Archive for category Following the sunnah

How did I pay off $30,000 in university loans without paying 1 cent of interest


There is a lengthy series on personal financing (financing your education in a halal fashion) on Muslim Matters. It’s quite interesting to read.

There is a bit of a discussion first of all about whether it’s really even necessary to go to college or university. Well, I won’t debate that, but let me at least give you the real cost of education. In economics they call this “opportunity cost”. When you go to university for 3 or 4 years, that means you are losing that income. Say an entry level job with absolutely no post-highschool diploma education you can make $30,000 to $40,000. For the sake of argument, lets say you are more competent and you can get a decent job at $40,000 (say telemarketing, sales, construction, or whatever). You have to factor this into the cost of your education.

So really your education comes at a cost of 4 years of lost income or $160,000. Now, from a strictly financial perspective, you have to ask yourself, am I going to make up that $160,000 over my lifetime because I have a degree? That is a long discussion and I won’t get into it. But to summarize, it depends and that’s what you need to think about.

Lets say you have now decided you want to go to university. Great. But how to finance it.. ?? ??

  1. First of all you have to realize the seriousness of riba. Interest (paying it or receiving it) is one form of riba. So thats the first step.
  2. Second of all, you have to make sincere intention to avoid it at any costs and try your utmost to do this.
  3. This might require a lot of personal sacrifice. This starts with living frugally (i.e. living simple. No expensive cell phones, avoid eating out, try to get stuff used instead of brand new, and so on)
  4. Enrol in a CO-OP program (such as University of Waterloo Computer Science), and be practical about which programs lead to $$$. This might sound harsh but it’s good advice from a good brother and friend of mine. Alternatively you work part-time in the evenings or on weekends.
  5. Lastly, place your trust in Allah. After you did all that, you place your trust in Allah and leave it to him 🙂

Now lets say you did all of the above (or maybe its too late and you are about to graduate) and you need to pay off your loan without paying interest? Well if you have either personal loans from family members or friends and they are not interest bearing, great, this doesn’t apply to you. Otherwise, here is what you can do.

As a background note, before I explain, I live in Canada and received OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program which is basically an interest-free loan for the duration of your studies) but as soon as you graduate interest starts accumulating immediately. Update: Someone emailed me to ask if this is halal. I don’t think its halal to sign such a contract, please read the muslimmatters blog for a similar explanation about credit cards and why it’s best to avoid them.

How I personally avoided interest on my entire loan.

  1. Gather a list of all your friends and family members who might be able to help you with your loan. Be creative, your list should include the imam of the masjid you attend, the sheikh teaching the last seminar you attended, and so on.
  2. Contact them and ask them for assistance. Mention to them that you are in a difficult situation, maybe they were also in a similar situation and needed help. One brother who gave me some money as a loan mentioned that he was also in a similar situation and someone helped him, so he told himself that if ever someone asks him for help with student loans he will give him the money for that. The easiest way is to email them and ask them. I would recommend a personal email. Here is a draft:

    Dear So and So
    Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah
    I am in the final year of my university program at UofXYZ.
    I am about to graduate and land my first job inshaAllah. The program I have studied in has given me an excellent background in this field and I feel confident about landing my first job shortly. I hope you can assist me so that I can avoid paying interest on my loans. I am looking for a 2-4 year loan that will be paid back entirely at the end of the term or sooner if required. JazakAllahu Khaira.
    Your name

    As an exercise, you can look up a few hadith and ayah on the reward of lending loans and the seriousness of riba.

By the way, It helps if you already have a job offer. It also helps if you are well known in the community (i.e. go to the masjid regularly, and so on).

Here is how it worked out for me.

  • An older brother (doctor) lent me $1000
  • A university friend (graduated before me) $500
  • My paternal uncle $1500
  • A close friend who was graduated and working $500
  • Another friend who lived with me at one time and graduated before me $2500
  • My brother undisclosed amount 😉
  • A brother who I only knew online but emailed him for help (lived in USA) $1000
  • Another brother whom I only met once before in the masjid – approximately $29000

Now you might be wondering why someone I met only once would lend me so much money? The simple reason is for the sake of Allah. He obviously did some reference checks on me from friends and others. The funny thing is I just asked him for $1000 but due to some circumstance I mentioned that I actually needed more and then he offered to lend me whatever was remaining (asked me to pay him back within 2 years if possible).

The surprising thing is that people I thought who had money didn’t, and where I least expected it, thats where it came from.

