When he founded ShariaPortfolio in 2003, CEO Naushad Virji received many well-intentioned suggestions to choose a different name. Being in the United States, just a couple of years after 9/11, the wariness about the word "Sharia" was understandable. But Virji had no qualms about it. "Anyone who had an issue with the name wasn't a client that we're looking to serve," he says simply.
One of the biggest challenges in halal investing is mitigating risk. In conventional (non Shariah-compliant investing), investors use bonds or GICs (Guaranteed Income Certificates) to lower their risk and exposure to the stock market. However, since these investments are interest-based, they can't be part of a halal portfolio.
A halal portfolio needs to be composed of equities, or shared ownership in real assets, such as companies which produce goods and services. Since businesses may make profits as well as suffer losses, this is where the risk comes in. While the fates and fortunes of individual businesses may go up and down, most businesses still need to occupy some real estate. One way to mitigate risk and diversify a halal portfolio is to invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
In this time of global economic uncertainty, being an investor is stressful. If you have a halal portfolio, you may even feel the ups and downs of the stock market even more than conventional investors. This is because a Shariah compliant portfolio would exclude interest-based investments like GICs (Guaranteed Income Certificates) and bonds. These investments provide predictable incomes and don't change in value the same way stocks do. Without such fixed income investments to mitigate risk, investors with halal portfolios are particularly sensitive to stock market volatility.
When Mihami Shash started a new job, one of the benefits she was offered was the opportunity to participate in the company’s matched-RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) program. The company had set up a number of investment options that the employees could use to save for retirement and as an incentive to invest in these, the company would match each employee's contributions.
It's not often that God and financial services are mentioned together in one sentence but Iana Financial's mission statement is an exception: "Towards God-centred community financial services, for the common good." Since 2009, the Edmonton, Alberta based organization has provided interest-free loans across Canada and the world to relieve people of the burden of usury and to help them pursue their goals.
Ijara Community Development Corporation (Ijara CDC) is a non-profit corporation which structures Shariah compliant transactions for home buyers in the US and Canada. Since it started operating in the US in 2005 and in Canada in 2008, it has helped thousands purchase homes through Shariah compliant financing contracts.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, upon which the religion is built. Usually translated as almsgiving, zakat is a requirement on Muslims (both male and female) of sound mind who possess at least the minimum amount of net worth deemed to classify them as not in need.
Despite the Islamic prohibition on interest or riba, many, if not most Muslims have credit cards. While it’s possible to use a credit card and never pay interest by paying off the full credit card balance each month, it doesn’t always work out this way. Any number of situations such as emergencies, unexpected expenses, unstable income or loss of employment can lead people to carry a balance on their card and accrue interest on their debt. From there, getting out of debt can become a very difficult challenge.
Of all the things that observant Muslims try to avoid, interest is the most challenging. It seems impossible to get by in today's world without it. How do you finance your education, buy a home, start a business or get out of a jam when you can't borrow money with interest? What does Islam say about it? Is all interest bad? What is interest for? How does it work? What does it do to people and society?
Whether or not you invest in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), with the March 1 RRSP deadline around the corner, February tends to be the month Canadians talk about investments.
Investments don’t only help your money grow, they are also a good way to keep your money from losing value. Whether we realize it or not, money kept in a chequing account loses value over time due to inflation.
For Canadian Muslims who want to invest in the stock market but don't have the confidence to pick halal stock investments on their own, the choices have always been limited. If you're looking to invest more than a few hundred thousand dollars, you can hire a financial advisor knowledgeable in Shariah compliant investments. If you're investing less than that, you can invest in a halal mutual fund, which charges management fees of 2.5% or more. That's it. So when Wealthsimple announced their Canadian Halal Investing portfolio in August of this year, it was reason to celebrate.
One of the best tools for savings and investment we have in Canada is the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). You might have received calls or emails from your bank about it or maybe you’re heard about it compared to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
One of the biggest challenges Muslims face when it comes to reconciling their faith with their finances is home ownership. With house prices starting in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, how is it possible to buy a house without borrowing money through an interest-based mortgage?
With the RRSP deadline on March 2nd, many Canadians are wondering and worrying about where to invest their hard-earned money. For Muslim Canadians, the challenge is two-fold, as not only are they looking for investments that are financially sound, they also need to ensure that their investments are religiously sound, or Shari’ah compliant or halal (Islamically permissible).
The financial system has played an active role in the accelerated development of the world economy, particularly since the Second World War. However in recent years the system has become plagued by persistent crises, one after the other, making it clear for all that a financial system based on interest, produces a debt-ridden society.
The world is drowning in debt: personal debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, national debt, sovereign debt. Our financial system finances the consumers, the businesses and the government, including local government institutions, by creating debt. In the U.S., federal debt is over $14.5 trillion and states like California are basically bankrupt. In Europe, Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy. And with Spain and Italy looking to refinance hundreds of billions worth of debt, the crisis appears to be far from over. For all we know, this may only be the beginning.
As a wave of change sweeps the Islamic world and Muslim countries are opening up to plurality and democracy, citizens of these countries now have the opportunity to play their role of a strong civil society. But for civil society to become sustainable, development in indigenous philanthropy is required. The heavy reliance on foreign donors was never an effective solution to local society as it promoted an orientation to the needs and perspectives of the donor, rather than the community served. A heavy or exclusive reliance on government funding is worse as it comes with a heavy hidden tag price. Fee-for-services and other forms of income have also proven to be unsustainable.
In the 2011 federal election, the Conservative Party ran with the promise to drastically lower corporate tax to 14 per cent by 2013. Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government has already brought the corporate rate from 22.5 per cent to 16.5 per cent, with a further reduction to 15 per cent scheduled for 2012.
The Tories say that a corporate tax cut will stimulate the economy by boosting spending. Those who oppose them say that tax cuts only help the rich because they can lead to a reduction in government revenues that often translates in reduced government spending on important social services relied on by those earning lower incomes.
Recently the Ottawa Citizen reprinted published an article titled “Nobel winner Professor Yunus defies ouster call”. The article mentioned that supporters of Prof. Muhammad Yunus in the West were deeply concerned by what they saw as politicized attempt by the government of Bangladesh to remove him from Grameen Bank which he founded.