For some Muslims, it can be hard to buy a house, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray thinks that just isn’t fair.

On Monday, the Mayor’s housing committee released its recommendations for ways the city can increase housing in the city.  Touted on the Mayor’s website as the “ (HALA) ACTION PLAN – Housing Seattle: A Roadmap to an Affordable and Livable City

Most of the ideas were exactly what you would  expect… increasing the city’s housing levy,  implementing new rules and regulations to foster development of market-rate, more low-income housing, et cetera.

One suggestion, however, would help followers of Sharia law buy houses. It is  difficult now for them because Sharia law kinda prohibits payment of interest on loans. The 28-member committee recommended the city convene lenders and community leaders to explore options for increasing access to Sharia-compliant loan products.

Support the Community in Finding Housing Tools for Sharia-Compliant Lending: For our low – and moderate – income Muslim neighbors who follow Sharia law – which prohibits the payment of interest or fees for loans of money – there are limited options for financing a home. Some Muslims are unable to use conventional mortgage products due to religious convictions. The City will convene lenders, housing nonprofits and community leaders to explore the best options for increasing access to Sharia-compliant loan products to help these residents become homeowners in Seattle.

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Based on what has been referred to as “rough anecdotal evidence”, by the Executive Director of the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Arsalan Bukhari ,  of the estimated 30,000 Muslims in Seattle only a couple hundred people aren’t borrowing money for houses due to their religion.

Sharia prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money (known as riba , or usury), whether the payment is fixed or floating.

BUT Sharia is kind of fuzzy on the topic mainly because there are different interpretations on when it is okay to pay interest.

And it gets even fuzzier when you realize that some major players in the Muslim world who say they follow Sharia Law 100% invest their money in the stock market. You see, The Qur’an prohibits gambling (games of chance involving money). The hadith, in addition to prohibiting gambling (games of chance), also prohibits bayu al-gharar (trading in risk, where the Arabic word gharar is taken to mean “risk” or excessive uncertainty).

People like Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal , for instance, who is not only a self proclaimed devout follower of Sharia Law… but also the 2nd largest Share Holder of FOX news’ parent company, NEWS CORP, and also has major holdings in Apple, Twitter, Citigroup, Canary Wharf, Time Warner and Paris’s George V and London’s Savoy hotels.

Not to mention the fact that the prince has said in the past the he received loans!

The prince says he is a self-made billionaire, claiming that his father only gave him a $30,000 endowment and a $300,000 loan and a house.

THE GUARDIAN

So if the Prince of a county ruled under Sharia law, who has proclaimed that he is a devout follower of Sharia law, can ignore certain parts of Sharia law, specifically the part about getting a loan… is it really a law? or is it a suggestion?

AND HERE IS A BIG QUESTION:

IF FOLLOWERS OF SHARIA LAW ARE NOT GOING TO BE MADE TO PAY INTEREST.. WHO WILL PICK UP THE SLACK?

ALSO, Since it is illegal to discriminate based on anything that has to do with housing and lending, will there be an attempt to limit these interest free loan programs only to members of a specific religious faith?  And wouldn’t that be illegal?

Seattle’s mayor has said that he will be  sending legislation based on the committee’s recommendations to the City Council for consideration.

“We will work to develop new tools for Muslims who are prevented from using conventional mortgage products due to their religious beliefs,” Murray said.

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