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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Happened To That Wall?

Minnesota State Agency Offers Islamic Mortgages
For many Minnesota Muslims, it's been virtually impossible to buy a home, because Islamic law forbids the paying or charging of interest. To help close the home ownership gap among Muslim immigrants, the state's housing agency has launched a new program offering Islamic mortgages.

Islamic law does make exceptions to the ban on interest, if one's family is at stake. But the exceptions are open to interpretation and for many observant Muslims, conventional mortgages are strictly taboo.

Nawawi Sheikh is one of them. The Somali-American said he and his wife just couldn't go against their beliefs, even if it meant giving up their dream of owning a home. Still, he grew tired of moving from one rented apartment to another.
Well boo hoo, Nawai. What happened to making choices?
Here's how the mortgage, known as Murabaha financing or "cost plus sale," works:

The state buys a home and resells it to the buyer at a higher price. The down payment and monthly installments are agreed to up front at current mortgage rates.

The deal is identical to a thirty-year fixed-rate loan, except there's no additional interest, because the higher up-front price factors in payments that would have been made over the life of a traditional mortgage.

A handful of private banks and lending institutions offer Islamic mortgages in the U.S., but Minnesota Housing is the first state agency to offer such a product. The program is the brainchild of Hussein Samatar, director of the African Development Center in Minneapolis.

"The process is different, but the outcome will look the same," Samatar said. "We wanted to be as conventional as possible, while respecting the tenets of Islam."
Hey Mr. Samatar, it's not the state's business to find ways to accommodate Islam or any other religion. What happened to that "wall of separation" we hear about from the ACLU all the time? They must think it's only meant to separate Jewish or Christian religion and state. I really wouldn't have a problem with this Murabaha business if it was a private group or agency offering these "loans", but to have the State of Minnesota running this program is hypocritical at best. This program better be available to anyone in Minnesota regardless of religion.

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