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230 Imams Got Together at the AMJA Conference to Discuss Islamic Home Financing in America. Here’s What You Missed.

If you opened this article to find out which Islamic mortgage companies are halal and which ones are haram, then save yourself the time and close this page now because you won’t get it here.

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the annual AMJA [Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America] conference. They cover a different topic each year and this time it happened to be home financing. This is a topic I’ve had a personal interest in for some time, regrettably caused a stir over a while ago, and have a vested interest in now particularly because of the DebtFreeMuslims project I am involved with.

How I Snuck Past Security to Get In

The first struggle was figuring out if I could even attend. It is an Imams conference after all. But it was taking place in my city, and I really wanted to hear the discussions on the topic. I decided to go ahead and register.

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You can see that the conference does have room for guys like me, although its quite a long and depressing scroll down to “Mr.” (as someone eloquently pointed out to me on Twitter).

It also just so happens that this good looking (sorry he’s married now) guy, who happens to be the CEO of MuslimMatters, was helping organize the conference. I had him verify it was ok to sign up.


Putting the “Muslim” in MuslimMatters. Because Muslims matter.

Turns out the registration wasn’t that strict – a few locals usually end up attending depending on the topic. In general though, it’s for imams and the conference content is tailored accordingly to that audience.

Overview: Setting the Stage for a Real Discussion on Islamic Home Finance

Upon registration we received a comprehensive notebook with research papers examining the contracts of various Islamic mortgage companies. Various scholars at AMJA did their best to go through the contracts. They made observations on what they felt were pertinent to the shariah compliance of these contracts along with some suggested changes. Before you ask – no, I cannot share these notes [more on that in a minute].

The way the conference was set up was that a scholar from AMJA would make a presentation about the contract, and then the company (we heard from about 6 different companies this weekend) would then give a presentation. These were done by some combination of their executive/administrative members and scholars on their shari’ah boards.

Sh. Salah al-Sawy

Sh. Salah al-Sawy

The encouraging part of this for me was that it was the first time I heard a lot of these issues being discussed openly and in detail. It also seemed like the first time some of these companies were speaking openly with an organization such as AMJA. I have to commend the scholars for showing by example the proper adab for these types of situations. I was impressed that the scholars were able to openly speak about the issues without anyone taking it personally.

The main shortcoming was that it seems proper notification was not given to the companies about how the discussion would take place. This became readily apparent as the presentations went on. The research from AMJA wasn’t made available to the companies with enough notice to get answers from their shari’ah boards. Unfortunately that made it feel a bit like a congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball, but nonetheless it was a good step.

Ideally, the research from AMJA should have been given to the companies a couple of months in advance. This would have allowed them to take suggested changes into consideration and then come back to a conference like this and explain what changes they made, and if they couldn’t implement something then why.

In addition to the banks, we also heard from a small housing co-op. It wasn’t critiqued in detail, but some pointed out that while it may be seemingly more shari’ah compliant in terms of the actual contract, it also faces difficulty in that it carries higher risks, long wait times, and is not scalable to actually be a national solution [the second they commercialize to that scale, they would be subject to the same regulatory requirements that throw a wrench in the other finance contracts].

The majority of discussion was at a very academic level, and analyzing very specific issues in some of the contracts and the mechanisms by which it was achieved. We learned the basics of the various Islamic companies, their core business, the types of financing they offer, and examining those specific contracts in light of shari’ah concerns and suggestions to fix objectionable parts of the contract.

As for the outcome of the conference, the finance companies’ shari’ah boards will look at the points raised at AMJA. They’ll go back and forth with each other for a bit and then present the final research to a larger assembly of global scholars to try and get final rulings. This process will take a few months. No final rulings were issued on any company at the conference (that’s why I told you to stop reading this post earlier if that’s what you were looking for).

The Big Picture

Islamic finance has to satisfy:

  1. Shari’ah Constraints – so its halal.
  2. Regulatory and Legal Requirements – so the government doesn’t shut you down.
  3. Investors – There has to be a viable business so people can make money [interest is haram, profit is not].
  4. Customers – Someone actually has to buy this thing you’re selling.

What this lays out for us is the big picture. A shari’ah compliant contract cannot exist in a vacuum. Otherwise, as common sense would dictate, every single one of these companies would just have a 100% shari’ah compliant contract that had no objections and just use that. But because we live in a world with specific realities, that is not the case.

Traditionally, the borrower/lender relationship in Islam is one of charity. Now it’s the predominant mode of business. No matter what solution we try to provide, we have to understand that solution is being implemented within a global system that is based on interest. This presents a number of complex realities that must be dealt with.

What may look like “repackaging existing mortgage contracts” on the outside is actually years and millions of dollars of research trying to figure out how to jump through hoops to put a shari’ah compliant program in place without crossing the boundaries set by their advisory boards and things like the AAOIFI standards.

We don’t see the research process that went into how the contracts were developed. Often times it consists of taking a shari’ah contract, trying to implement it then running into a legal or regulatory roadblock. Then they adjust the contract, within bounds of shari’ah to bypass that roadblock and move on til they hit the next one, and so on. This is further complicated by the fact that many of the government regulations are themselves nonsensical. Add to that how different contracts have implications in terms of taxes and so on and it gets complicated quickly. Some of the contracts are 200+ pages in length, and what we often see is a summation in English that doesn’t truly represent what went into the decision making process.

A lot of us sit back and assume there are simplistic solutions to these problems. Foreign investors are hard to find because they get better rates of return in other emerging markets. One of the reasons is due to government subsidies to keep the prices low (another complication to the whole process).

One thing that validates a lot of what is written above is the fact that many of the Islamic finance products are not available in certain states in the US. The reason is because complying with the regulations in those specific states would force them to bend the contracts beyond what their advisory boards would consider to be acceptable in regards to the Shari’ah. This costs them millions of dollars in business.

One question that comes up is to say that we should force the system to change. Here’s the truth. As far as Freddie and Fannie are concerned, the entirety of the Islamic finance industry here is barely a rounding error on their 2 trillion dollar+ balance sheet (as David Loundy from Devon so eloquently put it). The other sad reality is most Muslims simply do not care. How many Muslims would willingly take a mortgage where they had to give up a share of the profits when selling their house? One company said they tried it in a limited format and no one would sign up for it. Less than 10% of the Muslim audience is concerned with Islamic financing, and of that 10, only 1% are truly concerned for the shari’ah. The other 9 will simply go with whoever has the cheapest monthly payment. Some might say this is pinning ourselves in a corner and a position of weakness, but it’s reflective of reality.

Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo and Shaykh Yusuf Talal Delorenzo discussing the contract of Guidance Financial. Imam Sphendim Nadzaku moderating.

Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo and Shaykh Yusuf Talal Delorenzo discussing the contract of Guidance Financial. Imam Sphendim Nadzaku moderating.

By the same token, even with the big picture realities we deal with, the details cannot be overlooked either. Even though a lot of details and technicalities were discussed – those details are still extremely important. In many cases they can change a contract from being prohibited to permissible and vice versa.

The details help determine whether some of the liberties being taken are truly to fit the system, or if they’re a back door to interest. Are the contracts providing an illegitimate loophole for some kind of evil aim, or utilizing legitimate flexibility to fulfill a noble aim? We are truly in need of work-arounds to achieve the aims of the shari’ah and make things easy for Muslims. The details help make sure that the overarching wisdom of the technicalities within the shari’ah are complied with and not completely stripped of meaning. When this happens, people begin mocking the shari’ah altogether.

Going forward, I think it’s important to understand the roles at stake and how they can provide good checks and balances. I think AMJA serves an essential role in that they can provide outside scholarly insight. This is critical in that it’s a shari’ah advocacy and can do it’s best to provide an outside check on contracts to make sure Islamic principles aren’t being compromised. The everyday Muslim consumer also plays a role in that they can demand more transparency from these organizations. I personally felt a lot of debate that’s taken place over the past few years could have easily been avoided with some level of openness. But until we demand it, there is no incentive for anyone to open up. These components together can help push us toward a viable Islamic finance model in the US.

Litmus Test for Selecting an Islamic Finance Company

This is vital for most of us. We forget sometimes that we aren’t experts in Shari’ah, regulatory requirements, economics, or finance. This means at some point we must put our trust in established scholarship and make a decision. How do we know what company to pick, especially if we’re unable to navigate the murky waters of finance and regulations?

1. Is the Islamic finance company adhering to the AAOIFI standards?

Scholars from both AMJA and the finance company advisory boards advocate operating within the AAOIFI framework (one of the few points of agreement :)). This is the auditing organization for Islamic finance institutions. They all get their certifications from AAOIFI, which is headquartered in Bahrain.

2. Do they have a qualified independent shari’ah advisory board? Has this board actually issued a fatwa? And do they interface regularly with the institution?

You can look up the scholars on their board and see if they are trustworthy and qualified. Not just any scholar can sit on these boards, but they need to have expertise in the fiqh of finance and also an understanding of modern finance.

Unfortunately some companies are independently running without actual scholarly input. An example of this is a company that posts a fatwa thats similar to the model they use, but they don’t have an actual shari’ah advisory board.

I feel compelled to mention that only one company that presented at AMJA had no scholarly board. In fact, they seemed to take pride in that fact and bragged that they “don’t buy scholars.” The other companies supplied AMJA with updated contracts and information, but this company would not do so unless AMJA signed a non-disclosure agreement that essentially said they would sue AMJA if they said anything bad about them. When given a chance to present their side of their finance model at AMJA, they simply spoke in broad cliches and made some thinly veiled personal attacks at the AMJA scholars which was truly disheartening.

I mention this story to illustrate a couple of things. First, it is true, there definitely are companies that are operating outside relatively agreed upon frameworks. Because they’ve completely disregarded scholarly oversight, they make it difficult for anyone to take them seriously, but worse – they entrench the stereotype of just playing with the shari’ah and throwing together a conventional mortgage with a new package. Second, I mention it because it actually gives much more credibility to the other organizations. Simply showing a willingness to be transparent with an outside body like AMJA and discuss these issues in detail in such a venue gave me an immense amount of respect and confidence in their efforts.

Personal Reflections

Since the conference ended, I have been inundated with messages on Twitter, Facebook, email, and even phone conversations (that’s the sign of it getting serious). I’ll start by sharing some of the sentiments others have expressed to me and offer some closing thoughts at the end.

All Islamic Finance is a sham. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. We don’t need Islamic finance anyway.

Being cynical is definitely the easy route. It takes more work to be able to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I’ve struggled with this myself, but finally hearing things in the open had a large effect on me. There are sincere people who have made huge sacrifices to try and figure out a way to bring halal alternatives to us so that ultimately we can achieve our goals in a halal manner. It’s extremely disingenuous to throw the whole thing out dismissively.

When you hear from scholars who have dedicated themselves to this field longer than most of us have been alive – you develop a huge appreciation for the work they’ve put in, and how foolish it is to just cast the efforts aside.

They’re just in it to make a bunch of money.

Interest is prohibited, profit is not. As long as the service is halal, I’m okay with it. As for why some companies might charge more than a traditional bank it simply comes down to volume. Big banks (you know, the too big to fail kind) have millions in write-offs built into their budgets. They can afford to do this because of the level of revenue they have. A smaller, Islamic, institution simply doesn’t have that kind of flexibility.

These scholars don’t know what they’re talking about. They just find loopholes to do the haram.

Most of us are not experts in finance, economics, business, law, government regulations, Islam, fiqh, usul al-fiqh, fiqh al-mu’amalat, financial transactions, and Islamic finance. Heck, most of us don’t even know Arabic. We don’t even know what bay’ ul-‘eenah and tawarruk are. It’s ironic then, that we presume ourselves to have a higher expertise on every single one of these subjects than scholars who are experts in these subjects. Let’s give them some benefit of the doubt.

Sh. Yusuf Delorenzo from Guidance Financial addressing the conference.

Sh. Yusuf Delorenzo from Guidance Financial addressing the conference.

What really strikes me, is that most people who make these accusations would never say it to the face of one of these scholars.

