Application of the Delphi Technique in the Formation of Shariah-Compliant Gold Instrument (SCGI)

Abstract: The Delphi technique is a method used in order to get a unanimous decision from a group of experts regarding a certain issue. This technique was created as an effort in order to facilitate the formation of a joint decision among a group of experts in resolving a problem. This paper will establish the formation of Shariah-Compliant Gold Instrument (SCGI) by using this particular technique. A total of 13 experts in Mualamat were selected as participants and a total of three rounds were done in order to obtain their agreement. An open-ended questionnaire method and a close-ended questionnaire method were used during the first round whereas the 4-Point Likert Scale questionnaire was used during the second round and for the third round, the Delphi technique was utilized to obtain the relevant data’s. Analysis of the questionnaire was done at every stage and a unanimous agreement by the experts were obtained by the third round as the item received a 70% level of agreement or a median frequency of at least 3.25. As a result, this study has obtained 43 items SCGI instruments which is embedded in four dimensions namely, (i) investor and investment institutions; (ii) products and prices; (iii) the contract deal; and (iv) secondary contract. In conclusion, this research has successfully created the SCGI instrument that can be used by Islamic Financial Institutions (IFI) to create new products or an audit of the existing Shariah gold investment in order to ensure it complies with Muamalat.

Application of the Delphi Technique In The Formation of Shariah-Compliant Gold Instrument (SCGI)

Najahudin Lateh1*, Ghafarullahhuddin Din, Muhamad Rahimi Osman, Ezani Yaakob Siti Noorbiah Rejab

1Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Malaysia

*Corresponding Author

Keywords: Delphi technique, Gold investment, Shariah compliant

  1. Introduction

Shariah-compliant terminology is a main discussion among scholars around the world, including Malaysia. This is because there is a setting criteria and Shariah compliance standard for different products practiced in different countries (Derigs & Marzban, 2008). However, the related criteria’s regarding the law on the use of gold as reserves, transaction and as a currency in several hadith amongst which narrated by ‘Ubadah ibn al-Samit that the Prophet SAW said: “Gold (exchanged) with gold, silver with silver, wheat with wheat, barley with barley, salt with salt, it should be weighed equally and delivered wholly immediately. If it involves different types of goods, then sell them as you wish but ensure there are no delays in its delivery.” (Muslim, 1987)

Previous researches (Mohd Yusra, 2012; Saat, 2011; Salmy, 2011) did not elaborate much on gold investments that are compliant with Shariah but instead discussed more on the methods, design and strategic gold investments. However, there were a few researches such as Lokmanulhakim et al. (2013) which explained about the gold investment rules in terms of fiqh contract aspect whereas Zaharuddin (2012) analyzed certain gold investments based on these fiqh rules. Meanwhile Lokmanulhakim (2012) widened his analysis on several products by using Gold Investment Parameter (GIP) as produced by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) and certified by the National Fatwa Association (JAKIM, 2012a). But the 23 parameters were too general and merely touched on the contract aspects to the extent that the Shariah Advisory Council of the financial institutions in Malaysia has recommended further research must be done regarding those parameters (JAKIM, 2012b). Therefore, this research was done with the final objective of creating a SCGI items that are fully agreed by experts through the application of the Delphi technique.

  • Foundations of the Delphi Technique

The Delphi technique or method is an effort of communication amongst panel experts (Adler & Ziglio, 1996) in order to facilitate the formation of a group decision (Helmer, 1968). This technique was used to obtain a consensus expert opinion and previous researches have proved that the Delphi method is more effective in generating ideas compared to other methods (Ludwig, 1997; Ulschak, 1983). According to (Dalkey, Rourke, Lewis & Snyder, 1972), ‘several heads are better than one’ as the best views can be obtained through various responses from knowledgeable expert individuals. Historically, the Delphi technique was developed by Norman Dalkey and Olaf Helmer for the United States Air Force sponsored by RAND Corporation during the early 1950s as the experts were scattered and difficult to meet personally (Dalkey & Helmer, 1963; Ludwig, 1997; Miller & Salkind, 2002; Rand, 2013). This technique allowed those experts to handle a problem or a complicated task systematically. According to Linstone & Turoff (1975), it was used to configure a group communication process in order to facilitate problem solving and discussion sessions between these experts avoiding any specific disruptive social interactive behavior. According to Helmer (1983), an expert is more prone to give their honest opinions freely and with no bias in the absence of other peoples’ opinions. Therefore the Delphi technique was created as a tool of judgement, decision-making (Rowe & Wright, 1999), as well as to improve the current prediction method (Dalkey et al., 1972). In fact, the word Delphi is said to refer to the holy site of the respected oracles in ancient Greece forecasts in which the orders of Gods were asked through these oracles (Fowles, 1978).

