by the negative promptings of Shaytaan, but you just need a little bit of will-power and self-control to keep yourself in check.
The Messenger of Allah (Alayhis-salaam) once said to a Sahaabi: “Seek a Halaal livelihood for you and your family, for verily this is a Jihad in The Path of Allah. And know that the Help of Allah lies in pure trade.” (Majma’uz-Zawaaid, Chapter on Trade)
Another Hadeeth states: “Let not a delay in sustenance (e.g. unemployment) drive you to seek it in the disobedience of Allah, for you will only get what is by Allah through His Obedience.” (Tabarani, from Abu Umamah Radhiyallaahu Anhu).
May Allah Ta’aala grant you an easy and Halaal source of income, Aameen.
Mufti Siraj Desai