The recession gripping the nation has taken less of a toll on American Muslims who follow age-old Islamic laws against paying or charging interest.
They've also been shielded by socially responsible retirement plans because Shariah Islamic law forbids investments in banks and mortgages as well as tobacco, alcohol, gambling, pornography or weapons.
"If everybody was Shariah-compliant, there would be no recession," said Farouk Fakira, a Yemeni immigrant who moderated a discussion on Islamic finance at Sacramento's Masjid Annur last week.
Fakira, 57, rents a home like hundreds of other local Muslims because "interest is pretty much forbidden. If you're making money off of money, the only person who benefits is you."
Shariah 1,400 years of Islamic legal knowledge based on the words of the Prophet Muhammad guides Muslims in daily life, said Imam Muhammed Abdul Azeez of Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims, or SALAM.
Shariah prohibits usury, which often took advantage of a desperate person who needed to feed or protect his family, Azeez said. "There's an element of exploitation here."
The bottom line for many Muslims is, "if I don't have the money to buy something, that means I can't afford it," said Deya Dean Elghassein, who's Palestinian American.
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