This research utilized the Delphi technique in order to design a questionnaire instrument regarding the SCGI. The best results were produced through this technique as it is a form of method which utilizes several series of questionnaire or interviews to obtain important relevant data’s from the expert panels (Dalkey & Helmer, 1963; Linstone & Turoff, 1975). The usage of this technique includes program planning and administration (Delbecq, Ven, & Gustafson, 1975), creating model or instruments (Linstone & Turoff, 1975), designing a research instrument about a problem or phenomena which has yet to exist or fully complete to be solved (Adler & Ziglio, 1996; Delbecq et al., 1975; Skulmoski, Hartman, & Krahn, 2007). Thus, the researcher has followed the basic and key features of the Delphi technique as recommended by the experts as shown below (Delbecq et al., 1975; Linstone & Turoff, 1975; Adler & Ziglio, 1996; Rowe & Wright, 1999):

  • The names of the Delphi participants is confidential in order to let them express their views and opinions without any pressure from other people;
  • Each participants were selected individually and are unaware of the answers given by other expert panel participants;
  • Each participants became aware of the answers from other experts during the second round, in which they were given the results of the data analysis from the researcher;
  • There is a controlled feedback as a courtesy to participants, to give them the opportunity to clarify or correct their initial views of the earlier round to another round;
  • The participants were not influenced by anybody through any manner in determining their answers; and
  • The data statistics were taken from the aggregate view of the group and not the substance views given to enable the quantitative analysis and data interpretation to be done.
  • The Selection of Panel Experts

The Delphi technique was implemented to achieve a high degree agreement amongst the panel experts, the individuals who are knowledgeable and specialized experienced in a particular field (Ludwig, 1997; Martino, 1983). Therefore the selection of panel experts for this research was done thoroughly to avoid any major mistakes and findings. They were chosen from people who are experts that are knowledgeable and experienced in a particular field (Ludwig, 1997) and a comprehensive selection of expert panels will ensure an entire spectrum of views will be equally presented in order to acquire effective results (Loo, 2002). This is because the success of the Delphi technique depends on the views and information provided. Therefore the panel experts must be identified through a process of nomination and not by random selection (Ludwig, 1997). According to Tajul Ariffin (1997), individual experts can be judged through several criteria’s such as a good personality, presentation of papers, number of research publications and the number of research publications.

  • Participation Selection

The selected Delphi participants should fulfill certain criteria’s created by the researcher (Ludwig, 1997). Their expertise should be certified through collaboration with related institutions such as Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), banks and research bodies such as International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA). Previous researchers suggested that the panel experts should consist of people who are knowledgeable on the issue and are also motivated to remain until the research ends (Linstone & Turoff, 1975; Adler & Ziglio, 1996). Experts in shariah, Islamic finance and muamalat were given priority to avoid large gaps in their opinions. This is consistent with the contents and objectives of the title. Therefore, this study selects the participants for the Delphi Technique amongst panel experts which fulfills the conditions below:

  • Have at least a Master’s Degree in the field of shariah; and
  • The Mufti of the Government; or
  • Shariah Advisor at a finance institution; or
  • Muamalat Researcher at a shariah research institution; or
  • Shariah Professor in public universities.
  • Panel Size

In terms of size, the researcher has chosen 13 panels of experts as participants in this Delphi technique study. This amount is suitable for the researcher as a large number of participants will result in various items and ideas given hence agitating the process of summarizing their views (Ludwig, 1997; Linstone & Turoff (1975). At the same time Delbecq et al. (1975) proposed for the researcher to utilize the minimum amount of participant required. The number of participants is generally dependant on the total required for the process representative of information for the researcher (Ludwig, 1997). Whereas Loo (2002) stated that a careful selection of experts is a key factor in the Delphi technique, which would allow the researcher to be confident in the results obtained despite using a small panel size. Therefore, the selected sample size of the study must take into account the opinions and examples given by other research studies regarding this particular technique in order to achieve the desired objective.

Generally, the researcher aimed to use a minimum number of seven panel of experts as stated by the original experiment by Dalkey and Helmer (1963) and a maximum number; with many views among which are 12 participants (Cavalli-Sforza & Ortolano, 1984; Phillips, 2000), 15 participants (Delbecq et al., 1975; Linstone & Turoff, 1975; Martino, 1983); Adler & Ziglio (1996) and 50 participants (Linstone & Turoff, 1975; Witkin & Altschuld, 1995). Regardless the total size for the Delphi technique is dependent on the scope of the problem and the resources available (Delbecq et al., 1975). If it is too small, it would not represent the target issue and if it is too big it would reveal the weakness such as a low response time and more time taken by each of the participant (Hsu & Sandford, 2007). Therefore, this study used a total amount of 13 panels of experts. This is an appropriate size to create a SCGI instrument with a high reliability as proposed by Dalkey et al. (1972), which is a reliability amount of 0.9. Moreover a total number of 13 participants for this study satisfied the recommended size by the majority of other researchers, which ranged from seven to 15 people.

