Financial Literacy for Muslims

Areeb Siddiqui
Founder and CEO of Kestrl

Could you give us a brief introduction of Kestrl and walk us through how you started the company?

I'm a British born Pakistani, after my studies, I quickly moved into financial services in London. As a Muslim, I understood that there was such a thing called Islamic finance, but the majority of us, including myself, didn't really understand much of what that was. The tension between my faith and my finances got larger until I took a career break and did an MBA at Cambridge, where I met my now co-founder. He asked me why I wasn't using an Islamic bank, which led to the beginning of Kestrl. We started in the saving space and are now moving into the halal investing space. Our mission is to transform every Islamic bank in the world, so no Muslim ever feels like they have to choose between their faith and finances again. 

How important is financial literacy in the digital world we live in today?

Financial literacy is important for everyone and particularly for Muslims because the Islamic faith has specific principles and guidelines regarding money and financial transactions.

Muslims are encouraged to seek knowledge and understanding in all aspects of life, including finances. The Quran and Hadith contain guidance on how to manage and use money in a responsible and ethical manner. Islamic finance principles, such as avoiding interest-based transactions (riba), emphasising the importance of charity (zakat), and promoting risk-sharing in business transactions, require a good understanding of financial concepts and practices.

Financial literacy is crucial for Muslims to make informed decisions about their finances, invest in halal (permissible) ventures, and avoid haram (forbidden) financial transactions. It can also help Muslims plan for their financial future, manage debt, and avoid financial scams and frauds.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced and how did you come out more confident?

Impostor syndrome is something a lot of people struggle with - the feeling that we're not good enough to do what we're doing. I definitely experienced that, especially early last year when things were especially tough. I had just gotten married, my wife was pregnant, and I was trying to make our business work. It was a lot of pressure because we had a growing team of 16 people, and the decisions I made directly affected their livelihoods. It was a tough balancing act, but we managed to get through it.