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Investors' Faith in Mutual Funds Is Rewarded

Amana Mutual Funds Trust is a fund that operates within Islamic beliefs. Administered by Saturna Capital of Bellingham, Wash., its major holdings include such companies as Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Procter & Gamble (PG), Pfizer (PFE), ConocoPhillips (COP), McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), all of which have been deemed, in its eyes, to be clean of any dealings with gambling, alcohol, pork and pornography.

In keeping with Islamic tradition and a belief that debt is a corrupting influence, its managers avoid companies that profit from lending and interest, including banks and insurance companies.

For the past decade, the Amana Trust Growth Fund (AMAGX), with an annualized return of about 12%, has outperformed the S&P 500 by as much as 5 percentage points. Although it fell 17% in 2008, the S&P 500 dropped 26%, dragged down by banks, which needed a governmental intervention to survive.

MMA Stewardship Solutions is a group of affiliated entities that includes Mennonite Insurance Service, the Mennonite Retirement Trust and MMA Praxis Mutual Funds (MMPGX). MMA is an acronym for Mennonite Mutual Aid. The religious underpinning comes from Anabaptism, a Protestant Christian reform movement in Europe during the 16th century that currently includes the Mennonite, Brethren and Amish church groups.

"When we launched the mutual fund, we were really one of the first, on a very short list of people, who were entering the space with a faith-based focus," says David Gautsche, MMA senior vice president of products and services.

Those managing the funds pride themselves with activism and education. For the credit industry, advocating for consumer rights has been a cornerstone of its outreach efforts this year.

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