LONDON: A children’s book using Qur’anic teachings to educate children on financial literacy could help to address systemic inequalities afflicting Muslims in Britain’s financial system, its creator has said.
Despite the UK having one of the highest financial literacy rates in the world, there are stark differences between Britons in their understanding of how best to manage their finances.
A poll conducted by Ipsos Mori in September found that Britain’s most economically deprived areas also have the lowest rates of financial literacy, meaning people are less aware of the most efficient ways to manage their finances in general, and of the risks and possibilities surrounding personal finance.
For Britain’s millions of Muslims — 46 percent of whom live in the top 10 percent of the country’s most deprived areas — this presents yet another barrier to social mobility.
That is why Wahed, an Islamic finance investment and advisory company, partnered with Learning Roots to create the children’s book “The Prophet Yusuf’s Amazing Investment” — a free online book that calls itself “a child’s first guide to halal investing.”
Drawing on the Qur’anic story of the Prophet Yusuf — who encouraged his community to save through years of prosperity to prepare for years of hardship — the book teaches children the concepts of planning for the future, delayed gratification, and how to grow wealth, all while “keeping it halal.”
Readers are told: “Most investments need time to mature. So the earlier you start, the more your investments will make over a long period of time.”
The book does not teach children which financial products or stocks best suit them, but rather the foundational concepts that underpin healthy finances in the future — in a fun and accessible way, Wahed’s UK head Umer Suleman told Arab News.
“We’re teaching them patience, understanding what they have now, and what they may or may not have tomorrow,” Suleman said.
“If you look at communities that are low on the socioeconomic ladder or are in poverty, you’ll find a direct correlation between their socioeconomic level and levels of financial literacy — even basic things like knowing how to save, taxation and planning ahead.”
He said the book is aimed at “uplifting” those communities while ensuring that people in more economically stable positions “understand how to interact with finance,” which “starts when you’re young and continues into adulthood.”
The book, Suleman added, teaches from a specifically Islamic perspective, so young Muslims are taught how they will interact and flourish in a wider financial system that was not built to accommodate their religious beliefs.
“Muslims need to feel empowered with the money they have, to be able to invest it in a way that reflects what they believe, so they can feel comfortable that it can be used for good,” he said, adding that the benefits of healthy finances expand beyond the bank account.
“There’s direct a link between mental wellbeing and financial wellbeing — if people aren’t able to manage their finances or get out of debt, it can push them into a dark space. We’ve especially seen that during COVID-19.”