Religion and Parents VS Finance

Background:

At a target school in my second year in the UK, think Oxbridge/LSE/ICL etc. First generation immigrant (Came to the UK at like 4 years old) from a very working class household. Had a pretty troubling childhood.

Once I left my first school at 15 and joined one further away from my house, things started to improve very quickly. This was the first time in my life where I could actually use my brain and actually pay attention to classes and stuff. Managed to start a buisness while at secondary school selling tech and got into the local grammar school after. Was one of the only people from 6th form to get into a where I am today which I am very grateful for. 

University:

Now I am at uni and everyone is talking about spring weeks and internships on the first day. I applied to a couple not even knowing what finance was. Got rejected due to submitting a 2 page CV lol. 

Everyone around me has 5-6 spring week offers from Big4 to BBs and everything in between and has a vague idea of what intrests them. Just to see what these guys were talking about I started to research what these firms do and I discovered the WSO forum. Afterwhich I have had a solid idea about different divisions etc. Thought working in L/S equities sounds intresting and was something I wanted to try. So I applied from March without any stats or python knowledge. 

Managed to get an internship in LO AM through cold calling.

Issues

My parents have said to me if I go into finance due to religous reasons they will potenially cut me off.

I have been applying speculatively for summers with not alot of luck since coming back to Uni. I am lacking direction and lack a general vision for what I want to do with my life in the coming 2-3 years and its causing  me alot of anxiety. 

The issue is I cannot seem to balance out my religion and career right now and go back and fourth between recuiting for IB or AM and not applying and cancelling my applications up, it's like I am in a perpetual state of confusion and stress.

Either I focus on career and do my best with religion and having my family be pissed off with me and not speak to me or I do something else outside of finance. My family do mean alot to me it is just that I am unsure if they will actually seriously cut me off or it being more temporary. My dad has a brother that works Banking and they do not speak at all so it might happen to me aswel.

For me it seems like a waste of an opportunity coming to a top school and dealing w the shit I have and working so hard to become an accountant or something similar (no offense to anyone I am not trying to come off as snobby but if I wanted to be an accountant or something along them lines I would not have gone to uni and incurred the debt and done a apprenticeship.)

I would appreciate anyone's insight, advice, or a Muslim in finance's perspective. Sorry for the rant; I just wanted to get this off my chest.

 

You got the potential to pursue in career in finance and be more successful than anyone in your family, don't let retarded external factors like what your parents might think hinder you. By the way, advising on M&A and IPOs is not usury.

 

I'm not a Muslim in finance but your parents have made it very clear that they will cut you off if you pursue the career you want. So if you want to do high finance, they are saying they don't want to be your parents. That's a tough pill to swallow, and it isn't your fault, but it seems like they have a history of pushing aside your wishes, or not taking you seriously.
If you are religious, you may or may not believe high finance is usury - ultimately that's a decision you will have to make, but assuming you don't believe that, you aren't betraying your religion by going into finance. Plenty of Muslims go into finance.
It's a pretty simple question. Are you going to let your parents dictate your life decisions as an adult, and hold over your entire life and career with financial/social pressure? You might end up resenting them if you do. 
Me, personally, if I was determined to succeed (and also have independence from my parents, which is a part of growing up) I might continue the lie for as long as it goes, but brace yourself for the inevitable shitshow that will happen. Hopefully, you can stall until you have an offer, get the job, and start a new life. Maybe they'll come around, or maybe they never will. Only you know. But I don't think that relationship is worth you basically surrendering your entire life to them. Especially because they're making that choice, not you.

 

Appreciate it man, based on what people have said so far in the forum working for a pure advisory firm is allowed so I'm going to focus on that completely from now. I'll try to find a scholar later down the road who can explain it to my parents that what I'm doing is halal.

 

I'm also a Muslim and I've worked for six years in L/S Equity and now transitioning into Banking. I come from a similarly middle class background as you and as luck would have it, I was also very much into PC hardware and made a living out of that for a while during my A levels. Imagine the similarities lol! 