As a last note, if you are trying your best but not succeeding, keep in mind, its the effort that counts, not the result. Effort from you, results from Allah. Now sleep soundly knowing that you did whatever you could to please Allah.

11:56 (listen)

Go ahead, accept that gift


Narrated ‘Aisha, our Mother, and the Wife of the Beloved of Allah:

Allah’s Apostles used to accept gifts and used to give something in return. (Sahih Bukhari)

The messenger of Allah, Sallahu alaiyhi wa salam, always used to accept gifts. And he used to return kindness with kindness. He did not think it was below him to accept a gift, no matter how little it was. And he also used to smile and accept it generously.

Whenever a piece of meat was offered to him, for example, he would ask, is this charity (sadaqa), or is this a gift?

If it was a gift, he would thank the person, and invite others to share in the blessing and eat with him, whereas if it was a charity, he would invite others to eat from it, but would not take any for himself.

Whenever a meal was brought to Allah’s Apostle, he would ask whether it was a gift or Sadaqa (something given in charity). If he was told that it was Sadaqa, he would tell his companions to eat it, but if it was a gift, he would hurry to share it with them. (Sahih Muslim)

It is from his mercy that he always accepted gifts. It feels good that when you give someone a gift, that they accept it from their heart. Sometimes in our cultures we grow up thinking its righteous to reject a gift. In fact this is not true, and it hurts the giver when you do not accept.

When someone gives you a gift, what should you do?
You should try to give them a gift back, and if you cannot, then you should pray for them and ask for Allah to give them goodness.

Supporting Hadith

  • Prophet accepted a gift of drink and shared it (Sahih Muslim)
  • Prophet accepted a gift of some gold rings and gave it to his grand daughter (Sunan of Abu Dawud)
  • The muhajireen (ones who migrated to Makkah and were mostly poor) returned the gift that the ansar (the local people of Medina) when they were wealthy and could afford it (Sahih Muslim)
  • The ruler of Aila gave a gift of a white Mule to the Prophet, and he in return gave a gift of a cloak (Sahih Muslim)
  • The Prophet would not reject the gift of Perfume (Bukhari)
  • Prophet accepted the gift of some food but did not eat the parts that he did not like (Bukhari)

Let us add some joy to this world, and start accepting gifts and giving gifts in return.

Eid Mubarak

Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

The following is my email I sent about 1 week after Eid 2007. As such its a bit rough and it was sent without much editing but here it is.

Eid Mubarak to each and every one of you.
I apologize for the lateness of this email, but alhamdullilah your email box won’t be full of these emails right now since I’m probably the only one sending it so late.

I wanted to send an individual email to each and every one of you, but lifestyle unfortunately does not permit me to do such a thing, which is sad indeed.

We have only 2 celebrations a year, we have our own identity and we stay away from all these batil celebrations – Halloween, Christmas, etc..
we know that a lot of them have their roots in pagan and evil celebrations but the rulers in fact took these polytheistic rituals and made them part of their deen..

We reject all such celebrations.

Even there are some Christians who refuse to celebrate birthdays, and refuse to celebrate Halloween, and even some who wont celebrate what is now known as “Christmas” because of the roots of how it started..

do some research and learn the truth. Isa alaihis salam was not born on December 25th.
see item 5 on Was Jesus really born on December 25th?

but we have to stand strong and realize that Islam is the deen of truth. And we have our own celebrations, our own EID.

Thus, it is very important, especially for those of us living here in the non Muslim countries, to make a big deal of Eid. We have to celebrate, have parties for our kids, buy something nice for our families, and make it super special and remembered.. if we don’t. we will be assimilated…..

may Allah accept all our good deeds and fasting this month, ameen

Back from the house of Allah

I just came back from 5 days of Itikaf (voluntary retreat for the purpose of worship)

The masjid that I was at, Masjid Al-Farooq was just recently opened (it used to be like a small house, now its a two million dollar facility (partially finished) just in time for Ramadan. The old masjid is 18 years old so far.

It was a beautiful experience. I urge all of you who have the opportunity to go, to go!
First of all, you will meet wonderful people, insha’Allah, who are more practising than yourself. You will have the opportunity to sit with them and to see them waking up for prayers and constantly reading Quran and making personal sacrifice for the sake of Allah.