  • Duration of the Study

The time taken to complete all three rounds until all the experts made a unanimous decision was a total duration of six months. This duration satisfied the objective of the researcher; moreover Ludwig (1997) stated that the questionnaire method itself would slow down the process of the research study as it would take several days or weeks. This is aligned with the views from Delbecq et al. (1975), Ludwig (1997) and Uschak (1983) who proposed that a minimum of 45 days should be the minimum duration for the administration of a Delphi-based study. The success by the researcher in obtaining a unanimous agreement within the prescribed duration was due to the good cooperation given from the panel of experts; besides the researcher did conformed to the recommendation of Delbecq et al. (1975) who proposed a duration of two weeks given to the experts to submit their response. This resulted in the researcher constantly reminding and requesting for the results and feedbacks from the participants during the application of this technique.

  • The Delphi Process

The study was undertaken in three rounds. Figure 1 is a graphical representation of the process followed in the Delphi technique study.

Figure 1. The Delphi Process Followed in this Study

  • Data Collection

The data was collected through three rounds of Delphi technique. The methods used were an open-ended questionnaire and a close-ended questionnaire during the first round and a 4-Point Likert Scale during the second and third round. Each round consisted of 13 panel of experts until a unanimous agreement on 43 items were made by the third round.

  • First Round

The first round of the Delphi technique aimed to verify the created data based on the literature review done. This process utilized the open-ended questionnaire and the close-ended questionnaire that worked to obtain all the specific information about the related coverage content (Custer, Scarcella, & Stewart, 1999). The information obtained was used to generate a questionnaire instrument for the second and third round. A pilot study was carried out on two participants, one who is a Shariah Advisor and another who is an academician before the actual questionnaire was distributed. 13 panel of experts were selected based on a group of professionals according to the established criteria. Although, each of the experts were not aware of the presence of other panel of experts during this particular round. The questionnaires were compiled thoroughly before they were distributed to the panel of experts based on the literature data that was analyzed with more emphasis on the SCGI criteria. The questionnaires data obtained during this round was then organized in a complete instrument which contained dimension and SCGI item that would be later used during the second and third round.

  • Second Round

The second round was performed as a preliminary process to obtain an agreement amongst the panel of experts on the SCGI instruments that was created from the first round. This round and the round after utilized the same questionnaire instrument and it involved the same panel experts. The questionnaire contained items consisting of two parts, (i) Profile of the Gold Investment Institution; and (ii) Shariah Compliant Gold Investment Instrument. The items for both of these stages used the 4-Point Likert Scale which portrayed their agreement on the instruments as follows: (4) Definitely Require; (3) A necessity; (2) Not a necessity; and (1) Does not require. Each participant was allowed to propose additional new items during this second round. All the questionnaires were then collected for further analysis within two weeks after its distribution. The researcher then began to analyze by rearranging the questionnaire and recorded the median scale of agreement amongst the panel of experts and added the proposed new items. A new set of questionnaires was then distributed to the same panel of experts on the third round.

  • Third Round

This round is the last round as a unanimous decision has been achieved. The process of obtaining a consensus agreement on this round is similar to the process in the second round. However, the questionnaire in this round was modified by increasing and decreasing the related items based on the consent of the respondent received from the panel experts during the previous round. Moreover, the panel experts were not allowed to add any new items during this round. In order to achieve a consensus agreement, the questionnaire items that were not agreed upon and are below the median of distribution based on the desired frequency during the second round will be removed. As a result, the questionnaire during this round contains additional space for a median scale agreement by the panel experts during the second round and for new proposed items. The panel experts were required to state their level of agreement on the new items and are allowed to change their level of agreement stated during the second round.

  • Data Analysis

The data collected during each round were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) to obtain the agreed items. There are many methods in determining the consensus through the Delphi technique, among which is through the percentage of vote must be in the specified range (Hsu & Sandford, 2007). This was recognized by Ulschak (1983) who suggested 80 percent of the scale for a seven-point scale, whereas Green (1982) decided 70 percent for a four-point scale. However, the designation method based on vote percentage was not supported by some researchers (Linstone & Turoff, 1975). They proposed a different alternative statistics which are which is deemed more accurate in the Delphi technique that is through the central tendency of mean, median, and mode or measure of dispersion such as standard deviation and quarterly range (Hasson, Keeney, & McKenna, 2000). The median score was also chosen by other literature researchers who used the Likert Scale (Hill & Fowles, 1975). Therefore in this research, the writer has used both of the suggestions above to get an agreement and understanding between the panel experts. The researcher agreed with the proposal from Green (1982) who recommended a 70 percent for a four-point scale or a median of at least 3.25 for the intended purpose. As a result, 43 items were obtained showing a unanimous agreement of up to 95 percent or a median frequency distribution of 3.8.

