The North American Islamic Trust is a not-for-profit, American religious institution, tax-exempt under IRS section 501(c)(3). It was founded in the 1970s in order to assist the growing nascent Muslim community in the United States. As many immigrants from Asia and the Middle East arrived for higher studies and to settle down with their families, there were very few indigenous masajid or Islamic centers, particularly in the rural and suburban areas of the United States. The students and other immigrants realized that organizing their lives around a masjid would be central to the growth of a spiritual healthy American Muslim community.
Accordingly, the young Muslim Student’s Association of America and Canada helped to launch NAIT in 1973 as a waqf or trust organization. Even though Muslims have been immigrating to the United States since the founding of the nation, many people and communities ultimately lost or abandoned their Islamic heritage due to social, and political reasons. Indeed, many indigenous masajid and centers were lost or forgotten. To prevent this in the future, the organizers believed that creating a waqf or general trust to safeguard the properties of masajid and Islamic centers would be vital for the growth and maintenance of the American Muslim community.
NAIT’s waqf program is a variant of the conventional Trust/Endowment program, because of two important aspects of waqf, i.e. the perpetual status of the waqf properties and the unalterable sanctity of the will of the donor. Even the donor cannot alter his/her intent at a later time. Thus, NAIT is unique among national Muslim non-for-profit organizations. However, NAIT does not manage, organize, or interfere with any masjid or Islamic center. Each masjid or Islamic center is independently organized, managed and controlled. NAIT serves as the record owner of the property in the capacity of a trustee for the local community. While, the decision-making body of a non-profit corporation can dispose of, or encumber communal property, NAIT management cannot do so to waqf properties.
In addition to its waqf role, NAIT develops financial vehicles that are compatible with both the Shari’ah (Islamic law) and the American law, pools the American Muslim community’s assets under its Islamic Centers Cooperative Fund, and publishes credible Islamic literature under its American Trust Publications.
In the United States, corporate culture has permeated all spheres of life, and religious world in to immune to its influence. Under the influence of this prevalent corporate culture, most mosques are governed by a Board of Trustees/Directors. Such a governing board may be tempted to act as if its reach of governance is unfettered to the extent that it can change the use of the property, use it as a collateral for a loan, prohibit some universally accepted mode of worship, permit an un-Islamic activity, etc. None of such actions would be feasible if the property is part of the NAIT Waqf Family of Islamic Centers.
Since 1973, Muslim communities have entrusted as Waqf, titles of properties in 42 States to NAIT. More are added every year. Market value of these is several hundred million dollars. Waqf properties and the value of these properties are Restricted Assets as Waqf on a perpetual basis, to serve the Islamic objectives prescribed at inception. Neither the donor, nor the beneficiary, not even NAIT, can encumber or unilaterally dispose of these Waqf communal properties. Perpetual status of the Waqf properties and the unalterable sanctity of the will of the donor are hallmark of NAIT’s Waqf program. A waqf property can be replaced with another one of the same use and equal benefit to the beneficiary community, to the fullest extent feasible. It is not permissible, for example, to apply sale proceeds of a deserted and unusable masjid to a cemetery, retirement/assisted living, or other facilities even though those are to serve Muslims of the same locality.
Islamic Centers Cooperative Fund (ICCF) has funds from over four hundred Islamic centers. ICCF facilitates establishment of Islamic centers, mosques and schools by extending limited interest free loans to needy communities.
American Trust Publication (ATP) has published over 100 books on a wide variety of topics of interest to Muslims and Non-Muslims since 1976.
ISLAMIC FINANCE: NAIT develops Islamic financial vehicles that address the investment and financial needs of Muslim organizations, individuals and their businesses within the boundaries of Shariah. Over the last three decades, NAIT spearheaded the establishment of the two leading sharia compliant mutual funds in North America: Amana and Iman Fund, that invest in companies that meet the universal ethical principles of Islam. NAIT is now only associated with Iman Fund.
Since 2000, the Iman Fund (IMANX) has been offered by Allied Asset Advisors, a for-profit subsidiary of NAIT. As a “growth fund”, it seeks growth of capital while adhering to Islamic principles. IMANX includes common stocks of domestic and foreign companies that meet Islamic principles, avoiding those that derive interest income as primary source of income or engage in alcohol, pornography, gambling and other harmful businesses. Iman Fund Prospectus is at www.investaaa.com.