That’s not to say they’re above making mistakes or anything like that. The point is that there’s a way to handle those. I feel that the AMJA conference is a good first step in that direction. People with actual credibility and training in these subjects can challenge objectionable points and work with them to try and find resolutions.

It wasn’t terribly long ago that our parents’ generation was putting down roots here to raise us. This meant figuring out ways to make a living, try to put their kids through college, build masjids, Islamic schools – and yes, buy homes. Due to the lack of options, they invariably took traditional mortgages from the bank. We’re at least blessed in the sense that we have some options. We can agree that there’s a lot of work to be done – however, it’s up to us to advocate for a particular solution. Do we want to just kill the whole thing because we have some deep seeded animosity toward it? Or work with it and hope that better solutions continue to emerge for the next generation?

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Amad


    February 26, 2014 at 1:11 AM

    jazakalalhkahir for this

    I too have found extremely annoying the negative attitude around islamic financing. Yes, it has issues and needs to mature, but are we going to bury our heads in the sand and think that most Muslims can live without financing? Buying a house is a human need, as I said before (and got skewered I think), and solutions need to be found.

    what is really critical is for the scholars to get down to names as most lay folks just want to know which company they can do business with.

    You are right that most Muslims would not want to pay an extra penny for halalness and then they justify going to regular mortgage companies by saying that islamic finance is a sham anyway. But there are people who would be willing to part with extra cash if only there is a significant consensus that the company is halal.

    • ibnabeeomar


      February 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      We recorded a podcast with Sh. Yusuf Delorenzo and he talked specifically about why buying a home is a need.

      For me the bottom line is, regardless of where you fall on that debate, muslims *will* buy homes anyways (whether there’s a halal option or not). we gotta figure out a way to help them do so in a halal manner.

      • Avatar


        February 26, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        This is a silly thought process ; do you advocate the distribution of condoms to kids b/c regardless of whether you show them its haram, they *will* still have sex?

        The proposition of this logic if fraught with fallacy.

        Moreover, the notion of buying a home vis-a-vis conventional mortgage smack dab against what Allah (swt) has prohibited.

        “You who believe, fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for riba, if you are indeed believers. If you do it not, **take notice of war** from Allah and His Messenger.” –

        Qur’an 2:278-279.

        This is the only time in the Quran where Allah declares war.

        Let’s repeat that for effect,

        Allah is informing those who consume riba that they are at war w/ Allah.

        The crux of the problem lies with understanding – rather misunderstanding – the notion of what is at stake here. There is no need to buy a home if even the slightest of ambiguity exists in the process as it would involve dealing in Riba. Because frankly if you have the ability to put forward a down payment and make monthly payments to the bank, you have the means to rent.

        • ibnabeeomar


          February 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM

          “they *will* have sex” so facilitate them getting married. great attempt at a straw man argument with the condom example though, good effort.

          • Avatar


            February 26, 2014 at 11:42 AM

            Agreed. Facilitate a *proper* way of getting them married. Not encourage them to get mutah b/c they will have sex anyway.

          • Avatar


            February 27, 2014 at 2:27 PM

            The condom argument wasn’t a false argument at all. Yes, riba may be a bit more ambiguous in some instances then zina, but it’s still a severe sin.

            The only real solution to this problem is to show Muslims that there are ways of saving up for a house and/or finding an unambiguous, 100% haram-free method of buying houses.

            “we gotta figure out a way to help them do so in a halal manner.”

            Absolutely, and I would like to say, if there is doubt then they should stay out.

        • Avatar

          Umm Aasiyah

          February 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM

          This issue is so important to me that I am commenting here on for the very first time. To the editors, May Almighty Allah reward you, what you are doing on this site is awesome and I come here almost daily to get my fix :-)!

          To the subject at hand. One thing that bothers me and gives me a lot of concern is the permissiveness of the rent itself Often times, the rent paid to a landlord is used by the landlord to pay back a mortgage! And most renters are aware. With mortgages lasting 10, 20, 30 yrs, what gives you the certitude that the owners of the apartment complex/house you live in are not using your monthly rent to fulfill their own monthly obligation to the bank!

          So there goes the sincere Muslim who doesn’t want to buy a house for fear of riba, yet lives in a house owned by someone who is using the rent paid by the renter to pay his/her riba based mortgage. Food for thought. Interest seems everywhere and whichever way you turn, it is very very challenging not to get tainted. That is why in my opinion, this development is commendable and sorely needed for muslims living in North America.

          And Allah knows best.

          Jazak Allah kayran for this piece brother. Yes, there are indeed muslims who wouldn’t mind paying extra for truly sharia compliant systems.

          • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

            Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

            February 27, 2014 at 11:50 PM

            Umm Aasiyah

            You bring up a good point, that the rent may be used by the landlord to pay off his own interest-backed mortgage. However, the difference is that your contract with the landlord is halal and his income from it is halal. The fact he is using it to pay off a haram contract is his matter.


            *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

          • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

            Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

            February 27, 2014 at 11:52 PM

            On behalf of MuslimMatters and its staff, I thank you for your appreciation and ask that you remember us in your prayers. And on behalf of the Comments Team, I would like to encourage you to comment more as we need regular readers like you to let us know what is on your mind.

            Best Regards

            *Comment above is posted in an official capacity and does reflect the official views of MuslimMatters and its staff* :)

  2. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    A good perspective of the Islamic home finance issue. Here in the UK we had a number of large mainstream banks introduce shariah compliant home finance plans, but the take up of these products was too low and most ( if not all) have been widthdrawn.

    • Avatar


      February 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Br Saud, This is really interesting and saddening. I thought that since Muslims in the UK are a greater percentage of the population, and more influence than in the US, that a lot of these issues would be resolved.

      Can you give any more information this issue from the UK perspective? Or do most people just rent?

      • ibnabeeomar


        February 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        this was brought up multiple times at the conference as well. just because you create a compliant product doesnt mean there’s demand for it. most ppl are shopping only by lowest monthly payment price.

  3. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Regarding profit sharing paradigms, wouldn’t one HAVE to sell the home at some
    point if the lender needs to make a profit? What if someone doesn’t want to sell
    and views a home as being for life? Further, what if the home’s value declines in the market and is worth less than the money the lender originally lent? The incentive for
    banks is that they make guaranteed profit by treating the loan/money as a product. Business loans where there is revenue/profit to be split/shared between business partners is one thing…but personal loans for things like homes, education, etc. have no enticement for lenders other than profit from treating the money as a product.

    We need to get creative and explore other paths. Maybe we should start organizing Credit Union type organizations where Muslims pay money every month into a community fund, that they then can take loans from for what they need…and which would be self sustained by an investment/withdrawal process. If insurance companies and regular credit unions operate this way, there is no reason we Muslims cannot do this.

    …and ofcourse, also learn some contentment in living with the qadr. If you can’t afford more than a Toyota in cash, then be happy with the Toyota. If your family isn’t so big you NEED a house, be happy renting…or atleast accept the fact that you have to rent until you can save the money, which means accepting it’ll take a long time. Infact I’d say for the vast majority of people, re-learning contentment with the qadr is probably the way to go…with the exception of education loans for which we Muslims should come up with halal solutions for our students.If we just HAVE to have that house or Mercedes though, maybe it’s time we started thinking creatively.

  4. Avatar

    Wesam Berjaoui

    February 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Salaam Alaykum Omar,
    Jazak Allahu Khair for your informative, detailed and unbaised reporting on the event. It was spot on and if I knew it would have been so detailed I perhaps would not have attended and just read your post :)
    Salaam Alaykum,

    • ibnabeeomar


      February 26, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      jazakallahu khayr! good meeting you at the conf as well

  5. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Salaams. A good recap, and I have a few suggestions and criticism.

    One, sentences like this should be avoided.

    that this good looking (sorry he’s married now) guy, who happens to be the CEO of MuslimMatters, was helping organize

    Would this be appropriate to say if the organizer was a sister?

    that this good looking (sorry she’s married now) girl, who happens to be the CEO of MuslimMatters, was helping organize

    This detracts from the article and makes it less professional.

    Two, was there any women in the gathering, either as a scholar or as a bank/financial representative? What about from the audience? This is a legitimate criticism as women in US are usually responsible for major decisions such as home or car purchase. Did the registration have the option of a Ms, Miss or Mrs?

    Three, it’s really great to hear about scholars discussing the issue in an open and frank manner. However, if there is a negative perception that Islamic finance is a scam, it’s not valid to just dismiss it as cynicism. In Canada, Um Financial went broke and bankrupt (and recently their leader is being sought for fraud charges). Um was the biggest “Islamic” financial company around at one time. Perhaps why people think Islamic finance is fraud should also be examined.


  6. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Keep up the good work, looking forward to more from Debt Free Muslims iA.

    To what extent did differences between Madhaib and various schools play a role in the discussions? Or are the vast majority of principles/details of Islamic finance agreed upon by most of the scholars present?

  7. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM


    A while back, I emailed a scholar who has studied this stuff and asked him:

    As someone who is involved in Islamic financing, what would you say is the main reason that scholars go into this field? Is it genuinely to try and find and support ways of avoiding riba in today’s world, and to help muslims to be able to do things like buy houses without getting into riba? I mean no disrespect at all by asking this to you, and apologize if it sounds like I do.

    His reply:

    The practice of thinking well of others (i.e. giving others the benefit of the doubt, known as husn al-zann, a basic aspect of Islamic etiquette) and the basics of etiquette (adab) with people of knowledge (`ulama’) would suggest that we think that the fuqaha’ and experts active in this space are seeking Allah’s Pleasure by acquiring beneficial knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah and disseminating it.

  8. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    I hope there can be a discussion of how Islamic Financing companies get the money to lend and if it is permissible. Most Islamic banks are usually just middlemen between conventional banks and muslims.

  9. Avatar

    Azhar Azeez

    February 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Thank you so much Akhi Omar Usman for this article. I applaud you for the the humor you added or else it would have been very dry

  10. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I’m one of the most vocal critics of Islamic finance and remain so. While I appreciated much of the empathizing in this post for the work and efforts that go into creating this contracts, I think we have a number of ways we can make this discussion unproductive, unnecessarily emotional, and turn it into a them-vs-us fight rather than sharing views.

    A good example of this is what was mentioned earlier in the post – that it’s not our job to call into account the intentions (e.g. in it for money, looking for loopholes, etc) of anyone, and in fact, we should respect the difference of opinion even if we (in my case vehemently) disagree with the conclusions. I think it’s fair to say a number of people on the side that I’m in at perhaps the laymen’s level likely have fallen into this.

    On the other side, however, I believe it’s fair to say there are emotional arguments which have no place in this discussion. “Scholar X spent more years studying, so keep quiet” is something I saw on facebook as well ;) Many experts, Islamic and otherwise, have dedicated their lives to their studies and have come to conclusions we radically disagree with, and as an example, it’s why many of us are not atheists, we may or may not eat zabiha meat, and we may or may not believe in strict calculations in moonsighting. So let’s subtract the “because the authority said so” argument out. We should respect authority, but disagreeing with authority and finding agreement in another authority’s opinion is not a problem, I hope.

    In the last discussion we had on this topic, I pointedly stated to brother Mobeen the following which you’ve again reaffirmed:

    “How many Muslims would willingly take a mortgage where they had to give up a share of the profits when selling their house? One company said they tried it in a limited format and no one would sign up for it. Less than 10% of the Muslim audience is concerned with Islamic financing, and of that 10, only 1% are truly concerned for the shari’ah. The other 9 will simply go with whoever has the cheapest monthly payment.”

    Fundamentally, we have a much larger problem than shariah compliance – most people just don’t care and we’re not providing an adequate solution, or we’re trying to find some way to make an interest-based amortization schedule halal without asking if there are other ways to step out of the system, and even if we agree that homebuying is a need (I don’t, but let’s just assume it is), are there alternatives? Is cash only a possibility?

    Yes, it is. For those who think it’s a need, it is possible, plenty of average people making nowhere near what many Muslims make are doing it right here in these here United States. But the problem is that most Muslims, in my experience, beyond barely practicing the 5 daily prayers, want to max out on square footage and options, as much as any bank will spare them with the cheapest payment plan affordable.

