Islam and money

Indonesian mosque officials count donations for the upkeep of the Jami Roudhotul Falah mosque following Friday prayers in central Jakarta. Apart from the voluntary donations, Muslims practice "zakat,: where a percentage of their annual savings are set aside for alms or charity for poor people during the period of Islam's holy month of Ramadan.

Religion has plenty of guidance for all aspects of modern life. That most certainly includes how we manage our money. Paying interest, tithing, charity, even how we should view the concept of money itself. Over the next few weeks we'll look at the role that the church, the mosque or the temple plays in our financial decisions.

This week, to mark the month of Ramadan, we'll start with Islam. Islamic finance is fundamentally shaped by its view of interest, or riba in Arabic. Dr. Yahia Abdul-Rahman is the author of "The Art of Islamic Banking and Finance." He also runs a mortgage firm in Pasadena, Calif. called American Finance House, LARIBA, which means riba-free.

He said that Muslims, like other faiths, consider money as a tool, not a measure of a person's character.

"Money is a measuring device and it measures the success or failure of an investment," Abdul-Rahman told Money host Tess Vigeland. "So money has to be invested back into the community to generate economic prosperity, job opportunity with prudence."

Islamic law is very clear about matters of money. There are defined rules about how much to tithe, or to give in "zakat," specifying different levels of giving based on how you earn your income. Learn more about Islamic philosophy regarding money and personal finance by listening to the audio above.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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I'm glad that you gave an opportunity to the speaker to explain the view he holds from his religion. Your questions allowed him to explain rather than attacked his ideas making him defend. I hope you do the same for Christians (We get to hear from them next I see) and Jewish. I hope you all include some of the other major religions (Hindi, Tao, etc). This is an education section not a prove you're right section.

It seems that because Mohammed did not understand capitalism or democracy, Islam looks unfavorably on both. No wonder Islam is considered unrealistic, even backward.

Tess, I assume that you didn't have time or inclination to ask challenging questions regarding Islamic finance. What troubles me about Islamic finance is that the banks have to function as venture capitalists who have to comprehend the business plan and agree to it.

Which implies that good credit isn't valued, but tried-and-true ways of business will win out over innovation and risk-taking.

Sorry, I am NOT interested in that model.

I am interested in the tenor of the mail you will get on this segment.

Tess, I love ya and I love to listen to the show on my way home from work in Portland, Oregon on Friday nights (I'll miss that when the show moves to Sundays). But I gotta set the record straight on one thing you said. It is, I think, a rather important distinction. The Bible does not say, "Money is the root of all evil."

The apostle Paul writes to Timothy in the first letter (1 Timothy 6:10) that "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil." This I think makes much more sense to people because it correctly points out how the human failing of greediness causes so many problems. It's not the inanimate thing of money itself.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

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