AIG Responds

Friday, 12 December 2008 13:11
AIG Responds

As you know, we have encouraged our members to contact AIG to express our disapproval with AIG’s decision to market a shariah-compliant insurance product. 

One of our members received an email response from AIG, which we have copied below. Beneath the AIG response is our response. 
“We received your email expressing your concern over our announcement that we would begin marketing Takaful insurance products in the United States. 

AIG operates around the world and endeavors to provide products that meet the diverse needs of its 74 million customers living in 130 countries and jurisdictions. 

Marketing to specific ethnic constituencies is not new or unique to AIG. For instance, AIG businesses have tailored programs for a range of religious organizations, including Methodist churches and synagogues. The concept of Takaful is similar the concept of reciprocal exchange, or mutual insurance. What makes the structure somewhat different is that premiums are held in non-interest-bearing accounts, and any excess profit is distributed back to the policyholders or given to charity. While the Takaful structure is desirable to those whose religious convictions preclude them from engaging in traditional interest-bearing structures, Takaful is also increasingly popular among non-Muslims who feel that the excess charitable aspect is a socially responsible mechanism for the purchase of insurance. In the United States, AIG plans to direct excess profits to U.S. based charitable organizations. These policies are standard homeowners’ policies and are guided by U.S. law. The funds for these policies are held in Shariah-compliant, non-interest bearing accounts at HSBC. 

We hope this addresses your concerns.” 
The AIG response is a fairly typical one companies provide when asked about shariah-compliant products. They usually compare shariah-compliant products to special products offered to other religious groups, and they almost always characterize the shariah-compliant product as “socially responsible.” Note AIG’s comparison to “Methodist churches and synagogues” and the phrase “socially responsible mechanism.” 

There are at least three problems with AIG’s response. 
1. The comparison to “Methodist churches and synagogues” is faulty. Methodist churches and synagogues do not require financial products that advance religious law that oppresses women and has at its core the call to jihad, as shariah-compliant products do. “Shariah-compliant” is just that – in compliance with Shariah law. The tenets of Shariah Islamic law include permission for forced child marriages, the beating of disobedient women, death sentences for Muslims who chose to convert away from Shariah Islam, and the obligation to wage offensive military Jihad against non-Muslims. By offering shariah-compliant products AIG, whether knowingly or unwittingly, is legitimizing and, by extension, endorsing shariah law. 

Think of it this way. Would AIG offer a product that was “apartheid compliant”? Of course not, because AIG would know that doing so would legitimize apartheid. To argue that a company can offer a product that is “compliant” with shariah law, but is not legitimizing shariah law, is disingenuous. So we repeat, AIG is either knowingly or unwittingly legitimizing a religious law system that oppresses women and is animated by jihad.
2. The advisory board for AIG’s Shariah-compliant insurance includes Muhammed Imran Usmani, the son and disciple of Muhammed Taki Usmani. The elder Usmani is a “who’s who” in the Islamist world and an outspoken proponent of aggressive jihad. For example, he has issued numerous fatwas (religious rulings) that provide material support for terrorism. What “socially responsible mechanism” does AIG provide to “Methodist churches and synagogues” that has an advisory board which includes the disciple of an internationally-known advocate for terrorism? 

Let’s use the apartheid example again. Would AIG offer a product that had an advisory board which included the son and disciple of an internationally-known advocate for apartheid? Of course not.
3. Note this statement in AIG’s response: “In the United States, AIG plans to direct excess profits to U.S. based charitable organizations.” Shariah-compliant finance requires such charitable giving to go to Muslim charities. Who directs where the money goes? The Shariah-compliant advisory board, which in this case includes the son and disciple of an internationally-renowned advocate of terrorism. 

But that’s only one problem. Currently over two dozen Muslim charities have been identified by the U.S. government as having links to terrorist organizations. How many other Muslim charities have links to terrorist organizations and have not yet been identified? The recent convictions in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial illustrate the complex web that some Muslim charities have created to funnel charitable contributions to terrorist organizations. 

What AIG is thus doing is offering a financial instrument that may very well wind up as a conduit for funds to terrorist organizations. Even if that never occurred, why would a company want to put itself in such a position? Why would a company want to entangle itself with the son and disciple of an advocate for terrorism? Why would a company even take the chance that a financial product it offers could end up serving as a conduit for funds to terrorist organizations? How is this “socially responsible”? What’s more, doesn’t AIG recognize that, if funds from its shariah-compliant product did end up going to terrorist organizations, it could be facing, at best, a public relations nightmare, and at worst, lawsuits alleging negligence, and even criminal investigations? 

This is no mere hypothesis. David Yerushalmi, a legal expert on the issue of shariah law, has written a lengthy legal article spelling out the potential civil and criminal liabilities for companies that engage in shariah-compliant finance. (To read the article click here).
We will continue to press for more information and for the opportunity to educate AIG as to the dangers of what it has ventured into. We’ll keep you posted. 

Please forward this email to everyone you know so they will become aware of this issue – and encourage them to sign up for our email alerts! This is how we get the word out! 

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