    So for those whining, “Fine what’s your solution bro?”, my solution is to follow the example of the people in this country, nonMuslim, who have preceded you in buying a home by saving up and paying for something reasonable. Do a google search on “How to buy a home with cash” and you’ll have plenty of examples and blog posts from individuals and how they got it done. Is it hard work? Sure – but you did say it’s a need, didn’t you? If your credit was not high enough for a loan, you’d work on fixing your credit until it was and rent in the meantime, the same if you didn’t have the money for down payment.

    There are other viable solutions that are working, and with due respect to those who have put in hard work and effort in the service of the community by attempting to find a shariah compliant solution, I personally believe any solution that still raises many red flags on the shariah-compliance side, is being designed for customer-base that places primacy on profit over taqwa (which again affects the design of the contract itself), and if I may tangent, supports our banking system’s propaganda on home ownership vs rent and drops the owner into crushing debt to line the pocket books of bankers should be discarded in favor of debt-free solutions in which the cost of ownership is a combination of smart budgeting and setting your sights a bit lower on how pimped out your house will be.

    Finally, irrespective of non-scholarly credentials, most of us layfolk who don’t believe in Islamic financing as it stands want to understand, as you mentioned Omar, the details of what makes these contracts halal as there is a major lack of transparency. So far, what I’ve heard is, we have all these problems, the contracts are not perfect because of state and federal regulations, so go easy on us. No problem, but are these legitimate contracts period, or are these the best you can come up with given the situation? Meaning, as it’s structured due to regulations and not the intent of the companies and shariah boards, it remains defective in shariah compliance, but perhaps some steps less so than conventional banking?

    And if that’s the case, is it appropriate to tell practicing Muslims, the 1% who would take the hit on profits, to jump into these setups, given that they would never take conventional bank loans unless forced to since now they are moving from an existence of halal to “less haraam”?


    • ibnabeeomar


      February 26, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Great arguments. You’re right about the technicalities on the contract – im very interested to see what the final fatwas amja releases are. amja gave suggestions on the contracts that would make them shariah compliant, now its a matter of seeing what they do/can/wont/cant implement of those suggestions.

      another question i had in regards to that that i still need to get answered is what specifically nullifies a contract – ie if theres one bad clause is it like 80% halal or totally out.

      about the “respect the scholars” bit – i emphasized this in my post just because in this area particularly (ie islamic finance) i think the cynicism is way above average, as are the accusations hurled around, judging their intentions etc.

      as for buying a cash on house.. i think we need to push that but for whatever reason the community is not there yet. same is true of student loans… same is even true of credit cards. its just a huge uphill battle to get people on board for this. doesnt mean we shouldnt push it, but at the same time in my head it means we also need to go ahead and push for the islamic alternatives (even if they have shortcomings).

      overall agree with ur points actually and a lot of good questions raised.

    • Avatar


      February 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Siraaj – I want some clarification on the “disagreeing with scholars” issue.

      A lot of the disagreements that we have with scholars on this issue are done publicaly (FB, twitter, talking with friends, etc), however how many of us (myself included) has reached out to one of the scholars on an advisory board of an Islamic finance company and sought clarification on how they came to that conclusion.

      Like you said, there is room for disagreement and that should be encouraged, however I would like to add that there should be a respectful process to that disagreement as well.

      • Avatar


        February 26, 2014 at 9:13 PM

        There’s a meta-discussion that must occur before we can even talk about this, and I brought this up recently on facebook, and it’s this – can the layman share his views, and even take a definitive position, without being shamed for “not knowing his place” when his position is based on the following of relevant authorities, meaning he says, “After research, opinion X rather than Y makes the most sense to me, and here is why.”

        I believe that no person, scholar or layman, should be shamed for their opinions, and in the case of the layman, for sharing why they follow that authority’s opinion, and why it makes sense to them.

        What tends to happen in many discussions you’ll find online is scholar A takes a position and attacks the opposite opinion as though it’s just the random, uneducated closemindedness of a few laypeople when in fact the laypeople are simply themselves following an opinion. Then the fanboys and fangirls of said scholar will repeat the attacks as though, yes, there’s no authority behind this at all. No question of their academic credentials ensues, of course. And then, once all the laypeople start bickering online in proxy among themselves, they all start getting attacked for starting fights and not knowing their place. I see this pattern among all groups, not one particular group, and it is a *human* problem.

        So let’s answer your question – how many of us have reached out to one of the scholars on the advisory board? Let’s say after reaching out I still disagree – do you think when I express my opinion people will say, “Well, at least he talked to them,” or will they say, “Who does this guy think he is, he’s disagreeing with scholar X, Y, and Z? Doesn’t he know their credentials? Does he know his place?”

        As a layman, I can seek opinions from various experts and come to a conclusion and hold an opinion. It’s not a legal opinion – it’s an opinion of what I think is correct, based on what was explained to me and I can share that, provided I’m not calling out or attacking people. I’ve posted at length my thoughts here and in other discussions, and I challenge someone to find one statement where I ever belittled the scholars, and where I did not preface the discussion at some point with, “This is a difference of opinion among scholars, and even if we disagree, we must respect the disagreement.” That is what I believe is principled – attacking people who hold views, calling them to account for their lack of credential when they are already following an authority with credential is perhaps the ultimate strawman and, yes, shame grenade.

        Additionally, asking the authority is not practical / scalable. For example, Mufti Taqi says clearly on his website:

        “I have already mentioned that I have approved the scheme of Guidance after vetting all their documents. It is not possible for me to explain to every individual the reasons for each and every clause of the documents. However, if someone finds a clause in clash with Islamic principles, he can copy that particular clause and send it to me along with his objection.”

        He does, however, have a nice primer explaining himself here:

        I’d recommend reading that for better understanding as its well-written and concise and meant for laypeople to read about the different setups that can be used for legitimate financing, in his opinion.

        So while I agree disagreement should be respectful, it has to cut both ways. In practice, I rarely find people principled enough to stay on topic in a discussion with attacking people and their intentions, or acting as though the “other side” (and I mean this for both sides, not just one, and I mean this in other debates, not just mortgages) has no basis of legitimacy via authoritative legal opinion.


        • Avatar


          February 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

          JZK for the reply and the clarification.

          • Avatar


            March 1, 2014 at 4:37 PM

            It’s nice to see that we still have true students who can attend a conference and give you a good detailed and yet concise discussion on what was spoken about.

            JazakAllaahu Khairan also to Br. Siraaj for opening a very needed ‘can of worms’ in response.

            Best discussion i have seen on the comments in a while for any website.

            ‘Abdur Rahman

    • Avatar


      February 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      I agree. I also intend to start buying houses once I can (very cheap ones, and in different countries as well because I might have to leave). I don’t follow the idea that I shouldn’t save up enough money to get a house. Allahu Akbar. Why waste myself and my deeds on some ambiguous contract when I can simply do things 100% the halal way?

      I live in Merced. Houses are pretty cheap here. No joke, I think some run from 20k to 60k. If a family pools in money, it can work.

      One can argue that even if a decent job is available, locations of cheap homes are “bad.” Kind of like those who would justify student loans to become doctors.

      However, the reality is no human being has the right to pursue there dreams no matter what the cost. We have limits set by Allah aza wa jal. One cannot give an ultimatum to Allah aza wa jal and say “If you don’t give me this, I will disobey you.” Disobedience only hurts the sinner.

      There can’t be any true satisfaction in haram. That which is good and halal is better then that which is filthy and haram.

      As for ambiguous, complicated contracts-whoever enters doubtful matters is almost certain to enter into haram.

      In any case, maybe we can pave the way for a new generation of more austere living. A Muslim should be the least dependent on the creation. One thing I am extremely interested in is zero energy homes like this-

      • Avatar


        February 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        In addition…….this life is going to be over very soon. The Sa’ah is approaching and we are coming closer to our written death dates. Why not be more concerned about the permanent home?

  11. Mobeen


    February 26, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Asalamualaykum Omar – great write up. I really appreciate the nuance expressed in the article and challenging the dismissive attitude expressed by cynical non-experts.

    I think on an individual level, if a person wants to be cautious and avoid the entire industry, that is their prerogative. I respect such a view and havent pursued Islamic finance (yet..) for much of the same reason, among others. What is important is that a person does not take their cautious approach as an entitlement to present it as a more Islamic and religiously authoritative perspective, particularly when people espousing full avoidance are admittedly non-experts and their criticisms dont come close to scratching the surface of understanding the various considerations that go into a true fiqh discussion. For too long I think the discourse around this topic has been dominated by such voices, and inshaAllah this article and AMJA’s recent conference contribute to fostering a more intelligent, informed discussion of Islamic finance. Jazak Allah khayr bro.

    • ibnabeeomar


      February 26, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      jazakallahu khayr and very well put

  12. Avatar


    February 26, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    This is a very insightful article but I agree with Brother Siraaj’s critique on this issue. I don’t think that criticism of Islamic finance is even a modern problem. I believe it was ibn Taymiyya that had the fatwa against tawakur and bay al-eena. Piety has been in struggle against profit for some time.

  13. Avatar

    O H

    February 26, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    Jazak Allaahu Khair really useful article for me since I am looking to study Islamic Finance from INCEIF or IIUM in Malaysia. The thing which scares me is how Islamically legit the Islamic Finance companies are which could be my future employers if I do graduate with an Islamic Finance degree. May Allaah provide blessings and guidance to this extremely important sector for the Muslims and the rest of the world. The light of the quran and sunnah anyday over riba!

  14. Avatar

    The Salafi Feminist

    February 27, 2014 at 2:33 AM

    I’m a cynic and a skeptic when it comes to Islamic home financing, as I do not consider owning a house to be a “need” in any way… whether as a Shar’i recognized “need” or even a secular one. There are *many* non-Muslims who have figured out that the idea that one MUST own a house is just a propaganda-driven agenda by those who benefit from the idea in the first place – the banks.

    It really ought to be as simple as renting until you can save up enough to pay for a home up front. And in many ways, when people move from city to city and sometimes even country to country for work, studies, etc. it can be more convenient to *not* have a property to stress about… and that’s not even considering how many natural disasters have been taking place and destroying properties. Imagine being steeped up into the eyeballs in debt, for… what? That which is delicate enough to be destroyed by a tornado, hurricane, flooding, storms… Is it really worth risking declaring war on Allah for, if there’s a chance that even the ‘Islamic home financing’ option constitutes riba in some way?

    • Avatar

      Azam Hussain

      February 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      I strongly agree with this comment. We live in a very pricey housing market (chicago) and made total 70k a year between both me and my wife (that is before I subtract any expenses). Rent an affordable place and save until you can get a modest place with cash. The problem is that people (Muslim and non-Muslims in the US) don’t want to curtail any of their spending and want to get a house that is way nicer than what they can afford. People will tell you that you’re crazy but believe me you can do it, especially with housing costs where they are right now.

      TIME Magazine had a cover article on “The Myth of Homeownership” a few years ago that is well worth a read. Even now that we have, alhamdulillah, successfully purchased a house, I wonder if I should have listened to that article! Compared to renting, we have to pay for all repairs and maintenance and a ton of property tax.

    • Avatar

      O H

      March 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      “I also know from experience living in a home that as much as we want to pretend the costs add up in our favor, they don’t”

      From personal experience this is NOT the case living in Sydney but I am not too sure regarding the cost of housing/renting in the various states of US. There are significant savings we have been able to make after the house purchase compared to when renting although I do agree that a house buyer may end up under-estimating the extra costs associated with house ownership.

      However the costs of house ownership would be extremely severe and terrifying if it is done in a haram manner and leads us to the Hellfire! May Allaah Subhana Wa ta’ala protect us, ameen.

      There is much more barakah when things are done the halal way and this issue of barakah is beyond our comprehension and beyond the arithmetics. Allaah is the best of Planners and assists those who have tawakkul/reliance upon Him and those who are in their hearts content.

    • Avatar


      March 2, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      One simply cannot save forever and hope to buy a house. The maths simply does not work that way. I live in Toronto. Let’s take an average person’s starting salary. $50,000. If he saved 100% of that money (NO taxes, no expenses such as rent, food etc.), it would take 15-16 years before he can pay cash to buy a house. And that is assuming house prices are not going up every year, which they are. So someone who says just rent and save, that is being impractical.