I'm gonna address this from two points of view, firstly the Islamic: 

My parents were never such hardliners as yours but I did face the ocassional criticism for working in Finance and how usury is unlawful according to our religion. So I looked it up and did alot of research on this. 

Firstly you need to understand that the tradition in Arabia at the time of Muhammad was such that let's say I lend you a 1000 pounds for one year. If you're unable to repay the loan at the end of the year, the loan term would be extended by a year and the principal would double. This would quite common back then and everyone with common sense can understand how that is exploitative and unfair. It was not uncommon for people to lose all of their posessions through this re-doubling of loans. From my perspective, when the Quran prohibits usury, its in this respect because the substance of the transaction was exploitative and hence unlawful. 

This is no way similar to how the system of interest operates today. The problem with the traditional interpretation of this issue (and many other issues for us Muslims), is that, in my opinion, we've subordinated reason and logic to the understanding and interpretation of religious figures and authorities (many of which have no understanding of finance). I shake my head when people tell me fixed income is unlawful because it involves no risk (how stupid do you have to be to believe that?). 
 

Most of the traditional arguments for why interest is haraam do a terrible job because their proponents don't understand finance. Somehow over the centuries we've divolved all religious debate to the prohibitions on drinking, pork, homosexuality  and interest and we've lost sight of what really matters. We're very big on projecting our beliefs on the rest of the world yet we do little in the Muslim world to focus on Islamic teachings on honesty, cleanliness, be mindful of others etc. It is a very hypocritical state of affairs if you ask me. 

We do a collective disservice to our religion by shirking from the clear, simple (and difficult to follow) tenets and instead focus on the divisive less understood issues that everyone has an opinion about yet no one reads about. We do not have a tradition, as in Christianity of Popes and Priests being the intermediateries between mortal men and God yet somehow we've come to accept religious authorities over using our own reason and stifled intellectual debate. That's where we've gone wrong and why, I think, since the Protestant Reformation, Europe has (rightly) risen to power. 

In short, come to your own conclusions about religion as an adult and I do not see the need to be guilty about working in finance.

From a secular perspective, you owe it to yourself to follow your passions and interests and you do not exist to follow the whims of your parents. It is not inconsistent to love and respect your parents and at the same time draw some boundaries and make your own decisions. If you chose to not follow your passion today, you will be bitter. Trust me when I tell you, a bad job seaps into the rest of your life and you think seriously about the long term repurcussions of following your parent's directives (as much as you do of the opposite scenario). Frankly, I do not get immigrants that move to these new countries, vehemently hold onto their antiquated belief systems and refuse to develop further as a person. 

I'm going to make one final point. If interest is indeed unlawful in all its forms, then you are in a real pickle. If you have a current account with a bank, your bank makes a higher net interest margin than if you had a savings account = you are promoting banks. If you have a mortgage or a pension or a credit card = promoting the system of interest again. You could take it to its logical extreme and say that if Bailey cuts rates in 2024 and you get a job in IB and/or your house goes up in value (without you having done anything or borne any risk) = interest. So it's back to the caves I'm afraid. 

 

Thanks man for your comment. Didn't realize our backgrounds were similar damn.

I agree with you and hold similar views myself regarding interest and I think modern scholars as a whole do a terrible job explaining this to the masses.

Somewhere down the road I plan to go and study the religion a little better at an institution like Madinah uni to see if I can actually disprove the interest narrative in our community or maybe find out I'm wrong lol.

I get my parents concern, that to the best of their knowledge my potential income would be deemed as "haram" and they ultimately want me to have a halal income and be a good Muslim which I also want but I think IB/Advisory roles is fine. So I'll probably do the same gig as everyone else. Go in for 2 years and then exit and try to figure out what I'll do after. I'll be aiming for a job at a pure advisory firm just to be safe until I've done more research based on what the forum has said so far.

Tbh I'm not sure if a corporate job is for me at the end of the day. I'm definitely going to try the entrepreneurial route this year to see if something takes off and maybe take a year out of uni to focus on it before recruiting for advisory roles.

