Unlike a conventional mortgage where the purchaser borrows money from a lender which is then repaid with interest, EQRAZ’s halal home financing is based on the Islamic finance principles of Murabaha.
In September 2017, with my three children growing up, my wife and I decided to move back to Canada from Qatar, where we had resided since 2007. Based on my past business and academic experience, I had planned to start a management consulting business. However, as I began to develop my network in Canada, I came across the idea of halal mortgages, and the dearth of them across the country. Being Muslim, and having lived over a decade in the Middle East, where Islamic finance is growing at an unprecedented rate, this piqued my interest, and I decided to start looking into providing Shariah-compliant mortgages to Canadian real estate buyers.
Following six months of extensive research and dozens of meetings with Canadian real-estate, mortgage, banking and financial services professionals, I realized that the Canadian financial and regulatory environment is ripe with challenges against Islamic finance ventures. As a Muslim, an entrepreneur, but most importantly a family person looking for a new home in Canada, I decided to take on the challenge of making halal mortgages available at scale for my fellow Canadian Muslims. Canada’s 1.6 million Muslims represent 400,000 households who, to date, lack access to institutional-grade Shariah-compliant financing. Moreover, my research has confirmed that many of these Muslims have been victims of malpractice and perhaps even fraud at the hands of opportunists seeking to make profits in this industry.
With God’s grace, although it took three long years, I sincerely believe that we have found the solution to Canada’s Islamic home-financing challenges, and I pray that EQRAZ’s offering meets with the satisfaction of my fellow Canadian Muslims.
Having spent the past 15 years in construction and oil & gas services in Qatar, the challenge of Islamic finance in a Western banking model reminds me of a cofferdam – an enclosure built within a body of water to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out. This pumping creates a dry working environment so that the work can be carried out safely. Cofferdams are commonly used for construction or repair of permanent dams and, to me, the analogy seems appropriate.
The sea represents the world of interest-based finance that we live in, the cofferdam represents the relatively tiny yet growing Islamic finance industry, and the action of pumping water out of the cofferdam represents the efforts of well-wishing Islamic financial professionals to purify and grow Islamic finance by progressively removing the remaining conventional finance elements from within the Islamic finance industry.
Just like a cofferdam, creating a space for Islamic finance to grow requires the ability to simultaneously keep principles of Shariah-compliance while working within Canadian regulations and following the “laws of the land” as far as possible without breaking Islamic principles. It’s not the end state but a step on a journey towards a world without riba.
As an engineer, an actuary, and a practicing Muslim, I intend to submit myself to the highest possible standards of professional conduct, transparency and God-fearing sincerity through this journey, and I look forward to my fellow Canadian Muslims joining me on this journey.
The EQRAZ logo is designed as an eight-sided Rub-el-Hizb, also knows as the Islamic Star, which is a very important Islamic symbol that was used to aid in the recitation of the Qur’an and, as such, recognized as an essential part of a Muslim’s day-to-day life. It is reported that “أخضر “, the Arabic word for “green”, is used in its various forms eight times in the Holy Quran to represent the eight gates to Jannah (heaven), which are similarly represented by the eight sides of the Rub-el-Hizb.
Within the shape, EQRAZ is written in ancient Kufic script commonly used in Islamic works, with letters made out of straight lines and right angles. Geometric and square Kufic shapes were commonly used in Islamic architecture. Using this Kufic style in EQRAZ’s logo associates the EQRAZ brand with Islamic architecture or, said another way, Islamic “housing” – EQRAZ’s prime business.
The logo also signifies EQRAZ’s intention to adhere both to Shariah and Canadian rules and ethics without any twists, turns or compromises. Said another way, EQRAZ will be “straight-forward” and transparent with its clients, get compliance with Shariah requirements “right”, and appeal to our customers’ faith and sensitivities.
Finally, the navy-blue color of the logo signifies depth, expertise and stability. This characterizes the quality of the people and infrastructure EQRAZ has assembled to provide its clients with its halal financing products.
EQRAZ has over three years, developed partnerships with Canada’s best-in-class third party mortgage companies, including origination and mortgage closing, reporting and compliance, servicing, and client management. All third-party agreements have been thoroughly vetted and approved to be Shariah and AAOIFI compliant. (AAOIFI is the leading global authority on Shariah compliant financing.)
This ensures that our clients not only receive the best industry-standard services with EQRAZ, but their mortgages are ALWAYS SAFE and independent of EQRAZ’s status as a corporation.
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