      • Amad


        March 3, 2014 at 12:56 AM

        Agreed. Most people who have been able to afford something on cash have found a “special deal”– a bonus from work, cash from family, a windfall from a small investment, etc. The numbers just don’t work out if you do the math fairly.

        And those who don’t have access to those special deals and have a basic middle of the road income, would have to live a miserable life for 15 years to be able to afford something remotely decent and that also depends on the area you live in. In many cities, the prices of good homes have gone well above $150k. I think we need to stop this obsession with unpractical solutions, and if we don’t like islamic finance, come up with other creative means to finance islamically. Otherwise, most people will just ignore the obsession and move on.

      • Avatar


        March 4, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        Just looked at real estate in the Toronto area, maybe you could be more specific about what kind of house you’re looking for? Just one search and I thought an estimate of $750,000 for a house ($50k x 15 years) was a bit on the high end.

    • The Salafi Feminist

      The Salafi Feminist

      March 8, 2014 at 2:31 AM

      My parents are nowhere near wealthy, yet alHamdulillah they’ve *never* taken a loan from the bank (or from anyone else, for that matter). I grew up between Vancouver and Victoria, Canada, and in that time, we always lived in rented homes – a little older, perhaps, but mashaAllah very spacious and adequate for a family of six.
      Even now in Malaysia, my father’s income is less than that of many others, yet mashaAllah we’re living in a home that is comparable to those with higher salaries.

      When I lived in my own apartment in Kuwait, my ex’s salary was significantly less compared to those from our background and even in the same field that he was in. Yet, we managed to rent an apartment that was perfect for our needs, less expensive than those with bigger apartments, *and* nicer and more spacious.

      With all the talk of $$$, I think we tend to overlook the reality of barakah in our rizq when one intends to do what’s most pleasing to Allah. Yes, we do need to be careful of our money, but more importantly, we need to be careful of how we are spending that money and on what things, and with what intentions.

      And, of course, there is also the issue of lifestyles and standards. Growing up, one reason we were able to stay in a nice rented home was because we didn’t spend much money on eating out and entertainment; we were creative in how we did those things and saved a HUGE amount of money in doing so. We didn’t have TV, video games, etc. and even books and toys were bought at a discounted price, yet of good/ high quality.

      Again, what you choose to spend your money on, and what intentions you have, directly impact the amount of barakah in your rizq and how far you’re able to make it stretch.

  15. Avatar


    February 27, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    I have heard tableeghi jamaat people help each other buy house in cash. The amir/leader decides who deserves/need money most and they buy him the house and everyone is contributing etc. Ist it true

  16. Avatar

    Abu Muhammad

    March 1, 2014 at 2:54 AM

    I don’t know what they call in urdu, but there is a system where a bunch of people join and each month some-one gets the money. You put in a certain amount every month, and eventaully when your turn comes up, you will get the money all in a lump sum.

    For example – There are 12 people, and each one gives a $1000 a month. Every month this will equal $12,000 dollars. So each month 1 person gets that amount all up front. Then they would have to wait until the next year when they are selected again.

    The benefits of this is that you can ge a large lump sum all at once, rather than having to save it up yourself.

    • Avatar


      March 1, 2014 at 4:14 AM

      It’s called “committee” and this works for small amounts but buying a home through this means is impractical. Say a home costs a 120k, its unlikely you will find 10 people willing to shell out 10k each everyone month ; if you expand the circle to 20, you will still have to pony up 5k a month. 5k a month is the average take home (post taxes) of a 100k USD a year job. So your circle a potential folks who can contribute to this committee is small ; generating a wider circle creates time and trust pressure.

      • Avatar


        March 2, 2014 at 12:26 AM

        This is more accurately translated as “savings pool” in English, and a brief Google search showed me that there are people who are using such methods to purchase homes and make other large purchases. See this link for one example:

  17. Avatar


    March 1, 2014 at 4:20 AM

    “So for those whining, “Fine what’s your solution bro?”, my solution is to follow the example of the people in this country, nonMuslim, who have preceded you in buying a home by saving up and paying for something reasonable. Do a google search on “How to buy a home with cash” and you’ll have plenty of examples and blog posts from individuals and how they got it done. Is it hard work? Sure – but you did say it’s a need, didn’t you? If your credit was not high enough for a loan, you’d work on fixing your credit until it was and rent in the meantime, the same if you didn’t have the money for down payment.”

    I *heart* you browski.

  18. Avatar


    March 1, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Ameen Housing Co operative also presented its program at AMJA conference. It’s a members owned housing investment co operative, where money is pooled thru members’ investment and houses are purchased on Musharika basis( profit and loss sharing), so there is no bank or RIBA involved. Ameen Housing , located in Santa Clara, California , has more than 500 members and more than 60 homes have been bought since it’s inception in 1996. With Allah’s mercy, it never suffered any loss. Investors share dividends earned thru the rents of properties bought by Ameen Housing. Check out their website :

    • ibnabeeomar


      March 3, 2014 at 1:39 AM

      there’s also a long waiting list, and it’s not a scalable solution. ie – if they tried to grow it nationally, it would then become subject to the same regulations that others have to deal with. additionally, i might be wrong – but i think there’s a much higher risk as well since they money is not securitized?

  19. Avatar


    March 2, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    As-salamu Alaykum,

    I noticed a few comments stating that home ownership is not a necessity, but I think it really depends on the individual and his or her specific situation. Muslim families tend to be large families, and it is not always possible for a large family to rent an apartment due to laws regarding how many tenants are legally allowed within a certain space. Cheaper places also tend to be in bad neighborhoods, and this has certain implications for children who will eventually go to school and grow up in such environments, which are often rife with gangs and drugs. Personally, I have seen entire families crammed into basements or one-bedroom apartments in bad neighborhoods, and the situation really becomes uncomfortable for the kids as they get older and need more privacy. The situation often leads to kids spending more time on the streets, which leads to other problems. The schools in these areas are usually also pretty bad.

    I think that there are different solutions one can think of (such as moving out of the more expensive cities or trying out the savings pool idea mentioned above), but people should also understand that there are a lot of families out there that are desperate for immediate solutions. This is an issue that should be discussed more often so that people know what their options are. I am sure that many Muslims prefer not to take interest-based loans from banks but might feel that their only hope of getting their kids into better schools or neighborhoods is to take such loans.

    One interesting thing I have seen once or twice is a mosque being established in a bad part of town where the real estate is cheap. Over time, Muslims will gravitate towards the neighborhood and start buying homes and businesses there. Within a few years, the neighborhood becomes a “Muslim” neighborhood. When this happens, the residents might establish an Islamic school or charter school to start taking care of the community’s educational needs. Although my main experience has been with living in California, the same has happened in other communities (such as the Jewish community in New York). The more Muslims live close to each other, the more they will support each other and find their needs met within their own neighborhoods. Although moving out to the suburbs is a solution for some, this also isolates you for the community, which can be something negative for children as they grow older.

    • Avatar


      March 2, 2014 at 1:03 AM

      I mean isolates you “from” the community.

  20. Avatar


    March 2, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    To those advocating paying rent till eternity….what happens when you retire (Almighty Allah sparing your life) and the monthly paycheck ends. Would everyone be able to afford rent in retirement? Not all of us will have kids nor will all of us have kids that will be capable of taking us into their own homes in our abject old-age.

    • Avatar

      O H

      March 2, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      The point many people are trying to make is renting is better than purchasing a house in a haram manner. The latter isn’t the only option for survival which unfortunately many people believe. A lot of Muslims regard their highest priority to be buying a house by hook or crook with little or no care for the major sin of being involved in riba/interest. If Muslim families can come up with ways to save and acquire a house through halal means then they should go for it as i has benefits which you have mentioned. If not they should not compromise the deen to fulfill their wants, especially considering the severity of riba. If there are legitimate Halal finance options available which are approved by righteous trust worthy scholars, then one can avail from it even if it costs more than a conventional riba-based loan. I wouldn’t want to get a cheaper or fancier house in this dunya through riba if it leads to a house in jahannam in the akhira.

  21. ibnabeeomar


    March 3, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Re: Buying a home on cash and “you cant save when the average salary is $xx,xxx”

    Keep in mind that the savings takes place over a number of years. Also, its practically impossible that one’s salary stays stagnant over that period of time. i.e. someone who makes 50k now, even with a nominal 2.% raise yearly would be closer to 57k after 5 years. also if they switch jobs in that timeframe, most people get a 10-20% bump in pay when that happens. so even at 50k now, its quite reasonable/realistic to assume they would be making decent amount extra over that within a few years. the trap is to have the discipline to save toward a home and not spend elsewhere.

    I believe Dave Ramsey quoted that most people who aggressively follow their debt plan are able to pay down a mortgage in about 7 years time. if someone is focused on the goal of buying a house on cash, its feasible that it can be done in 7-10 years, provided you don’t increase your lifestyle and save all extra bonuses (work raises, extra cash flow, etc) toward a home. it’s most definitely not easy, but i think it’s doable.

    additionally, if one were to save that money in a mutual fund with an 8% return:

    Initial investment of 5k, save another 700/month for 12 years, you would have 185k saved.

    if you start with 5k, and save 1k a month and your mutual fund gets 12%, you would have 250k saved in 10 years.

    • Amad


      March 3, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      8% is just about reasonable. 12% is unrealistic. Saving 1k a month after paying rent consistently is also not easy. One can also argue then about the islamic principles around mutual funds. Do you really think they are more developed and more halal than islamic financing options? It’s the same can of worms.

      I agree that you could pay a mortgage off quickly– that is because you are immediately saving about 1k/month due to not paying rent.

  22. Avatar

    Meraj Mustafa Siddiqui

    March 3, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Assalamoalekum Warehmatullah,

    SubhanAllah, amazing depth in the discussion – no wonder that there are no easy/direct/solitary answers. Will try to summarize my observation and research on this subject:

    1)Tauheed is a declaration, and a life long responsibility and may Allahtaala give us taufeeq to live and die as a true believer – Aameen!
    2) If we build (Tauheed-Taqwa) consistently, we should never talk, feel, convey, demonstrate like people at a loss. As a true believer is never at a loss as long as he is grateful for his success and patient in adversity.
    3) 1435 years ago the extremity of circumstances, the might of the transgressors, the unwillingness of those in power was much much higher than we can ever imagine. Absolutely no doubt, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was with them but still the people who believed and obeyed, had to believe and obey to see the success they ultimately achieved, after years of hard work, patience, sacrifice and what not. The vocabulary from all of us will fall short but we cannot put the strength of the believers of that era into words.
    4) Of course, unfortunately we are no where like them. We need easy answers, less hardships, comfort of this life, there is no end (I include myself – Astaghfirullah).
    5) Having accepted point #4, what is our way out – build taqwa that whether we get old, whether we have children, whether we live in N.America or otherwise it is Allahtaala who provides, who decides, who gives and takes, (Chapter 3 Verse 160 Al-Quran – a clear challenge from Allah on providence of everything) O Allah please forgive us for we do not understand – Aameen!
    6) Now some more direct answers, lets tell ourselves we will buy when Allah gives us money and the circumstances, and make effort and dua to accomplish it.
    7) Save whatever you can In Sha Allah and ask Allah to give barakah in the rizq of all believers including yourself, and then if Allah has willed a home, you will get it In Sha Allah. Does anyone of us have an assurance for the next moment, the assurance is from Allah only.
    8) The current Islamic home financing schemes (ones in Canada), I have done the maths Alhamdulillah and they do not justify the monthly payments that you need to make. Second they put 80% risk on the buyer that is us, from day one (irrespective of Capital), so if the market crashes – only Allahtaala will help us.
    ( look under disposition for 80% risk.
    9) This is my 5th year in Canada, and Alhamdulillah I see Muslims have done a good job as far as setting up Masajids are concerned (Ottawa and Montreal where I have lived) but there are obvious admin issues. One major point is that there is regional bias over who controls what, very very unfortunate.
    10) Solutions: Lets get together first, lets get one – we are the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) we say he came for the entire mankind, but we are not united, how will we bring the rest of humanity on board. And I am not saying to wait for every Muslim to come on board, but lets get much more than handful – remove all barriers of language, color, regionalism, school of thought. Lets get one for the sake of Allah and his Rasool (S.A.W.)
    11) Lets set our priorities – we need schools that teach what we want (we are paying taxes, we are citizens of these countries), we need to empower our women (mothers/sisters/daughters), we need our own financial institutions which are in no way less than any of the famous banks in the west. I know this is a big dream, but we need to start thinking – see the big picture. May be the results will come long after we are gone but we need to sow the seeds now.
    12) Takaful (sharing risk), could be one great start but even for that building ourselves as a community is a pre-requisite. There are over 200 thousand Arabs in Montreal (unconfirmed), I don’t have a count for the people from the subcontinent but a simple calculation 25$ every month from 100K people would generate 2.5 million dollars every month which further implies 30 million in a year. I rent my home, and I have a bare minimum insurance and I need to pay 25 dollars every month so I have based the calculation on that amount. Alhamdulillah I don’t even care when and where those 25 dollars go every month. My concern is can we find 100K Muslims in each of the big cities or lets do this over the whole of N.America. Lets go out asking for 25 dollars every month for 2 years – the idea would be set up halal schools, small businesses, buying homes for elderly (who cannot afford or don’t have children to look after). The same model should ultimately help us finance homes, which complies with Shariah 100%, and is competitive. The pre-requisite is that we need to be united, become one in practice, just not say that we are one.
    13) On a concluding note, I have heard this that our imaan will be complete only when we want for our brother what we want for ourselves – so we have to bring in selflessness, and flesh out selfishness, pride, anger, just about all emotions of negativity.
    May Allahtaala give all of us taufeeq – Aameen!