 

Best of luck man. I'm not sure how useful Madina would be, probably go to Oxford and do philosophy and religion and learn from a secular view point. We need a fresh pair of eyes not the regurgitation of the same world view by yet another "scholar". You can also pick up books on Al-Ghazali, Averroes (Ibn Rush) and Avicenna (Ibn Sina) etc. There was a lively intellectual debate in 12th century Baghdad and these guys often wrote books contradicting each other (which is considering heresy today unfortunately), so it would be an interesting intellectual journey. Doubt IB will give you the time for that lol! 

 

From what I've checked, working at a BB would be problematic as they also have all have a commercial/corporate bank that directly deals with usary and lends. So even if I was in an advisory role it wouldn't be allowed. Working at a purely advisory firm is allowed from what I've researched now.

 

Come from a similar background and university education

At some point you will have to live your own life and it’s better if you can start sooner rather than later, particularly if your parents are holding you back

 

I come from an Islamic background too, provided my family isn’t as strict as yours. But I think in this era we live in a society where usury can’t be avoided. It’s one thing that you aren’t even directly dealing with usury when you’re in IB but the weird part is that they were okay with you taking out student loans (which in theory would literally make you deal with usury directly) but working in IB is where the line is crossed?

Pretty sure if that’s the case then like a good 90% of corporate jobs would be deemed haram since every company is somehow dealing with interest. I mean, you could literally ask an Imam (who knows what financial advisory is) to literally tell them it isn’t haram. Some imams like to make fatwas without knowing the underlying issue they make it on.

Hope it all goes well!

 

Thanks man, I think for the student loan some scholars said it's deemed as an investment.

Some scholars say it's allowed technically like here:
https://www.qardus.com/news/are-student-loans-haram

For the maintenance I plan to pay it off as early as possible like within the first year of graduation if I get into IB.

The thing is I've spoken to 3-4 reputable scholars and they all tell me to avoid working on finance in general and they just quote the same reasoning, "interest is waging war on God etc".

When I say stuff like, well in narrations the term used is "usary" - which means to be exploitative and lend at high rates and in the past decade interest rates have been lower than 1% - how on earth is this exploitative? Then I end up getting the same argument "interest is interest at 0.000025% to 25% - all haram". I'm going to find some other scholars to speak to to try and get a definitive answer.

Aside from that based on what people have said so far, I'm going to focus on getting into a FT role in shops like PWP that do purely advisory now.

 
Most Helpful

Regarding that link, the meaning changes entirely on whether you denote riba as increase or excess. The former is general interest, the latter relates to the money lending tradition in Arabia I spoke of earlier. Then it goes on to say "according to Sharia laws" (which is to say the theologians interpretation NOT the word of God per se). "Riba is generally deemed to increase the gap between the poor and the rich in society" really? In a hypothetical debt free world, how will poor countries ever converge with the rich ones? Then the article goes on to argue how its not unlawful because "the student never receives the loan" and it "goes to the university directly" (on behalf of the student). You can see the mental gymnastics you have to go through to declare all interest are unlawful and then go about declaring rulings for special cases. Steer clear and base your career decisions on whatever is best for you professionally/financially. If you have a guilty conscience, donate to people in need. 

 

I took up islamic finance in university and had many discussions with my professor and his conclusion was its all bullshit lol! This guy was the ultimate realist, he only did a PhD in Islamic Finance because it was an extremely lucrative field to be in. Found out that to be even more true when I started covering FIG in Pakistan. Meezan Bank (our largest bank now) has the ultimate business model. They pray on the faith of ordinary people to encourage them to open current accounts (which they do ofcourse) and as a result they have ridiculous NIMs and 30% annual deposit growth. So yeah pretty great business model. It is also well known that they pay "the scholars" to get fatwas and that they even invest excessive liquidity (through some very elaborate mechanims) with conventional banks! 

 

When I first saw this I didn’t know how to respond but I’m also in a similar situation and know exactly what you mean man. Right now I want to make sure my career path is halal and I didn’t want to give any bad advice. From what I know I will be similarly looking into strictly advisory firms because I’ve found it to work under our rulings. It’s good to see other people care so much about how their religion intersects with their religion. I wish you all the best brother.

 

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