You will also meet those who are not so fortunate that they can take time off for itikaf, yet they still are willing to sacrifice their sleep and come to pray at night. It is amazing and heart warming to see those who come and stay for the entire taraweeh prayer, leaving around 11pm, and then returning the next day between 3 to 5am to worship Allah, AND THEN to go to work between 8 to 10am.

Now, I was also amazed at the sheer number of people that come for Qiyam and Suhoor and Fajr during this week. It was outstanding. There was literally at least 60-100 people every night. It makes you realize that if you don’t wake up to pray, then tons of others are going to do it and replace you. There were also kind souls who brought us Somali tea everyday at taraweeh and qiyam 🙂

I also learned something I didn’t know about being in the masjid – namely one that worldly talk is not allowed.

I was also sad about a few things…

I also felt that itikaf is not really the time to be listening to the Quran, say, on your MP3 player, or iPod, but rather, it’s the time to be in active worship of Allah.

That also, Allahu Alem, it is better for you to stand up and pray at night rather than sitting at the back and reading Quran along with the imam.

Even reading the Quran in prayer is not recommended, and Ibn Uthaymeen even said it is contrary to the sunnah to hold the mushaf during prayer because it means you are fiddling and making more movements, and also because you will not be concentrating on the place of sujood (prostration).

Vacation for the sake of Allah

I am taking a vacation for the sake of Allah. I took 1 week off work, and for the next days I will be performing itikaf at the masjid. This means I will be sleeping there and eating there, and inshaAllah waking up to pray qiyam ul-layl.

The feelings that go through my mind as I prepare for this. Shaytan attacks those that want to do good deeds. You start to get doubts, to wonder, why am I doing this? Can’t I do something better with my 1 week vacation, such as go for a trip with my wife, or stay home and look for a new job, or improve my technical skills, etc, etc..

Also I have concerns, will my wife be okay with the kids, doing the shopping, take care of the house, and so on… ?

Infact, the feelings that go through my heart is that this is a small glimpse of what the companions felt when they had to go for jihad. And it was even more scary, because they didn’t know what food they would eat, they didn’t even know if they would come home, or when.

And it was fardh for them to go out. The deen‘s very survival necessitated such a struggle.

Quran 9:38

O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter. (Interpretation by Muhsin Khan)

(Quran 9:38)

A mighty test indeed. May Allah make us of those who remember the struggle of the companions and the Prophet, their sacrifice, and help us to return to the sunnah (way of the Prophet, SAllahu alaiyhi wa salam which was prescribed by Allah) and the correct understanding of the deen, ameen. May Allah make us of those who willingly give our lives and our properties in return for jannah, ameen.

Never Ask Anyone


This article is about depending 100% only on Allah. That is the highest form of tawheed.

That is from the highest part of eman and tawheed, to not depend on anyone other than Allah. That means never asking except from Allah, even if it very difficult to do so.

Note, it is not haram to ask help from others, unless it is accompanied by incorrect belief–it is not the doctor that cures us, he is only acting by the permission of Allah.

Let us all strive towards this highest form of eman, that is, complete dependence only on Allah, Subhanahu wa ta’ala. It might take years in order to implement this, because of our years of dependence on asking our family members or friends – our wife, or our mom, or our brother to pick this up for us, to get that for us, to hold the door for us, etc.. But let us at the least strive towards this goal.

Thawban pledges not to ask anyone for anything

Al-Tabarani relates on the authority of Abu Umamah:

“The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked us who was willing to give him a pledge. Thawban, the Prophet’s servant, requested the Prophet, peace be upon him, to accept his pledge.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said to him: ‘You pledge not to ask anyone anything.’

Thawban asked him what reward would a person get for honoring such a pledge, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, answered: ‘Paradise.

I saw Thawban in Makkah when it was overcrowded with people. He was on his mount when it happened that his whip fell from his hand over someone’s shoulder. The man handed him the whip back, but he would not take it from him until he dismounted to pick it up himself.” (Also related in a shorter version by Ahmad and Al-Nassai)

Umar gives an oath never to ask anything from anyone

Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from ‘Ata’ ibn Yasar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sent a gift to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab and ‘Umar returned it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked, “Why did you return it?” He replied, “Messenger of Allah, didn’t you tell us that it is better for us not to take anything from anyone?” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “That is by asking. Provision which Allah gives you is not the same as asking.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “By the One in whose hand my self is, I will not ask anything from anyone, and anything that comes to me without my asking for it, I will accept.”

[Bukhari and Muslim]