The Muslim Women's Guide to Investing

How often do you hear about women investing in the stock market? If you’re like most people, probably not very frequently. That’s because investing is typically seen as the domain of men, and even the words used to describe the process of investing tend to be very masculine. Words used to describe financial transactions, such as “beating the market,” “leveling the playing field,” or “building” a portfolio, are reminiscent of worlds that women did not historically have access to, such as war, and construction, or intense physical activity.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.zoya.finance/muslim-womens-guide-to-investing/
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I couldn’t agree more with this article, thank you for this pertinent post about highlighting the lived reality of so many working, and non-working Muslim women.

To add to the conversation, I came across a fact in a finance magazine that fathers tend to teach finance and investing more so to their sons, rather than daughters. And that daughters learn more saving habits from their mothers. I do believe there are cultural layers of misogyny to this.

Last year, I tried to take on the goal of becoming more financially informed. I signed up for Ellevest, the first app of its kind geared towards financial investing for women. I was pleased at its wide service offerings and started to invest a modest, reoccurring amount. Until my brothers told me their EFT options are not halal. As they do not breakdown the industries in their EFT portfolios.

I was crushed. I wrote to the company, asking them to consider the needs of Muslim women investors, but never heard back. This set back my confidence significantly, and I haven’t made moves forward since. There seems to be so much burden in being “halal” that it fills all my investing aspirations with doubt.

On an another note, as a South Asian Muslim woman, I have been gifted a significant amount of gold during my marriage. From in laws, and my own parents. This asset is a large portion of our total wealth. There is this untold expectation that I am to retain all this commodity, wear it for weddings and special occasions, and keep amassing gold, and pass it down to my children as generational wealth. However, I have very different ideas. I dream to liquidate a portion and invest judiciously, offering my children a different financial security than this wearable commodity.

However, gold is so sentimental - I hardly hear anyone talking, or even thinking about this common sense financial decision. I am keen on how Zoya would comment on this phenomenon.

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A lot of us here are living in the west, US/Canada/UK.

Women have pretty much free access to investing, if they want to invest they need to step up…there is literally nothing stopping them. No glass ceilings, the stock market isn’t biased, the bookshops are not biased, the podcasts are not biased. Just go for it.

Personally I encourage both my son and daughter to invest…I actually encourage my daughter more as I know when it comes to jobs, that society is biased against Muslim women. But investing…it’s a level playing field!

Thank you so much for the feedback Abiha! I’m so glad this article resonated with you and I’m not surprised to hear that fathers teach their sons about investing and not their daughters.

Yes, gold is only a great investment as a hedge against inflation, but won’t actually grow your wealth! Wahed Invest is a great place to start investing in a halal way, and Zoya will be coming out with their own investing platform soon inshallah!

Assalamu alykum Brother Umar,

Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to hear you’re teaching your daughter how to invest - that’s an amazing start.

However, with regards to women “stepping it up”, there’s several very legitimate reasons women aren’t currently investing ,which are detailed in the article. One of those reasons being The Wage Gap - as in, women have less to invest to begin with (especially women of color) because they get paid less on average than men even for the same jobs, so it’s “not a level playing field” for everyone. I’d encourage you to read the article to gain more clarification on the topic.

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Salam, that is true that women on average having less income results in having a more difficult time investing (since less money to invest usually means greater aversion to riding out downturns). It is important for women to see other women are comfortable with and doing well managing money just to dispel the idea that it’s a men’s thing. Umar’s point is valid that there aren’t external barriers to women over men with a given same amount of money, in terms of access to investments (aside from VC or direct business dealings that could be subject to bias).

I agree that trying to beat the market, win the game, etc. that men typically do more aggressively is not something generally positive as most people have a hard time seeing their limitations and oftentimes fall the way of a gambling addict or somewhere in between. There is no reason not to simply invest passively in some halal index tracking mutual funds or ETFs. It’s a matter of getting oneself comfortable with seeing and accepting paper losses when they come, holding on to avoid turning short term paper losses into real losses, and knowing that any other active approach has a higher risk of losing out over the long term.

Assalaamu Alykum All,

We hosted Malak for a Twitter Space last week, and I am excited to say that we have recordings, and I can share them. Going forward, Zoya community events will have their own discussions, but for this one, I wanted to just simplify things, so let’s keep it here.

I hope someone finds it beneficial.

Fortunately, I have had a very different upbringing when it comes to money, finance and investing. My father taught me about saving and investing at a very young age. I grew up listening about stock markets.
On the other hand, I am completely aware of the other reality. When I would talk about investments, stock market, oil prices, interest rates movements among my friends - I would hear back only silence. Professional and educated women - even finance professionals - had nothing to do with investments in practicality. When I would try joining discussions with my father and his friends, I was looked upon as a child and irrelevant in those groups.
But we are in 2020s and most of us are in Western countries (I grew up in Saudi Arabia, btw), nothing stops us from taking this leap. Even if we want to take halal-only approach (and we should!), nothing stops us. Stock market is our go-to place for wealth growth as we can’t have interest-based investments (fixed income, real estate). Wahed Invest is certainly a good starting point for ETFs.

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