Morningstar Magazine - June/July 2017 - 102

Investors

Making Their Voices Heard
Planner Fatima Iqbal says
Muslim investors are energized
to act with their money.

USER PROFILE

Ilana Polyak

For clients of Azzad Asset Management in Falls
Church, Va., the past few months have been
trying, to say the least. The Trump administration's
two executive orders banning travelers from
several Muslim-majority countries, not to mention
the president's long history of anti-Muslim

102

rhetoric, have rattled nerves among the firm's
primarily Muslim clientele. The silver lining,
says senior investment advisor Fatima Iqbal, is that
investors are energized, and they want to speak
with their actions and their money.

Working with a board of Islamic scholars, Azzad
developed screens to filter out investments
that go against Islamic law, or Shariah. The firm
also takes public stands on environmental and
social issues through shareholder resolutions.
It urges the companies it invests in to treat
its workers well, be good environmental stewards,
and hold governments accountable wherever
they do business. For example, when U.S. Attorney
General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era
order reducing the use of private prisons,
Iqbal was quick to inform the firm's clients that
Azzad would not be buying the stocks of
two publicly traded private prison companies,
even though their fortunes suddenly looked
brighter. "Private prisons are wrong at any price,"
she wrote.
Giving Muslims More Options

"People are searching for ways where they can
make their voices heard," says Iqbal, who
is based in Chicago. "Now, they realize they have
voices sitting in their financial portfolios."

At 3.3 million, Muslims make up only 1% of the U.S.
population, but this number is expected to
double by 2050. The community's income is in line
with the general population's and growing.



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