    Join my group on linkedin

  23. Avatar


    March 4, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Salaam alaikum,

    I really liked your take home messages. We can all argue about how halal this or that initiative is, but the reality is – as you pointed out – the majority of Muslims do not care. THAT is the situation that must change and one of the ways it can do so is by conferences/ articles such as this challenging attitudes and reactions of those who do care.

    In the UK, the largest “sharia-compliant” HSBC Amanah shut down. When I asked why, they said that they discovered that Muslim customers just weren’t interested in Halal mortgages. They had 3000 customers out of a population of nearly 3 Million Muslims.

    When I checked if they meant that Muslim customers didn’t feel that their products were sharia-compliant enough, the said that whilst that may have been a factor for some people – the absolute majority just didn’t care… PERIOD.


    • Avatar


      March 7, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      It’s not just sad, it’s the reality of the little bubble that many religious muslims are living in, thinking that if we did enough research and found a halal solution, people would choose it.

      The reality is that in the minds of others, it’s not a problem to begin with. The idea that riba is a sin in the minds of many is so theoretical and not grounded in modern day reality that it doesn’t register as a type of consideration at all.

      We don’t need shariah compliant mortgages – we need to teach islam, period.

      • Avatar


        March 7, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Br. Siraaj,
        I would have to disagree with you somewhat.
        I admire your willingness to have a good opinion of Muslims, but reality
        is most of them know full well about riba being haraam AND how it is haraam in their daily lives. It’s not that they don’t know practically, or that’s it theoretical, not grounded in reality, etc. They just don’t care. When presented w/ the test of dunya and deen, many Muslims are failing the test when it comes to riba. The enticement for that big house, nice luxury car, etc. is TOO enticing for many to resist.

        What many Muslims have lost is the idea
        that some things MUST be sacrificed in the dunya for the deen and especially the willingness to accept that or put it into practice. Neither Allah nor Rasul said it would be easy…but that is lost among many of our brothers and sisters. Easy to grow the beard, say prayers, hike the pants up above the ankles or eat halal…but give up the BMW or 5 bedroom house in a nice suburb? Ahhhh…that’s so much harder. You’re giving majority too much of a pass. They know full well what they are doing. Infact they know it SO well they could teach YOU Islam and then give you a million rationalizations for why they’re not adhering to it. You are too kind bro.

        • ibnabeeomar


          March 8, 2014 at 1:00 AM

          I find it troubling to have such a negative and cynical view of the ummah in general. I understand the sentiments behind what you’re saying, but let’s have some hope/optimism in people. i think we have to get past this discourse of “that muslim is so evil because he drives a bmw” – its as if we won’t accept anyone’s testimony of being a Muslim unless they force their family to sleep in the street out of piety.

          i agree w/siraaj’s comment here. the vast majority of people don’t see it as an issue. for example, if a liquor store owner were to become the imam or a regular khateeb – huge segments of the community would be in an uproar. but if a guy made a living from running a payday loan service, most people would not find it objectionable. there’s a bigger picture issue here, and this attitude of “they’re so attached to the dunya theyre not real muslims because they want a house in the suburbs” doesnt really seem to accomplish anything, nor is it compelling in any way.

          • Avatar


            March 8, 2014 at 1:33 AM

            Br Ibn Abee Omar…
            I don’t think a Muslim is evil because he drives a BMW, even if it was paid for WITH interest. One sin does not an evil person make…nor does it take them out of Islam. I am in no position to make such a judgement and would not do so. If you take a look at my commenting history is sufficient to demonstrate that I don’t hold such views. Infact I’ve been called non-Muslim, etc. on this very site by other commentators because they deem my views liberal or un-Islamic. Let’s not be hyperbolic. I’m most definitely not making takfir of anyone or judging them on the whole nor calling for them to sleep on the streets.

            I do NOT however buy the argument that Muslims are taking interest bearing loans out of ignorance. Absolutely disagree with that. Most of them know full well what they’re doing and there is a clear choice for dunya over deen in many of these instances, though ofcourse it goes without saying that it does not take them out of Islam or make them evil overall.

            For instance, your example/analogy about liquor stores/pay day services is easily explained by human psychology:

            MOST people take loans, most people do NOT own liquor stores. It’s always easier to criticize something that oneself is not engaged in, and if everyone or close to everyone is taking loans there will naturally be less criticism. Who wants to indict themselves, especially among us Muslims who seem to have a lot of issues with self-criticism?

            There is a problem with wealth and the attraction to wealth/luxury in our community. Not only with houses and cars..but extends to things like marriage. I think to deny this
            is denying an important part of the discussion. Sometimes there
            is truth in cynicism and it is reality. I most certainly am not making takfir or absurd demands that people adopt homelessness to prove their Islam as if I am anyone of importance that they should have to prove their Islam to me.

        • Avatar


          March 8, 2014 at 2:50 AM

          It’s not simply a matter of having a good opinion. I grew up with the Muslims who were Muslims on the “main” issues if you will, be either didn’t have a clue about things like financial transactions, or didn’t think it made sense for reasons like “renting is more expensive than buying” or “renting and mortgages are the same anyway, right?”

          And then there are Muslims who are religious enough to avoid things like drinking, alcohol, dating, and so on, but think riba and such is not a big deal because it’s hard to understand that this is a sin.

          As Omar mentions above, everyone will be up in arms about a khateeb who’s a liquor store owner, but if he’s a banker? Masha’Allah, a professional is giving the khutbah, no one except the imam will think twice.

          If you want to really understand how badly we misunderstand riba, my local masjid has a notice on the wall – the statement from Chase Bank for the loan they owe and the monthly mortgage payments they’re making – they even took a riba loan to build the masjid! I asked the imam how this could happen, and he was like, I told them not to, but they didn’t listen, lol. And these are not people doing it for “dunya” reasons, they wanted to build an Islamic center for the community.


          • Avatar


            March 8, 2014 at 5:12 PM

            Br. Siraaj,
            Have responded to these concerns and questions in a response to Br. Omar, but I suppose has not gone through moderation yet.

            Let us discard the phraseology of “are Muslim”, “were Muslim”, etc. We can all agree a persons Islam does not hinge on one aspect of their lives, let alone one act…nor are any of us in a position to make that judgement. In so far as what is Islamically ACCEPTABLE and how many Muslims tend to compartmentalize, “rank” and adhere to certain practices or not, I agree with you that the phenomenon unfortunately exists.

            First, must define what is MEANT by ignorance. If you define the term as many Muslims having been misinformed about what riba is, I agree…some Muslims are ignorant in that fashion. For instance I have read some Muslims make the claim that riba is only compounded interest, ie. usury….not predetermined interest. These Muslims are misinformed and can benefit by your suggestions.

            But if ignorance is defined as Muslims simply not knowing at all that riba is haraam, I disagree…and I also think that many Muslims know exactly what it is, the truly ignorant being a relative minority. Brother, when my father was growing up in Kandahar “sood khor”(interest eater) was a derogatory term used by everyone from rich landowners to poor farmers to describe people both taking and paying interest. Dirt poor illiterate farmers in Kandahar knew this prohibition and the negativity associated with it, but educated Muslims in the West don’t? This is a bridge too far for me to believe.

            Hence my response to Br. Omar’s example of the dichotomous treatment of liquor store owners vs. pay day loan officers: Not everyone owns a liquor store, but most people take loans. It is easier to criticize what oneself or most people don’t do. Most people take loans and many Muslims work in the financial services industry or businesses that somehow deal with interest (accept credit cards, auto dealerships, etc.), so they will not criticize someone who does the same.

            The same is true when it comes to my fathers recollection about sood khoran. In old days Afghanistan most people didn’t take loans…there wasnt much reason to, except for people in truly desperate straits. But here in America, the land of plenty…much more temptation to take those loans for the sparkly material goods.

            This is human nature brother. People will adjust and rationalize based on their interests and their situations…and your mosque example actually falls perfectly in line with my earlier statement to you of finding rationalizations. Ask the people at the mosque and I guarantee you they will tell you it was “fardh kifaya” because Muslims “need mosques”, etc. I heard Shaykh Hamza give that very line when critiquing loans for medical school in the mid-nineties, that we “need Muslim doctors”…and he was right.

            Infact, the reason that we are being more sensitive with this issue as opposed to things like zina, alcohol, etc. is because SO many Muslims are engaged in it that we don’t want to alienate them. Public opinion and public reaction plays just as much a part in what is talked about in Muslim circles as is true in political circles.

            So again, as I said I originally: I disagree with you SOMEWHAT. Yes some Muslims are ignorant of the facts…but my disagreement is that many are not. As I said to Br. Omar, we have a serious problem with greed, attraction to wealth, etc. in this ummah and that HAS to be part of the discussion. Even Rasul(s) stated in his hadith that he feared the test of wealth for this ummah more than anything else.

          • Avatar


            March 10, 2014 at 6:21 AM

            Yeah, this isn’t Kandahar though. I don’t know much about the cultural norms of Kandahar, but I do know those over here. I know very few people who really understand the severity of riba, or whether it still applies in “modern” times. Between a number of mixed fatwas and miunderstanding why riba is forbidden, most Muslims either don’t know, don’t care, or think it’s not “modern-day” applicable, unfortunately. It’s why most people are just looking for a cheaper deal and care very little about shari’ah compliance.

          • Avatar


            March 10, 2014 at 5:15 PM

            I agree brother…the reasons are varied.
            In-so-far as Kandahar, my point was that there wasn’t much reason to take loans, but those same people would take loans here because the some of the cultural norms here will entice them to.

            We cannot discount things like the consumerist culture that’s propagated here from government to media on down. That has a massive impact on thinking and values. As you said, it is varied…that’s all I’m saying. It’s not all people chasing the good life, it’s not all people who are ignorant, it’s not all people who are misinformed…it’s a mix of everything.

      • Avatar

        O H

        March 8, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        “We don’t need shariah compliant mortgages – we need to teach islam, period”

        I agree with the latter part of the statement, not the former. I think it is absolutely essential that the scholars and corporations hold such conferences and have more frequent transparent exchanges such as this so that they may Insha Allaah come up with solutions such as Shariah compliant mortgages, etc. I don’t know why so many are over skeptical regarding this. I am confident at the piety and creativity of the scholars to help develop legit Islamic Finance tools in co-operation with Muslim entrepreneurs/thinkers because ignorance and indifference in this issue is leaving the Muslims exposed ONLY to the riba-based loans. I understand many of the so-called Islamic loans are scams and the sadly a huge section of the Muslims are not too serious regarding how Halal/Islamically legit loans are but I want to be optimistic that proper solutions could be engineered Insha Allaah! I admire the severe scrutiny of Islamic Finance Organisations and their products by the AMJA scholars and this can also help restore a bit of confidence among the Muslims regarding the future of proper Islamic Finance products.

