Monday, June 12, 2006

Islamic Goods Fair in Malaysia features 'Islamic' toothpastes to 'Islamic' Holidays to...

It pleases to see Muslim entrepreneurship blooming at a global level but something is evidently lacking.

The impetus behind this event is that "Muslims have the responsibility to help improve the world with whatever they can deliver," says the fair's organizing director, Sabariah Abdullah of Malaysia's Saba Islamic Media, a distribution and promotions group. But if all they can deliver is a neatly canvassed 'Islamic' package of virtually any item imaginable under the sun, then one begs to differ as to how exactly that will improve the world.

Although 'Halal' alternatives to food products are mainly on the agenda, what constitues 'Halal' has been subject to vague interpretations. One supplier of Islamic confectionary recently argued to a prospect client, a friend of mine, that what makes his products significantly 'Halaler' than others' is that he uses 'Halal' glue to seal the packaging. Amazing!

It can be imagined that as consumers become more aware of their religion, the demand for religiously certified products will increase. This is increasingly being viewed as a profiteering opportunity by sanctimonious entrepreneurs. Remember the recent 'al-Quds Jeans' issue. Now we can have 'Islamic' vitamin supplements, holiday packages to Turkey, Egypt & Morocco, pop bands etc.

However, genuine Islamic services - effeciently priced, of course - that focus on our real needs as Muslims need praise and our total support. On the other hand, we should be trying to organise a conference of Muslim entrepreneurs who have provided for the genuine necessities of wider society instead of exploiting the faith of their co-religionists. That will be more helpful in improving the world.

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