From Canada’s first mosque (Al-Rashid) opening its doors in 1938 to the present day, each year more and more Muslims call Canada home. The pioneers of our communities set us up with places to pray, Halal restaurants and shops to get Halal meat. In recent years, Muslim Canadians have gone from a community trying to meet its basic needs to a community of financial prosperity. More and more, our community is made up of entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals looking to grow their wealth, invest their money and leave a legacy on the Muslim Canadian community. In 2021, this shift in community mentality was reflected in the creation and growth of organizations committed to helping Muslims prosper in a Halal way.
Review of 2021
The first notable thing to happen in Canada is when Canadian Islamic Wealth opened its doors to provide Muslims in Canada investment advice, insurance options, financial planning solutions and much more. It currently helps over 175 Muslim families all across Canada and manage over US$10 million in Halal assets only.
A market that Muslims are more and more curious about is the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The challenge for many is finding out whether these alternative investments are in fact Shariah compliant. According to many scholars they can be, but each crypto must be researched and investigated on its own. This is why Marhaba Defi was born as a platform for Muslims to get into the crypto world without having to navigate what is Halal and Haram. This platform is designed by Muslims for Muslims. Although it is an international project with team members from around the globe, Ahmed of Think Halal and Grow Rich is a Muslim Canadian from Toronto heavily involved with the marketing of this project.
Another big development was the launch of the first-ever Canadian-focused Halal exchange-traded fund (ETF) by a fintech company called Wealthsimple. Although its goal is to cater to everyday Canadians, it has been offering some form of Halal investing for the last two years. This year, it launched the Halal ETF as an option for Muslim Canadians.
Manzil created Canada’s first-ever Halal mortgage fund to offer Halal mortgages to its customers. It has had a strong rollout and high demand for its products. Manzil is highly focused on making sure Muslims get the best deal possible when choosing to use its products. Nader Tohomy of Halal Stock Talk, who is also a realtor in the Greater Toronto Area, is spearheading this division of Manzil to help prospective homeowners get the best deal at the best price.
Preview of 2022
In 2022, the goal of all Islamic finance projects across Canada needs to be adoption from the broader Muslim community. There are between one million and two million Muslims living in Canada (by conservative estimates). If all these folks invested their money in the Manzil Halal Mortgage Fund, Canadian Islamic Wealth or adopted some of the Marhaba Defi project, it would create flexibility and velocity within the Islamic finance space to allow for more projects and greater success.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. All these Islamic finance companies need to take steps to acquire community trust and build engagement. This will take time due to many companies coming in and not being genuine in their approach to help the community.
I do not know what is in store for the other organizations mentioned previously. However, Canadian Islamic Wealth plans to employ three to four new associates this year and create satellite offices in four major cities in Canada (Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Mississauga). This is part of our plan to build trust and community in 2022.
In 2021, we saw the Muslim population of Canada reach the highest it has ever been. With more and more Muslim Canadians demanding Halal ways to achieve their goals, the creation and development of companies like Manzil, Marhaba Defi and Canadian Islamic Wealth were almost inevitable.
The fact that all these start-ups managed to make it through the worst of a global pandemic shows the power of Islamic finance. Frankly, many non-Muslim Canadians are getting just as fed up with conventional finance.
More and more people are turning to ethical alternatives like Islamic finance, environmental, social and governance and even seeing crypto as an alternative to big banks that are ready to run over people to make a buck. Only Allah knows what 2022 has in store, but it is clear the financial world is evolving and Islamic finance will be a key component of this evolution.