  24. Avatar

    Mr. Mohamed

    March 4, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    Br. Omar,
    Are the results of this conference (lectures, notes, research, ..etc) going to be shared with the muslim community? Was there an intent of the conference organizers to share this knowledge after the conference?

    • ibnabeeomar


      March 4, 2014 at 5:40 PM

      I’m not sure. I heard they might release some of the videos but i havent gotten any official update

      • Avatar


        March 13, 2014 at 2:51 AM

        Any update on the conference (lectures, notes, video, photos)?

        • ibnabeeomar


          March 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM

          havent heard anything, i imagine it will be a few months

      • Avatar

        Jay Abed

        April 18, 2014 at 2:24 AM

        Are you coming to the Islamic Finance Conference brother?

  25. Avatar

    Jay Abed

    April 18, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    We will be having an Islamic Finance Conference June 14th, 2014 Sat 9-5pm link here

  26. Avatar

    Adnan Memon

    October 15, 2014 at 4:37 AM

    Here is their final ruling and list of companies:

    Br. Omar you may want to publish a new article on these results as a follow up to this article.

  27. Avatar


    November 13, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    salamo alaykom
    You all will hate me ! but I don’t care since if u really fear him subhanah you can afford wasting this minute
    To the poster and most commentators I’m not a scholar nor a finance specialist , don’t master arabic and don’t memorize whole quran I know I’m a shameful person but I do know that one of the meaning of ta9wa for a companion is to stay away from a potential halal fearing to fall into a haram that’s piety (BTW it’s only of the comparisons between million of us and one of them!).
    I’m not rich and live in same situation as you where daily my nafss tells me you’ll need a lot of time to get enough cash for a house !
    Please play with me this fictive scenario(you’re free to go away anytime bro) and put completely the religion apart I just need your logic: If we’re now in a casino where the minimum bid is a $3000 and this amount is not only all you have in your pocket but it’s the only money you have! will you play ?!! and why??
    You’ll all say no coz that’s the only money we have and there is a risk we can loose it . Ok but you can afford playing your life knowing that Allah will give you one and only one chance!!!!!!
    Stop excuses of modern life etc… the scholars can’t guarantee you Jannah and everyone knows the real answer on big topics like Riba in his deep heart (that’s why some ppl in order to prove themselves they’re wrong they look for a scholar who might say finally oh you can do it!) Yes being cynical in life is bad but with these topics yes I DO care about my relationship with Allah and I have no excuses : others endured hardship during same exact time their whole life so they’ll be a living witness against me when I’ll meet my lord subhanah wa taala.
    I respect all our scholars but instead of asking them these kind of questions (they’ve a lot of things to take care of!) every one of us should work hard on improving his situation and find alternatives.
    I don’t wanna look to my son and say: As long as the service is halal it’s ok and him responding you know dad being good is not enough ……….

  28. Avatar


    January 13, 2015 at 12:37 AM

    Ameen Housing: (See updated Fatwa below) They are based on a diminishing partnership with rent to own ending in ownership model in their relationship to the purchaser. Their contracts are not sold to the federal institutions [such as Freddie Mac]. They also avoid explicit interest in their transactions. However, their contract does contain some Shareeah objections glitches, such as unfairness in the percentage that they discount in the rent to take care of basic maintenance, expenses that be more or less than that discounted amount. Additionally, they have just introduced a late payment fee [which is another violation of Shareeah principles].
    The ruling of the RFC Committee is that there is no harm in dealing with this company in case of need, although one should do one’s best to make one’s payments on time in order to avoid the late payment fee. The Committee also encourages the company to abstain from those aspects pointed out by the Committee.

    Addendum about Ameen Housing contract (As for Jan 2015)
    All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and may the blessings and peace be upon the final Prophet and upon all of his family and Companions.
    The Fiqh Committee of AMJA had issued a declaration explaining the issues in the contracts of the Islamic Home Financing Companies in the United States. That ruling was based on the contracts that they used at the time of the issuing of that declaration. With respect to Ameen Housing, two issues were of major concern. One was the late payment fee when a person paid his rent late and the other was the issue of the cost of maintenance being properly distributed between the two parties wherein Ameen returned a fix percentage of the rent to the buyer/renter regardless of the actual amount of maintenance expenses.
    After the issuing of that declaration, Ameen Housing—may Allah reward them for responding positively to that declaration—have now discontinued their late payment fee policy and have clarified to the Committee that the distribution of the maintenance expenses is handled in a way that is just.
    Based on the above, the Fatwa Committee now rules that the contracts that Ameen Housing is now using are consistent with the laws of the Shareeah. We have now no Shareeah objection to their practice and it is permissible for Muslims to purchase homes through them.

  29. Avatar

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  30. Avatar


    July 2, 2015 at 11:55 PM

    AsSalamu Alkuim

    May Allah truly bless all those involved to help and make efforts toward what is good and help others stay away from what is not good.
    So what if a group of Muslim investors got together, and they were all part of a like minded people, they want a home and they want to make money so that no one loses. Okay so like 200 people invest $1500 so that is $300,000 enough to by one of the 200 people a home. But where does that leave the other 199 people right. So they buy a fixer upper and the flip it now they have made a profit. So now they can buy 2 modest homes for the group.
    So as long as you are investing you are on the list to get a home and your name moves up. Also every other month the can buy a fixer upper and sell it and make a profit and any additional profit that was not used to fix up the house is now divided among the 200 people. Well maybe the ones who got a home would want to give up their profit since they now have a home. But they would continue to invest monthly into the pot until at least 100 homes have been brought with the hope of the other 100 being in profit. Well this is just an Idea, what other ideas to others have on this forum. Just wanted to know like if we could not find a bank that didn’t want to make a profit off of us but want to help us both make a profit.

  31. Avatar


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Living During a Pandemic, Plan for Death in Your Lifetime

Plan for death, Islamic will

Panic over the global public health steamroller COVID-19 has many of us in the Muslim community thinking about the future: specifically a future without you, the reader, in this world, amongst the living.

There are many articles about how you should not touch your face or how to make bootleg hand sanitizer with vodka to avoid death for the time being. This article will do none of those things. Let’s just assume that no matter your big-box shopping habits or travel plans, you are going to die eventually. Panic is a reflection of our sense of mortality and the care we have for our loved ones and communities.

When you die, you leave behind people, possessions, and often real estate and businesses. You have responsibilities to deal with when you are no longer here, to your family, your customers, lenders, employees, and others. Of course, you can’t deal with these responsibilities yourself, since you will be dead. The purpose of this article is to help you sort out how your responsibilities will be carried out.

Inheritance in Islam

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Everything in the heavens and the earth and all that it contains belongs to Allah. Everything you have that you cannot take with you has been entrusted to you while you are here. Though this is rarely the topic of khutbahs on Jummah (back when we used to do that kind of thing) Islamic Inheritance is fard on all Muslims who have stuff they won’t take with them. Your property is not your own.

Everything in the heavens and the earth and all that it contains belongs to Allah. Everything you have that you cannot take with you has been entrusted to you while you are here.Click To Tweet

Allah has ordained inheritance in the Quran. That means inheritance is not distributed based on your sense of vanity and what you think is better but based on the command of Allah.  This is different from the way we usually do things in the United States. Doing inheritance right is obeying Allah. It is an essential act of worship most American Muslims seem to ignore, to the extent we are familiar with it at all. Inheritance is a bigger deal than most Muslims seem to realize. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in the Quran prescribes hellfire for those who disobey Allah’s command. If you go without obeying Allah’s command on inheritance, that is your parting shot, a legacy of injustice and disobedience to Allah.

Doing inheritance right is obeying Allah.Click To Tweet

There are a great many Muslims I have come across over the years who are offended by Islamic Inheritance; just the notion makes them sick. I don’t know what to do for them.

Islamic Inheritance is fundamental to our society and for maintaining peace in our families and communities. It is a bulwark against intra-family oppression and conflicts, protects orphans while uniformly apportioning rights. It is a remarkable system that benefits humanity. You can read this comprehensive guide on Islamic Inheritance if you want further exposure to the subject. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is reported to have said: “learn fara’id (Islamic rules of inheritance) and teach it to the people.”

So if you gain anything from your current bout social isolation, learn about Islamic Inheritance.


Many people translate “wasiyyah” to “last will.”  This is fundamentally wrong, at least when it comes to the American understanding of what the last will is.  While both are written instructions, the last will and wasiyyah have unique limitations that have no relationship with each other.

You can give up to 1/3 of your estate for beneficial purposes. You could give to charity or those who do not already inherit from you. It is common for beneficiaries of the wasiyyah are poor relatives overseas or grandchildren not entitled to inheritance.  You should read this guide for how the wasiyyah works.

If you go without obeying Allah's command on inheritance, that is your parting shot, a legacy of injustice and disobedience to Allah.Click To Tweet

Guardianship for minor children

For those with minor children, guardianship is often an urgent yet often ignored concern. You should have a solid understanding of what could happen in the event your children become orphans, and there is no living parent. Will they go to child services? Would grandparents fight over them? Might that weird uncle will attempt to get custody and try to convert them to atheism? Do you have family overseas, but they cannot travel to the United States because of a global pandemic?

Of course, you don’t know what will happen. All planning is about creating a rule book for an indeterminate time in the future where you have no idea about the circumstances of the people you will leave behind. You can read an article at MuslimMatters from a few years ago called “how to raise your children when you’re dead.”  I have also prepared a more comprehensive guardianship guide for Muslims.

Guardianship is either addressed through a last will or separate writing in states that allow this. You do not name guardians in a living trust.

Incapacity Planning

This part is not technically planning for death, but it is commonly included in estate planning.  Many people end up living longer lives but are dependent on others. There is a process in every state for the government to take away a person’s liberty, not for a crime they committed, but to protect them from exploitation and financial elder abuse, leading to poverty. Scammers, both online and offline, tend to target people who fit a particular profile.

This legal protective process is called “conservatorship,” and it is costly, and the hearings and documents are public. Part of estate planning is to protect the dignity and privacy of people while their families make decisions.

It is common for people who do their estate planning to have both a living trust and power of attorney. Incapacity provisions in a living trust only cover assets that are registered the living trust. Certain kinds of property, like IRAs, are not owned by a living trust.

Healthcare Directives

States generally have their forms for making healthcare decisions. These are recognized by hospital staff for those times when a patent cannot give them consent to do things. You need to name someone you trust that can make decisions for you.

Healthcare Directives ask questions beyond naming proxies. For example, they will ask about your preference when if you have an incurable illness, in a coma, and doctors are saying you have no reasonable chance of getting out.

These directives may also ask about your organ donor preference. Do you want to be a donor at all? Are you ok donating for organ transplants? Would you mind if medical students dissected your body and posted the pictures on Instagram? Such minutiae won’t necessarily be in these forms, but that’s what they could mean, depending on the permission you give.

Healthcare decisions can be an extraordinarily complex area, with much written about the subject. Your planning documents cannot account for future medical conditions. Whatever you write, other than who has decision-making authority is going to be necessarily vague. Reading these things may leave you wondering about things like what is an “incurable illness”? What is “a reasonable period of time”?

Focus on the concrete, who you trust to make these decisions, rather than potential hypothetical scenarios around your medical care.

These are situations where loved ones face painful choices. You can make it clear who makes decisions; however, no document makes medical treatment issues less difficult for loved ones.

Will or a Trust?

A question for many is, what do you do, living trust or a will? What that question means is should the main provisions of an Estate Plan, which is the overall plan for organizing your affairs, be in a trust or a will, which are both different kinds of documents. When you have a living trust, you almost always have a last will as well. Those who have last will- based plans could have several trusts inside them.

Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and everything else you do in service of organizing your affairs are pieces of paper.  The specific documents you create are ways of fulfilling your goals, they are not the goal by themselves. A trust is a form of a contract with usually no judicial supervision. A last will is similar, but there are instructions for a judicially supervised process called “probate.” The main difference between a will or a trust is a judge’s oversight.

For most everyone with property, we will typically recommend a trust-based estate plan that includes several documents. Like any contract, what a trust says and does can vary widely. To learn more about trusts, especially Islamic Living Trusts, read this article.

A lawyer or no lawyer

Lawyers are expensive. Most people would rather not spend thousands of dollars on something if they could avoid it. Lawyers just produce pieces of paper, right? Why not just do it yourself? Just go to a website that fills out blank spaces in a template and pay far less than a lawyer?

As an Islamic Estate Planning Lawyer myself, I will attempt to avoid saying anything that sounds self-interested. My advice to anyone who asks is that while inheritance is fard in Islam, nothing you do is worth it unless you have peace of mind from doing it. You may be the person that strives to pray, read the Quran, and give in charity and deal with your family with excellence because that is what gives you peace of mind. Do any of these things in a way that makes you uneasy, well, you don’t have peace of mind.

If going to a form filling website or writing a will by hand gives you peace of mind, do that. If getting advice from an experienced attorney gives you peace of mind, then do that.

Merely going to a lawyer, even an especially experienced one, should not give you peace of mind by itself. The lawyer needs your active engagement in the process to make sure you are doing right by everyone. Educate yourself about Islamic Estate Planning to make sure that elements specific to your family and business are the way you want. Estate Planning is one of the most important things you will be doing for your family, and you should attend to it with the seriousness it deserves.

You hire a lawyer because of his or her knowledge of the law, Islamic rules, and experience in developing solutions. You should never hire a lawyer in any situation to act as your substitute brain.

Selecting a lawyer

Estate Planning is a field most lawyers know little about. Many state bars will certify “specialists” in the field.  \However, it is possible for you to find an attorney well-versed in the area but not a board-certified specialist.

Your planning involves contractual, state, and federal law elements. Ideally, you will have a lawyer in your state who is a Muslim and knowledgeable about both estate planning and Islamic rules. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Arizona Attorney Yaser Ali and I (California and Texas licensed) wrote a “Practice Guide” for lawyers called “Estate Planning for the Muslim Client” (2019, American Bar Association). The idea behind this project was to give lawyers, regardless of creed or state of residence, an understanding of Islamic Inheritance and how Islamic rules figure into various established estate planning strategies for Muslim clients.

The book also provides templates and examples. We intended the book to be useful for such lawyers to help their Muslim clients plan. Of course, it is common for lawyers also to get help or co-counsel across jurisdictions. The lack of a lawyer with expertise on Islamic Inheritance rules in your local area should not be an excuse.

For people with few assets

The biggest problem with hiring lawyers is that they usually charge for their services. Many Muslims with relatively modest assets might not think it’s worth it.  However, a woman with a few thousand dollars in assets may want to do something, like name guardians for minor children, name an executor and provide instructions on how to divide her modest estate without giving most of it to a lawyer. In such instances, a “do it yourself” approach may make sense, or at least it’s better than doing nothing.

Islamic will templates are freely available all over the internet, with varying levels of usefulness and value. Attorney Yaser Ali has created a template and form filling website where anyone can create a last will and calculate inheritance and a state-specific will for free. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you should take a look at this resource. It does not replace a lawyer, however.

Burial Instructions 

One place the Muslim community excels at is burial. Most everywhere in the United States, there are volunteers and paid staff who quickly and efficiently deal with the entire process of ghusal, janazah prayer, and burial. We can often measure the time between death and burial in hours, not days. Sometimes there are reasons for a delay, however. In this kind of environment, people don’t look around for instruction documents, other than proof of ownership of a burial plot.

My advice on burial instructions, at least in the local area that I live, for most Muslim families is not to worry too much. Your family and friends will know what to do and don’t need your help in the matter. Sometimes, people want to include detailed instructions; things like women should not cry loudly. Don’t overthink these things.

There are solid reasons for detailed burial instructions, though. One that comes up regularly is for Muslims who do not have Muslim families. For such individuals, merely having burial instructions is not enough. Such a person should name a Muslim friend, or perhaps more than one, in health care documents. People from the Muslim community need to know when a Muslim is sick in the hospital and, of course, when he or she has died.

There is far more to preparing for death, but a whole lot of that involves life itself.

For more on that, attend Jummah khutba when they start offering it again, InshaAllah.

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Advice To Students Starting A New School Year


I remember driving to college orientation over the summer with my father, may Allah have mercy on him. I was going to be going to school out of state, and at the age of eighteen, this was the first time that I would be living away from home. 

We talked about a lot of things, and nothing in particular but one of the stories he shared stayed with me. There was an Imam who had a close circle of students and one of them became absent for an extended period. Upon that student’s return, the Imam asked him where he had been, to which the student replied, 

“Egypt!” The imam said to him, “well how was Egypt!” 

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The student replied, “Egypt is where knowledge resides.” 

The Imam responded, “You’ve spoken the truth.” 

Sometime later, the imam had another student who also was absent and upon his return, the Imam asked him where he had gone to which the student replied, “Egypt!” The imam said to him, “Well, how was Egypt?”

The student said, “Egypt is nothing but amusement and play!” 

The Imam responded, ‘You’ve spoken the truth!” 

There were students who had witnessed both conversations and asked the Imam later why he had borne witness to the truth of two antithetical statements to which the imam replied,

“They both found what they were looking for.” 

I got the message. University could be a place of incredible learning, engagement with ideas, and can push you and challenge you in the best of ways. It can also be a non-stop party. A blur of heedlessness and hedonism that will bring about remorse and regret for that individual in the Dunya and Akhira. 

I think back to that car ride fondly, and I appreciate the predicament of parting advice. A person who will be bidding farewell to someone so dear to them and wanting to give them something powerful that they can hold onto or wisdom that will guide them. Many students in the past weeks have been receiving similar parting advice from their families, and so in this article I wanted to share one of the advice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he gave to a companion that he loved so much. 

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ جُنْدَبِ بْنِ جُنَادَةَ، وَأَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت، وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقْ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ”

رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ [رقم:1987] وَقَالَ: حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، وَفِي بَعْضِ النُّسَخِ: حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ. 

On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu Abdur-Rahman Muadh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said

“Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are, and follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it, and treat people with good character.” (Tirmidhi)

The advice is comprised of three components

  1. Fear Allah wherever you are 
  2. Follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it 
  3. Treat people with good character 

Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are 

Taqwa is the crown of the believer. And it is the best thing that a person can carry with them on the journey of this life, and the journey to meet their Lord. Allah says, 

“And take provision, and the best provision is Taqwa.” 

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ أَكْثَرِ مَا يُدْخِلُ النَّاسَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ تَقْوَى اللَّهِ وَحُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ ‏”‏ ‏

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked as to what admits people into Paradise the most and he said, “Taqwa and good character.” (Tirmidhi) 

And so what is Taqwa?

Talq ibn Habeeb gave a beautiful definition and description of Taqwa when he said, 

“Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, seeking the reward of Allah. And it is to avoid the disobedience of Allah, upon a light from Allah, fearing the punishment of Allah.” 

And so he describes taqwa as having three components; the action, the source for that action, and the motivation for that action.”

To act in the obedience of Allah..

To do the things that Allah commands you to do and to stay away from what Allah prohibits you from doing 

Upon a light from Allah..

The source for the action or inaction must come from revelation, a light from Allah. And this should stir us to seek knowledge so that our actions are onem guided by a light from Allah. You’ve made it to University, you are bright, gifted, intelligent and committed to education.  Do not let be the one thing that you remain uneducated about be your religion. 

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, 

يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِراً مِّنَ ٱلْحَيَاةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ ٱلآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ

They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware. (Al-Room v. 7)  

The prophet (S) said, “Allah hates every expert in the Dunya who is ignorant of the hereafter.” (Saheeh Al-Jaami’)

Make sure that you carve out time to attend halaqas on campus, seek out teachers and mentors who will guide you in learning about your religion even as you are pursuing your secular studies..

Seeking the reward of Allah..

The third component of Taqwa is the motivation:  that these actions that are being performed and that are sourced authentically in revelation must be performed for the sake of Allah, seeking His reward, and not for any other audience. That they not be done for shares, or likes or retweets. That a person does what they do of worship, that they abstain from what they abstain from of sin, seeking the reward of Allah and fearing His punishment. 

Fear Allah wherever you are..

Meaning in public and in private, online or offline, and when in the company of the righteous as well as when in the company of the wicked, in all circumstances a person must be mindful of the presence of Allah..

 عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ قَالَ : ( لأَعْلَمَنَّ أَقْوَامًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِحَسَنَاتٍ أَمْثَالِ جِبَالِ تِهَامَةَ بِيضًا فَيَجْعَلُهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا ) قَالَ ثَوْبَانُ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صِفْهُمْ لَنَا ، جَلِّهِمْ لَنَا أَنْ لاَ نَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لاَ نَعْلَمُ ، قَالَ : ( أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ وَمِنْ جِلْدَتِكُمْ وَيَأْخُذُونَ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ كَمَا تَأْخُذُونَ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ أَقْوَامٌ إِذَا خَلَوْا بِمَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ انْتَهَكُوهَا

It was narrated from Thawban that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“I certainly know people of my nation who will come on the Day of Resurrection with good deeds like the mountains of Tihaamah, but Allah will make them like scattered dust.” Thawban said: “O Messenger of Allah, describe them to us and tell us more, so that we will not become of them unknowingly.” He said: “They are your brothers and from your race, worshipping at night as you do, but they are people who, when they are alone with what Allah has prohibited, they violate it.” 

This hadeeth is a warning for the person who is quick, eager and ready to violate the limits of Allah as soon as the door is locked, or the curtains or drawn, or as soon as they have arrived in a new place where no one knows them. We will sin, but let our sins be sins of weakness or lapses of taqwa and not sins of predetermination and design. There is a big difference between someone who sins in a moment’s temptation and the one who is planning to sin for hours, days or weeks! 

And follow a good deed with a bad deed it will erase it..

When we fall, as we must inevitably due to our being human, the prophet (S) instructed us to follow a sin with a good deed to erase it. 

Commit a sin, give charity. 

Commit a sin, perform wudhu as beautifully as you can and pray two rak’ahs. 

Commit a sin, seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent…

Our sins should not suffocate us from doing good deeds, they should fuel us to doing good deeds. 

Allah says,

وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ إِنَّ ٱلْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ ٱلسَّـيِّئَاتِ ذٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. (Surat Hood v. 114) 

A man from the Ansar was alone with a woman and he did everything with her short of fornication. In remorse, he went to the prophet (S) and confessed to him. Umar said to the man, “Allah had concealed your sins, why didn’t you conceal it yourself!” The prophet (S) however was silent.

The man eventually left and the prophet (S) had a messenger go to him to recite the aforementioned verse.  A man said, “Oh Messenger of Allah is it for him alone?”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No for all people.” 

And so for all people, sin plus good deed equals the sin is erased. That is a formula to be inscribed in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Al-Hassan Al-Basri, the master preacher of the Tabi’een was asked,

“Should one of us not be ashamed of our Lord, we seek forgiveness from our Lord and then return to sin, and then seek forgiveness and then return!” 

He said,

“Shaytan would love to conquer you with that (notion), do not grow tired of seeking forgiveness”

But know that these sins that are erased by good deeds are the minor sins, as for the major sins they require repentance for the many verses in which Allah threatens punishment for those who commit major sins if they do not repent, and so repentance is a condition for the erasing of the effect of major sins. 

