NY: Mortgages Test Muslim Faith


Most New Yorkers leave their finances in the hands of brokers, bankers and planners, but Muslims often turn to their religious leaders.

Soulemaine Konate knows: As imam of the 1,500-member Masji Aqsa Mosque in Harlem, he said he gets money questions daily.

For strict Muslims, financial decisions must adhere to Sharia, or Islamic law, as written in the Koran. Interest is forbidden, making Muslims' path to home ownership difficult.

But some Islamic leaders, including Konate, tell their congregations it is okay to get a mortgage.

"If you buy a house with interest, hey, it's for your family," said Konate, who emigrated from the Ivory Coast. "You're not going to let them live on the street."

But some disagree.

"Only in a case of absolute necessity may you pay interest or receive interest," said Imam Omar Abu-Namous of New York's Islamic Cultural Center.

But Abu-Namous said that doesn't mean Muslims can't buy homes.

There are lenders that work to comply with Islamic law, though they have achieved varying degrees of success in the U.S.

 


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