One thing that initially shocked me about the business world is how cut-throat it is despite being big enough for everyone to prosper in it. Everyone wants to be on top, to make the most money, and do whatever possible to get the upper hand. What’s comforting to me is that Muslim-owned businesses don’t seem to be like that.
We were not motivated by making the most money; we were motivated by dealing fairly, giving the best price, and selling high-quality products, simply because we were following the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who emulated the best business practices. What continues to surprise me, however, is as much as our communities love to build institutions, we are neglecting the one thing that can most easily finance those institutions: Muslim-owned businesses. We seem to have a hard time buying from our own.
We will purchase clothes from Forever 21, but not from the sister with the clothing stall at the masjid. We will buy scarves from Ross, but not from the Muslim business selling them for the same price in a different part of town. We’ll go and eat gourmet burgers at a fancy restaurant and drive past the halal burger place on our way there.
There are so many reasons to support Muslim-owned businesses, as members of a Muslim community, so here are a few.
- You generate community wealth by buying from each other and supporting members of your community who want to be successful entrepreneurs.
- Most Muslims make products especially geared towards other Muslims so we can purchase items that were created with us in mind (i.e. halal butchers, modest clothing, calligraphy art).
- Instead of buying from companies where you don’t know where your money is going, you can support small Muslim businesses where you are certain your purchase will help a family put food on the table.
- By purchasing products from small businesses, which sell in a halal, ethical way, we can change the way business is conducted, and promote healthy, ethical, moneymaking practices.
- When we show that we support our own, we encourage rise of the next wave of young Muslim entrepreneurs who can change the landscape of business.
- When you buy from businesses that were the original inventors of things like the sports hijab you are showing them that their ideas matter, and they will be motivated to come up with brilliant ways to fulfill new needs.
- Want for your brother/sister what you want for yourself. If you yourself are a Muslim small business owner, then you know the struggle. Share your knowledge, your wealth (investment), or your time to lift other businesses up with you. You don’t lose anything by supporting other Muslim businesses.
- Trade and commerce is a historic aspect of the Muslim community. At the moment, we as a community don’t have half this kind of influence as we did historically, but we also have never been more connected to other Muslims through technology. We should continue that legacy of trade both within and out of our communities by supporting our local Muslim-owned businesses.
- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a businessman, as was his wife Khadijah (RA). Both of them practiced honorable business behavior, and any Muslim business owner following the sunnah will be just as honorable. You know you won’t get cheated out of a product from a Muslim.
- Everyone in the community benefits by supporting a Muslim-owned business. The customer is happy to receive a product that is well-made, ethically sourced, properly priced, and honorably sold. The business owner is able to feed his or her family and put money back into building institutions in the community like the masjids, Islamic schools, or even investing in another Muslim business. Because of this the community is able to thrive, grow, and expand.