Pak-Qatar products advocating purest form of Islamic financing to transform the social and economic system
Interview with Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed – CEO, Pak-Qatar Family Takaful
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your profession, please:
Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed: My nature of work involves helping people in time of dire need. There is no bigger satisfaction in the world than to help a fellow human being and get his honest blessings in return. I firmly believe in developing a vision in life and plan accordingly. Without vision and purpose one cannot manage life. My parents have been a source of continuous inspiration and I try my level best to follow their professional approach and positive traits in my daily routine.
The insurance industry is of considerable importance to any developing country. I am proud to be a part of Takaful industry. Takaful is a Shariah compliant alternative to conventional insurance. In the current age, the need and importance of insurance cannot be overlooked, but the current principles and practices used in insurance are against the teachings of our religion. Islamic scholars have deliberated over this matter for years and devised the concept of Takaful. It will not be possible for me to summarize that effort of years within few lines, but briefly we can say that the three elements which are forbidden in any Sales-Purchase agreement namely Riba (interest), Qimar/Maysir (gambling) and Gharrar (uncertainty) are avoided in Takaful (Tabbaru Agreement) by creating a model on the principles of Tabarru (charity) and Waqf (similar to mortmain).
PAGE: How would you comment on the growth of Islamic insurance in Pakistan?
Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed: We have achieved tremendous growth within a short time. Success of Pak-Qatar in Pakistan can easily measure that today, all conventional insurance players acknowledge it and started distributing Takaful through windows. I am positive that our growth is accelerating as more and more people are becoming aware of this noble concept. Pak-Qatar Takaful achieved its financial break even within four years, which is a great accomplishment by any standards. The high potential has also inspired the conventional insurance companies to create their Takaful windows. I can foresee that within the next five years, the Takaful business will take over 60 percent of the total insurance industry in Pakistan. The global growth of Takaful business is nearly 28 percent per annum, while the growth of insurance is only 8 to 10 percent. In the 210 million population of Pakistan, the insurance-penetration in the country has only reached 0.7 percent, over so many years. So till date, the remaining 99.3 percent of the financial protection market is still untapped, giving us a vast room to grow. Pak-Qatar Takaful already has over 4 percent market share in Pakistan.
PAGE: Your views on the existing and upcoming Islamic insurance products and their benefits?
Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed: Pak-Qatar Takaful is offering; Individual, Group and Banca products and within the group Takaful products we are offering Group Life and Health protection. These products are covering all kinds of basic needs like; Child Education Saving Plan, Death Benefits, Share n Care plan, Investment plans, etc. All these Takaful products are absolutely competitive, more rewarding and flexible for the customer, compared to the traditional insurance products. So we are competing in the market purely on merit, without indulging in the interest-based financing models. Our Takaful products have also won prestigious awards. Moreover, Pak-Qatar Takaful has already paid the customer claims worth Rs 4.7 billion, since 2008.
PAGE: Your comments on marketing strategies for Islamic insurance products?
Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed: Very tough – I must say. The marketing team of Pak-Qatar Takaful Group is playing a significant role in creating awareness about Takaful. It is very difficult yet challenging at the same time to market our products as we have to strictly follow Shariah guidelines for advertising. Recent years have witnessed that people are now more inclined towards Islamic products. We even visit different institutions to deliver lectures and provide the students with basic knowledge. Creating awareness amongst the masses is the core objective of Pak-Qatar Takaful Group’s Vision statement. We are advocating this purest form of Islamic financing to transform the social and economic system, while telling the masses about the necessity and benefits of this healthy financial system.
PAGE: What are the expectations of the insurance sector from the incoming government?
Muhammad Nasir Ali Syed: I am quite confident and hopeful that the new government will bring change in the business climate. We expect that the regulatory authorities will offer more conducive environment and level playing field. Recently, educational institutions all over Pakistan have started offering university courses and diplomas in Islamic finance which is a very positive development. It is important to educate Islamic finance, including Takaful, to the youth through high profile educational institutions that can provide them with the right perspective on Shariah-compliant finance. This is not only likely to create greater acceptance for Takaful, but also provide the industry with professionally trained personnel. The real task is to build an image of Takaful as a modern-day protection system that promises financial security while adhering to the high moral values and the non-exploitative, humanitarian principles of Islam.