For-profit

Azzad Asset Management

Location:

Arlington, VA

Type:

Investment Advisory Firm

Azzad Asset Management is an investment advisory firm based in Arlington, Virginia that invests and operates in accordance with Islamic custom. Azzad is an activist investing firm, regularly filing shareholder proposals that pressure corporations to support left-of-center causes[1] or take action on global events of interest to Islamic communities, such as the Rohingya refugee crisis in Burma. [2]

Azzad Asset Management advises a group of funds that it terms “halal mutual funds” for their adherence to investing criteria outlined by the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. [3] These criteria include standards that prohibit investing in companies that operate contrary to Islamic beliefs or customs. [4]

Azzad practices shareholder advocacy and proxy voting as “an expression of Islamic investing.” [5] Many of the shareholder resolutions it files focus on left-leaning environmentalism and social policy.

Founding and History

Azzad Asset Management was founded in the Washington, D.C. suburbs in 1997 by Bashar Qasem, a 23-year-old Jordanian immigrant. Qasem started the company after identifying a lack of Islamic-law compliant investing options in the United States. To inform Azzad’s portfolio, Qasem created a computer program to filter out “Islamically unethical” investments. [6]

Over time, Azzad also began to offer a full Islamic financial planning advisory services to clients, including “purification calculations” to make sure that all earnings were spent and allocated according to Islamic belief. [7]

In 2010, Azzad launched the Azzad Wise Capital Fund, which it calls the first Sharia-compliant fixed-income mutual fund in the United States. [8]

Shareholder Activism

The first mention of shareholder advocacy on Azzad’s website appeared in June of 2017. Azzad’s activism includes proxy voting, filing shareholder resolutions, and sending investor letters. [9]

In both 2018 and 2019, Azzad filed resolutions pressuring Honeywell to disclose membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that endorses legislation. [10] According to Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research, this is part of Azzad’s regular practice of working to defund right-leaning free market organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) under the pretext of promoting “transparency and accountability.” [11]

Azzad is also a member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a liberal environmental group that pressures corporations into supporting left-leaning policies. In a press release, Azzad said it joined “to bring a fresh, Islamically inspired perspective to the many corporate and social issues confronted by ICCR.” [12]

In February 2017, Azzad signed a letter calling on the 19 CEOs who were members of President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum to speak out against Trump administration policies. [13]

In 2018, Azzad co-filed resolutions with both Amazon and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, demanding greater diversity among senior executives. It proposed incorporating “sustainability metrics” and executive diversity into CEO compensation incentive plans. [14][15]

Azzad has also regularly called on companies to take action in favor of the Rohingya, a Muslim group persecuted by the government of Myanmar (Burma). For example, it has written letters and proposed resolutions urging jewelry retailers to boycott Burmese gems and demanded Chevron and other oil companies wield their influence to pressure the Burmese government to protect the Rohingya. [16]

References

  1. Danhof, Justin. “Honeywell Shareholder Meeting.” Letter to Shareholders. April 23, 2018. https://nationalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Honeywell-2018-Azzad-Opposition-Stmt.pdf ^
  2. “Investor Letters.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20181026203013/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  3. “Biography of Joshua Brockwell.” The Fairfax Institute. Accessed November 9, 2019. http://www.thefairfaxinstitute.org/mr-joshua-brockwell.html ^
  4. “What We Do.” AAOIFI. Accessed November 10, 2019. http://aaoifi.com/?lang=en ^
  5. “Azzad Asset Management Becomes 1st Islamic Financial Firm to Join Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.” PR Newswire. Apr 09, 2015. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/azzad-asset-management-becomes-1st-islamic-financial-firm-to-join-interfaith-center-on-corporate-responsibility-300063605.html ^
  6. “Story of Azzad.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed November 10, 2019. https://www.azzadfunds.com/about-us/#1471274789878-82f0490d-81aa ^
  7. “Story of Azzad.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed November 10, 2019. https://www.azzadfunds.com/about-us/#1471274789878-82f0490d-81aa ^
  8. “Biography of Joshua Brockwell.” The Fairfax Institute. Accessed November 9, 2019. http://www.thefairfaxinstitute.org/mr-joshua-brockwell.html ^
  9. “Shareholder Advocacy.” AzzadFunds.com. Archived from June 17, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20170617233616/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  10. “Honeywell: Issue: Lobbying disclosure.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20181026203013/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  11. Danhof, Justin. “Honeywell Shareholder Meeting.” Letter to Shareholders. April 23, 2018. https://nationalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Honeywell-2018-Azzad-Opposition-Stmt.pdf ^
  12. “Azzad Asset Management Becomes 1st Islamic Financial Firm to Join Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.” PR Newswire. Apr 09, 2015. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/azzad-asset-management-becomes-1st-islamic-financial-firm-to-join-interfaith-center-on-corporate-responsibility-300063605.html ^
  13. “Policy Advocacy: Strategic and Policy Forum.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20171219011054/https://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  14. “Amazon: Issue: Diversity among senior executives.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20181026203013/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  15. “Alphabet: Issue: Diversity among senior executives.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20181026203013/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
  16. “Investor Letters.” AzzadFunds.com. Accessed via Web Archive November 9, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20181026203013/http://www.azzadfunds.com/shareholder-advocacy/ ^
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Azzad Asset Management


Arlington, VA