  • Findings

After the third round, the research established an agreement by the experts based on 43 items in the SCGI instrument. It is divided into four dimensions that are the investor and investment institutions (7 items), the product and prices (9 items), the contract deal (10 items) and the secondary contract (17 items). The agreed lists of items are as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Dimension and SCGI Item

Investors and Investment Institution  1Investor is aged 18 years and above.
2Investor who is not bankrupt (bankruptcy).
3Investor who accepts to the agreed contract without any element of coercion.
4The investor’s representative must be 18 years and above.
5The investor’s representative accepts to the agreed contract without any element of coercion.
6The investment operation of the investment institution is registered with Bank Negara Malaysia.
7The investment institution has a member of the Shariah Advisory.
Products and prices8The gold exists physically.
9The gold has full ownership.
10The gold is transferable.
11The gold can be delivered on the spot.
12The weight of the gold is measured accurately based on the current standard weight measurements.
13The weight of the gold must be accurately known by the investor during the time of the contract.
14The weight of the gold must be accurately known by the investment institution during the time of the contract.
15The price of the gold is known to the investor during the time of the contract.
16The price of the gold is known to the investment institution during the time of the contract.
Contract Deal17There were offerings and acceptance made whether verbally, in writing or online.
18The bargaining and acceptance were not met with a long silence or conversations which are of no relevance to the contract being made.  
19The contract offer and official acceptance is done through the meeting of the investor and the investment institution either through a physical meeting or through SMS, a phone call, email, facsimile or online.
20Complete submission (taqabud) of the price of the gold will occur between the investor and the investment institution before the agreement is concluded.
21Official submission (taqabud) of the price of the gold was done (such as through cash, a legitimate cheque, bank draft, credit card, debit card or money transfer)
22Submission (taqabud) of the gold occurs in terms of hakiki (real) such as through a physical delivery of the gold; or in terms of meaning which is through a direct entry of the actual weight of the gold into the account.
23The transfer of the gold occurs between the investor and the investment institution before the agreement is concluded.
24The contract offer and agreement does not have any conditions that could prevent the ownership from the investor.
25The contract offer and agreement of the gold trading does not have any element of promise (wa’ad) in order to “lock the price” between both parties and only the promise of one party is allowed.
26The contract offer and agreement of the gold trading does not have any element of promise (wa’ad) in order to buy purchase back between both parties.
Secondary Contract27The investor who is putting the gold as mortgage (as collateral) must be informed clearly of the current debt value compared to the price of the pawned gold before the contract is concluded.
28The investor who is putting the gold as mortgage must be informed clearly about the service charge for the pawned gold before the contract is concluded.
29The pawned gold can be returned to the investor or their representative at any time after the completion of debt payment during the agreed mortgage period.
30The pawned gold can be transferred or auctioned by the investment institution should the investor fail to pay the debt during the mortgage period.
31Surplus value from the auctioning of the pawned gold will be returned to the investor after deducting the debt values and the related charges.
32The investor will fully bear the total cost of the auction.
33The investment institution that borrows the gold must return it back to the investor when required.
34The investor who is receiving the gold storage service must be informed clearly regarding the related service charge before the contract is concluded.
35The investment institution that stores the gold must return it back to the investor when required.
36The investment institution that stores the gold and has the permission of the investor to benefit from it is fully responsible to use the gold based on shariah basis.
37The investment institution that stores the gold and is benefitting from it will be fully responsible for the loss of the gold.
38The investment institution that stores the gold without any benefit will not be responsible for the loss of the gold except due to their negligence.
39The investment institution that stores the gold and is charging payment for providing the safe box will be fully responsible for the loss of the gold.
40The contract offer and agreement has no conditions or requirements to give hibah (grant).
41The investment institution that give hibah (grant) must be on a voluntary basis.
42The investor has no right to force any hibah (grant) claims that is awarded.
43The grant is not a form of hilah (fraud) that is to conceal the loan contract which guarantees a return.
  • Conclusion

This paper provides the SCGI instruments that can be used by IFI in order to ensure their products and services are in line with teachings of Islam. This instrument has a high reliability as it has been reviewed and agreed upon by 13 shariah experts in this field. Thus this instrument can be used as a guideline in producing a new product or to conduct shariah audits for existing gold investments as to ensure it meets the requirements of the shariah. Moreover, the investors and consumers can choose the best gold investment scheme that is aligned with the shariah based on the items presented in this paper.

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