Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Halal Investment Options for Muslims in Canada

I've always been a huge advocate of avoiding Riba(Interest), either earning or paying. There are definite financial, social and religious reasons for this and we, as Muslims, are aware of them.

There has always been a concern among the Muslim community in Canada of where they should put their extra money in terms of Savings or Investments, earn money from that or atleast hedge against the Inflation and other factors. Based on my knowledge and experience (Allah knows best), I was able to dart down the following investment opportunities available in the Canadian market.

But before I can list down all the available options, I want you all to have a basic understanding of Savings and Investments. (<<< Please click the link).

Investing in Commodities e.g. Gold and Silver

Gold and Silver have historically been the best source of securing your wealth over a long period of time. From my research of historical Gold prices, they have tripled in last 20 years. Silver is not far behind. Rather, silver has outperformed gold if we take different time ranges. So let's say you are not someone who has huge sums of money and can make big investments, investing in gold or silver is definitely an option for you. This is purely a halal investment and if you are looking to invest for a longer period of time, let's say saving money for your child's education, investing a couple of hundred dollars a month should not be difficult. This way you are preserving your wealth and, in the meantime, saving money for your child's education. You can buy gold from banks or can even purchase from an accredited gold dealer in Canada.

There are other commodities you can invest in but for a domestic investor it would be hard to store those commodities over a long period of time.

Investing in company Stocks i.e. shares

Basic reasoning as to why stocks are halal investments is as investors you will be rewarded with profits of the company and will also to have bear losses, if any. There are different types of stocks you can invest in based on your investment horizon i.e. time period you want to invest for and the amount of risk you can handle. Moreover, it also matters what kind of income stream you have in mind i.e. do you want regular dividend payments or you are more interested in Capital Gains (IPO's i.e. companies that are recently launching their stocks into the stock market, are best for Capital Gains).

Examples of stocks you can invest in as Muslims are:
  1. Retail companies
  2. Oil and Gas companies
  3. Trading companies etc.
There is a list of type of companies we, as Muslims, should not invest in i.e. these won't be considered as Halal investments. Companies that primarily deal in:
  1. Financial institutions i.e. banks, loaning companies
  2. Alcohol
  3. Pork and pork related products
  4. Tobaco
  5. Weapons and ammunitions
  6. Entertainment
The list provided above is just an example and is not extensive.

As a normal person who does not have much knowledge about how to invest in stocks in Canadian Stock markets, best thing is to reach out to someone who knows. They may be your relationship managers at the bank, a Muslim scholar who has finance knowledge as well and knows financial markets or contact brokerage companies. You will need to make sure you have explained to them in detail the criteria for your investments i.e. type of companies you are looking into.

Some banks such as RBC Royal Bank give you an online account that you can use trade stocks online. For this you need to have reasonable knowledge of how stocks work and how to analyse an investment opportunity.

Land and property

If you have enough spare cash that you have saved over a period of time and looking to invest in halal options, property and land present another option for you. People do engage into buying houses through mortgage and increase their asset base, but that is definitely not a halal option. So, if you are someone who likes to avoid interest, you should not go into buying houses through mortgage.

Now there are 2 scenarios:
  1. You have enough money to buy a house. In this case you should be on the look for best investment opportunities in terms of property and land. I've seen people usualy invest more into buying houses than buying land in Canada. This is not a bad option and is more secure. But investing in Land around the areas that have potential in terms of future growth and have developmental projects in the pipeline is something that can generate higher returns for you.
  2. You don't have enough money to buy a house in Canada. In this scenario, since almost all of us are immigrants here, there is always an opportunity available in your country of origin. You can invest in smaller properties there and once you have collected enough money, you can bring it back here (if your goals is to own property in Canada).
Investing in new companies

A large number of Muslim business men/women want to start their new projects, they have good ideas but do not have the money to invest. You can find these people in your community or social networks and discuss about their ideas. If you have the financial knowledge, try and analyse their ideas, both in terms of practicality and future revenues. If you don't have the knowledge, have them create a business plan and then present that business plan to an investment advisor.

You can also create a pool of money with your friends, acquaintances and start a business that you normally can't afford. Investing in new projects i.e. businesses, is riskier than investing into an already running business but if weighed and measured properly and work hard on, can generate much better returns.

In the end, my knowledge is limited and above mentioned options are just suggestions, but I am hopeful they can give you an idea about investing halal and saving yourself from the curse of Riba(Interest). I'd be more than pleased to help with any of the above.


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