I figured you'd be the best person to ask about this. I'm a young Muslim adult who's been wondering how to navigate through a usury based society. Unless you end up earning ample amounts of money, it feels like getting mortgages and credit cards are pre-requisites to living a comfortable (or decently comfortable) life here. What can I do to avoid partaking in the usury system while allowing me to live a decent life quality? Any advice or readings on this would be a great help.
We should try to avoid interest (and for-profit insurance) as much as we are able. This is a challenge that each person has to face for themselves; one should do as much as they can, but I wouldn’t say that one should absolutely avoid it all, since that can be too difficult for some people’s faith.
Speaking for myself, for mortgages, I would use an Islamic provider like Guidance Residential if it all possible. For insurance, I would only get insurance that I am legally required to get (such as car insurance). I would avoid using credit cards unless absolutely necessary (for example if I can’t pay rent and can’t get help in other ways).
In my new book A Skeptic’s Quick Guide to Modern Economics I explain how today’s usurious system works. You can also check out Usury in Christendom: The Mortal Sin that Was and Now is Not.
And if you ever have money to invest, you should avoid bonds, including “Islamic” ones that give a fixed rate. One should also ideally avoid all companies that borrow money on interest, which basically means all US public corporations. What remains is to invest in private businesses that do not deal in usury and that give their employees living wages. As far as I know there is no easy way to do this other than finding a business and reaching a private deal with them (giving them $10,000, for example, for a certain share of their profits). There are “Islamic” mutual funds like Azzad and AMANA, but both of these either invest in usurious corporations or in fixed-rate “Islamic” bonds that are not so Islamic after all. What is needed is a mutual fund that invests solely in non-usurious businesses or truly Islamic bonds (backed by real assets and with fluctuating returns). Perhaps as the number of Muslims in the US and Europe increases, such funds will be created. At the moment, if I were wealthy, I would have nothing to do with the utterly corrupt and usurious corporate culture of the West and would do everything possible to create new companies that act more ethically.