Muslim Home-buyers Find Options to Interest

November 3, 2000

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

On November 3, 2000, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that "Islamic teachings prohibit the paying or receiving of interest -- which touches upon almost every financial transaction in American society, from paying for gas on a credit card to buying a car. For Muslims, this ancient law conflicts with an increasingly complex U.S. society that thrives on debt. The stakes are high. For strict followers in Southern California's growing Muslim population, the price of piety can be owning a home. So Muslims nationwide have created unique loan contracts that allow them to use credit without paying interest. A group of local Muslims has started one of the country's few Islamically permissible housing co-ops, where creative financing allows members to pool money and buy each other homes. With 160 members, the Palo Alto-based co-op has bought nine homes in its four years of existence...'We wanted to have an alternative to the present interest-based economic system,' said Manzoor Ghori, who co-founded the Ameen Housing Co-op. But 'it's a meager effort because the whole world economy is going one way, and you're trying to do something different.' The ban on interest comes from an interpretation of the Koran followed by the most devout -- roughly 10 percent of the estimated 6 million to 8 million Muslims in the United States. About 250,000 live in the Bay Area."