And treat people with good character 

And if Taqwa is the crown of the believer, then good character is the crown of Taqwa, for many people think that taqwa is to fulfill the rights of Allah without fulfilling the rights of His creation! The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in many hadith highlights the lofty stations that a believer attains with good character, for example: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، رَحِمَهَا اللَّهُ قَالَتْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لَيُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: By his good character a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day. (Tirmidhi)

عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ يُوضَعُ فِي الْمِيزَانِ أَثْقَلُ مِنْ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ وَإِنَّ صَاحِبَ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ لَيَبْلُغُ بِهِ دَرَجَةَ صَاحِبِ الصَّوْمِ وَالصَّلاَةِ 

Abu Ad-Darda narrated that the Messenger of Allah  ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said:

“Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” (Tirmidhi)

Let no one beat you to the taqwa of Allah and let no one beat you to beautiful character. 

You’ve come of age at a time in which the majority of our interactions are online, and in that world harshness and cruelty are low hanging fruit seemingly devoid of consequences. 

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Whoever lives in the deserts becomes harsh.” (Abu Dawood) 

And social media is a desert, it is an experience where we are all alone, together. 

So choose gentleness over harshness, choose forgiveness over vindictiveness, choose truth over falsehood and protect people from your harm. 

For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “I am a guarantor of a house in the highest part of Jannah for whoever makes their character good.” 

May Allah make us from them. 

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Highly Educated, Willingly Domesticated

Doctor.  Engineer.  Certified Nurse-Midwife. Writer and Literary Critic.  Lab Technician. Parliamentary Assistant. These highly-trained, respected careers are the culmination of years of intense study, training, and self-discipline.  Most people, upon achieving these esteemed positions, would happily dedicate the rest of their working years to putting their knowledge and expertise to use. They would gradually gain more experience, earn greater pay, and amass professional perks.  Most likely they would also, over time, assume leadership roles, earn awards, or become sought-after experts in their field.

What kind of person has all this at her fingertips, but decides to give it up?  Who would trade in years of grueling study and professional striving for an undervalued position that requires no degree whatsoever What type of professional would be willing to forgo a significant salary to instead work for free, indefinitely, with no chance whatsoever of a paycheck, recognition, benefits, or promotion?  

Who else, but a mother?  

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While certainly not all mothers choose to give up their careers in order to raise their children, there is a subset of women who do. Stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) may spend the majority of their days performing unglamorous tasks like washing dishes, changing diapers, and reading storybooks to squirming toddlers, but behind the humble job title are dynamic, educated, and capable women. They may currently have a burp cloth in one hand and a sippy cup in the other, but chances are, SAHMs have a mind and capabilities that reach far beyond the apparent scope of their household duties.  

What motivates a capable and ambitious woman to give up her career and stay home to raise children? Is she coerced into it, or does she choose it willingly? What is her driving force, if not money, status, or respect?  I had many questions for these women -my sisters in Islam and my stay-at-home “colleagues”- and some of their answers surprised me.  

For this article I interviewed seven highly-educated Muslim moms who chose to put successful careers on hold, at least temporarily, to raise their children. Between them, they hold PhDs, MDs, and Masters degrees. While the pervasive stereotype about Muslim women is that they are oppressed and backward, these high-achieving females are no anomaly. In fact, according to her article in USA Today, Dalia Mogahed points out that, “Muslim American women are among the most educated faith group in the country and outpace their male counterparts in higher education.”  Across the pond, The Guardian reports that more young Muslim women have been gaining degrees at British universities than Muslim men, even though they have been underrepresented for decades.”    


Ambitions and dreams

Every single one of the women I interviewed grew up in a household with parents who highly emphasized their daughters’ education. In fact, all of them were encouraged -either gently or more insistently- to pursue “top” careers in medicine, engineering, or science. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the women I interviewed were at the head of their classes at university.

In their school years, before marriage, all of the women I spoke with considered their career to be their main priority; motherhood seemed far-off and undefined. “When in uni,” explains Neveen, an endodontist who eventually put her career on hold to be a SAHM and homeschooler, “I never, ever thought I’d homeschool (nor did I believe in it), nor did I ever think I’d be a SAHM. I was very career-oriented. I was top of my class in dental school and in residency.”

“I absolutely thought I would be a career woman,” agrees Nicole, a mom of three in California who holds a Masters degree in Middle East Studies. “I never considered staying at home with the kids, because they were totally out of my mind frame at the time.”

“I expected that after graduation I would follow a research-based career,” adds Layla*, another SAHM in California who holds a PhD in Computer Engineering. “I never thought I’d stay at home because I believed it was fine for kids to be in daycare. I also thought SAHMs were losing their potential and missing out on so much they could otherwise accomplish in their lives.”

As young women, many assumed that if they ever chose to start a family, they would have assistants, nannies, or domestic helpers to lighten their load. Several of them believed they would put their future children, if any, in daycare. However, the reality of motherhood made each of these women change her mind.  

“My child was highly attached to me,” explains Sazida, an Assistant to a Member of Parliament in England, “and I could not envision him being looked after by anyone else despite generous offers from relatives.”  

“After I had my first child all I wanted to do was be able to care for her myself,” concurs Melissa, a Certified Nurse Midwife from New York.  


Other Motivations

It turns out that maternal instincts were not the only factor that made women choose to drop out of the workforce. Dedication to Islam played an enormous part in their decision-making.

“After having my first child,” explains Layla, “I decided that he was far more precious than working. He is a gift that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave me to protect and care for.”

“After I became Muslim,” shares Nicole, “My goals changed, and I hoped to marry and have children. I do think it was beneficial for my children to have a parent always there to depend on,” she adds. “I feel like I was the anchor in the family for them, and I hope to continue that role.”

“What’s important to me,” asserts Neveen, “Is to raise my kids as good Muslims who love -and are proud of- their life and deen.”

Another reason many highly educated women choose to stay at home is because they have the opportunity to homeschool some or all of their children.  Remarkably, out of the seven women who answered questions for this article, five reported that they chose to homeschool at least one child for a few or more years.  

“I really enjoy my homeschooling journey with my kids and I get to know them better, alhamdullilah,” states Layla.

The opportunity to nurture, educate, and raise their children with love and Islamic values is the primary reason why these talented women were willing to put their successful careers on hold. “Hopefully Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will reward us in Jannah,” muses Layla.



Although none of the women I interviewed regrets her choice to be a SAHM, they all agree that it is a challenging job that is actually harder than their former career.  

One obstacle they must overcome is the negative perception others have about successful women who make the choice to put their career on hold.  “I soon learnt that casual clothes, a toddler, and a buggy don’t give you the same respect as suits and heels,” says Sazida.

One would expect, given their faith’s emphasis on the dignity of mothers, that Muslim SAHMs would enjoy the support of their family and friends.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

One mom explains, “My in-laws offered to look after my child, and my father-in-law couldn’t understand why I wanted to stay at home when there was perfectly good childcare that they were offering. After two and three years passed, he got more and more disheartened that I was not earning and complained about the lost potential income.”

“My non-Muslim mother told me that I wasting my education,” confides Nicole. “She did not support me staying home, though I think she appreciated that I was there for my children and have a good relationship with them.  She was a SAHM as well, so I am not sure where that was coming from, actually.”

Melissa’s mom was similarly skeptical of her daughter’s decision. “My mother didn’t love me being fully dependent on my husband,” she admits.  

“I was not at all supported by my family or friends,” laments Radhia, a Lab Technician with a BS in Microbiology with a Chemistry minor.

Other than being doubted and blamed for their choice, there are other challenges that SAHMs face. Accustomed to mental stimulation, exciting challenges, professional accomplishments, and adult interaction, many former career women find staying at home to raise youngsters to be monotonous and lonely. The nannies, assistants, cleaners, and other workers they had envisioned often never materialized, since hiring these helpers was usually too expensive. Husbands who spent the day working as the family’s sole breadwinner, were usually too tired to help with household duties.  A few women admitted that they felt guilty asking for help in the home when their husband was already exhausted from work. To exacerbate the problem, most of the women I interviewed lived far from family, so they could not rely on the help one normally gets from parents and siblings. That means the bulk of the childcare and housework fell onto their laps alone.  

“The main challenges for me,” states Nicole, “were boredom, and finding good friends to spend time with who had similar interests. I was also very stressed because the raising of the children, the housework, the food, and overall upkeep of our lives were my responsibility, and I found that to be a heavy burden.”

“I think the feelings of vulnerability and insecurity about whether I was a good enough mother and housewife was difficult,” shares Melissa. “All my sense of worth was wrapped up in the kids and home, and if something went wrong I felt like a failure.”

“It was not as easy as I thought it would be,” confesses Radhia. “It was overwhelming at times, and I did miss working. Emotionally and physically, it was very draining.”

“Staying home has been harder than I expected,” adds Summer*, a Writer and Literary Critic from Boston. “I didn’t realize how willful children could be. I thought they’d just do what I said. I’m still trying to get used to the individuality! It’s harder than my job was, only because of the emotional load, and the fact that the effort you put in doesn’t guarantee the results you hope for.”


Money Matters

Giving up their salary also put women in a state of financial dependency, which can be a bitter pill to swallow for women who are used to having their own resources.  

“I felt very dependent on my husband, financially,” says Radhia.

“Alhamdulillah, my husband does not refuse if I ask him to buy anything,” explains Layla. “However, I felt like I was losing my power of deciding to buy something for someone else. For example, if I want to buy a gift for my mother or my sister, he never refuses when I ask him, but still I feel internally it is harder for me.”

“Alhamdulillah my husband’s personality is not one that would control my financial decisions/spending,” shares Neveen. “Otherwise I would never have chosen to be a SAHM.”

“Giving up my career limited my power to make financial decisions,” asserts Summer. “I could still spend what I wanted, but I had to ask permission, because my husband knew when ‘we’ were getting paid, and how much. He paid the bills, which I didn’t even look at.”

“Asking permission,” Summer adds, “is very annoying.”

Re-entering the workforce was difficult for some women, while not for others.  The total time spent at home generally affected whether women could easily jump back into their profession, or not.  Some of the moms felt their skills had not gotten rusty at all during their hiatus at home, while others felt it was nearly impossible to make up, professionally, for missed time.  


Words of Wisdom

Although all of the women I interviewed firmly believe that their time at home with their children is well-spent, they do have advice for their sisters who are currently SAHMs, or considering the position.  

“If I could go back and speak to myself as a new mum, I would tell myself to chill the heck out and just enjoy being a new mum,” says Sazida.

Melissa offers, “I wish people understood how talented you have to be to run a home successfully. It’s a ton of work and it requires you to be able to do everything from snuggle and nurture, to manage the money, budget, plan precisely, be a good hostess, handle problems around the home, manage time, and meet goals all while trying to look cute.

“I would always recommend that women have their own bank account and money on the side,” advises Nicole. “You never know when you are going to need it.”

“Once their kids are in school,” adds Radhia, “I would suggest SAHMs start something from home, or take on part time work, or courses, if necessary.”

“For moms choosing to stay at home,” Layla suggests, “I would say try to work part-time if your time permits, and if you have a passion for working. Trust that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will protect you, no matter what. Remember, you are investing in your kids, and that is far more important than thinking ‘I need to keep money in my pocket.’”


Support, don’t judge

As a Muslim ummah, our job is to support one another as brothers and sisters.  It seems people forget this oftentimes, and erroneously believe that we are entitled to gossip, speculate, and sit in judgement of each other, instead.  In our lives we will all undoubtedly encounter women who choose to continue their careers, and those who put them on hold, and those who decide to give them up completely. Before we dare draw conclusions about anyone, we must keep in mind that only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows a person’s entire story, her motivations, and her intentions. Only He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is allowed to judge.  

We must also remember that some women, for a variety of reasons, do not have the luxury of choosing to stay at home. They must work to the pay the bills. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their intentions and will reward their sacrifices as well.


It is my hope that this article will not cause more division amongst us, but rather raise awareness of the beautiful sacrifices that many talented and intelligent women willingly make for the sake of their children, and even more so, for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  They are the unsung heroes of our ummah, performing an undervalued job that is actually of utmost importance to the future of the world.


*Name has been changed



For the past decade, writer Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, and About Islam. Her articles frequently tackle issues like Muslim American identity, women’s rights in Islam, support of converts/reverts, and racism. A graduate of Grinnell College, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and five children. Laura recently started a Facebook page, The Common Sense Convert, to support Muslim women, particularly those who are new to the deen.

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