The housing market in Iran

This is a guest blog post covering some topics on Iranian housing, it was contributed by MNA.

House Prices: The norm in Iran for valuing any real estate is by location and meterage of that location so for any individual trying to see what the market is for buying or renting, all you need is to look at any particular area and there are plenty of ways of cross checking and seeing if the price is right.

Looking at pricing via advertisements helps, as does speaking with the local estate agents who will tell you  the going rate before you start your search so that you would have a good idea of what you can afford and where you can live.

The Local currency is very volatile and everyone is worried of that, but in reality all the trading is conducted with USD or Euro so no matter what happens, when you are trying to price an item it is always reflected on the FX rate, as all expensive ticket items would have an important role in the economy. …

Read More

The moral financial lesson from Islamic Finance.

In the field of Islamic Finance there are two unlawful or ‘haram’ activities, both are in the area of ‘Riba‘ – which is often translated as ‘interest’ but is better thought of as ‘excess’.

These two are Riba al fadl, and Riba al naseeyah.

Riba al fadl is the easy one to remember, it is the charging of interest, in Christendom we call it ‘usury’, something that was once forbidden under Christian doctrine (hence the pushing of Jews into becoming the earliest bankers – they could engage in this forbidden activity for Christians who wanted to borrow – borrowing was OK, but lending was not).

Riba al naseeyah is the second tenet, and perhaps the most important, because it is an early adaptation of understanding that economic rent is a problem. This isn’t an argument for socialism or anything else, but it is an acknowledgement that Riba al naseeyah [which means ‘excess compensation] can be both a financial, societal and economic problem.

Price gouging is one aspect of riba al naseeyah, another would be deriving income …

Read More

‘Riba’ or Interest

Often we hear that under Islamic finance ‘interest’ is illegal (it is technically ‘Haram’ or unlawful), the term in Arabic is ‘Riba’ and it doesn’t just cover interest. The basis of the anti-interest ruling is from the Surat Al Baqara Verse 275 ‘God has permitted trade & prohibited riba’ and it restricts wealth building by making money from money, rather it can only be done via investment and commerce.

However, riba is not confined to interest on loans (although that is the primary type), the full name of interest riba is ‘riba al naseeya’ (also known as riba al-Quran or riba al-jahiliyyah). There is a secondary type called riba al-fadl and this is best described as ‘excess compensation’, this can occur where one party makes too much from an exchange. A foundation in Sharia’a compliant finance is that transactions should be fixed in nature (to avoid ‘Gharar’ or uncertainty) and associated with a specific risk, so any compensation beyond what is considered the fair value is also a brand of riba. For instance, if two people exchanged 1kg of metal …

Read More

Mudaraba Deposits – Sharia’a compliant finance

The Mudaraba contract is essentially a contract partnership in Islamic Finance, the Prophet (PBUH) forbid riba or interest, and for that reason the provision of capital for borrowers is generally not performed as a function of debt, but rather as a function of an equity investment.

In this way a Mudaraba relationship can exist with a depositor, but instead of getting interest the Islamic finance institution will invest it on their behalf. However, unlike western banking accounts, a Mudaraba account does not have capital protection as it would be in breach of the profit and loss sharing rule of sharia’a compliant finance. That is a big downside when you compare it to conventional banking.

This brand of deposit account is interesting because it has no guarantee, and yet people willingly sign up to it because it is handled in a responsible manner, shareholder funds are combined with depositor funds to make investments, and these are not securitized or sold on which encourage the probity and diligent underwriting of the investment. Conventional banking could learn a great deal from this.

Read More