7 Tips for Muslim BusinessesHow to Increase Profits and Help The Muslim Economy Grow“I live in a suburban where there are 3 "Halal" meat stores within a 5 mile area, and another which isabout 30 minutes away. I am an "American" Muslimah. In the three stores owned by Pakistani/Indianbusinessmen, the treatment I receive is terrible. In addition, the stores are filthy and no health code isfollowed. Blood from the meat is spread from meat counter to checkout counter, hands to money andpens, etc. In the store that is further away, the owner has argued and almost had fist fights withcustomers, and will not disclose his meat source. I have gone to great lengths to continue to buy Halalmeat, but I feel that doing business with these people is not something I can continue to do." (Commentin the Halal and Healthy forum of the Sound Vision website, July 22, 1999)Muslim consumers are often criticized for not doing enough to support Muslim businesses, whether itspaying the extra dollar (or two or three or four) to buy products, or to drive the extra mile (or two orthree or four) to get to the store.But what is rarely discussed in the North American context is what obligation Muslim businesses,especially Halal grocery stores, have to the Muslim community.The above-mentioned complaint is not a reflection of all Halal grocery stores. However, the problemsoutlined in it cannot be ignored.If Muslim businesses want the support of Muslim consumers, they will have to do more toaccommodate them, provide better service and prices.New York-based Muslim social scientist Ilyas Bayunus conducted a study in which he found that Chicagohas a Muslim population of about 300,000. The state of Illinois has a population of 400,000.This indicates the tremendous buying power of Muslims in this city and this state.In Chicago alone, there are a minimum of 60 retail Halal meat shops that are owned and operated byMuslims.Currently, the Halal meat business makes close to $5 million a year. But the potential profit could be ashigh as $60 to $80 million. The market hasnt developed for a number of reasons, some of them can beattributed to Muslim consumers, others to Muslim businesses.Below are some tips on how you can improve service and profits of your Halal business. This can beapplied to all business, not just the meat business:1. MAKE PROFIT THE SECONDARY AIM
The first goal of a Muslim business should not be cashing in on a Muslim market. It should be pleasingAllah and establishing Halal as a way of life.Seeking profit is not a bad aim, but it should be secondary.By making Allah the goal, and implementing Islamic rules of honesty, truthfulness, and good behaviorwith customers, Insha Allah, any Muslim business is bound to boom.2. BE TRUTHFUL AND HONESTThe Prophet has said the the honest and truthful businessman will be in Jannah amongst the Prophetsthe Truthful and the martyrs. Honesty and truthfulness are essential in this business. And when it comesto Muslim businesses, it means building a relationship of trust with customers, which cannot be donewith lies and deceit.3. BE OPEN TO SCRUTINY AND CRITICISMWhile this may be a bitter pill to swallow, being ready to have your product or business scrutinized forcleanliness or the “Halalness” of products indicates a willingness to work with the consumer. This servesto build trust.For those business people who may feel hesitant or downright angry with a Muslim consumer for evenasking about the acceptability of a given product in their store, remember that this is the right of theconsumer.Remember, ultimately, we are all responsible to Allah. If a business is cheating Muslims, Allah willeventually expose those involved.As well, a Halal business is not just one persons profit-making machine. It is also an institution of theMuslim community. Therefore, it must be ensured that it meets not just state and federal standards, butmost importantly, the Quran and Sunnahs standards.4.BE CLEAN!This is especially important for Halal grocery stores where the presence of animal blood is expected. Notbeing careful of this means not only lost customers, but also possible sicknesses from the germs in theblood.The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Cleanliness invites towards faith (Iman) and faithleads its possessor to paradise." (Tabarani)
This cleanliness, by the way, does not just apply to those areas of a store a customer will see. It includesequipment and storage areas as well.5. AIM FOR A HIGHER GOALDont just aim for one successful Halal grocery shop in your chosen neighborhood. Think big. Improvethe inventory of your store, the types of items in it, and strive to find ways to improve service and profitmargins.As well, look into the possibility of pooling resources within the Muslim community or with othershareholders to expand the business. Doing this will also reduce overhead costs and in the long run, theprice of products for your consumers.6. WORK WITH OTHERS IN YOUR MARKETYes. This can be very difficult. Finger pointing, accusations and nasty rivalry often characterize Muslimbusinesses aiming to market the same products. But this is not the way a Muslim economy should work.Brotherhood in the Ummah cannot be forgotten. Consider forming an association of Muslim meatretailers or distributors that can sit down together share experience, and learn to cooperate. Thiscooperation could, in the long run, benefit the Muslim consumer, and in turn the Muslim businessesthemselves.One example of where cooperation can take place in the Halal meat industry is by having all grocers orbutchers slaughtering the animals in one place, Instead of doing it the way its been done since thebeginning: every individual or couple of retailers slaughtering their own animals.By slaughtering in one place, costs are reduced, and in turn, the Muslim consumer pays less for the sameproduct.7. DO NOT SELL THE HARAMWhile there are more “Muslim” businesses sprouting up, not everything they sell is Islamic.It is not difficult to find Muslim owned businesses selling pork, alcohol, pornographic magazines, andrenting these kinds of movies on the one hand, while selling Halal meat on the other.Of a less offensive nature, perhaps, are those businesses which sell Halal products but rent or sellcultural (especially Indo-Pakistani) movies. While these movies may seem harmless in comparison tothose of the pornographic variety, what must be remembered is that when Muslim parents and eldersindulge in watching such cultural films, their children can very easily find an excuse to watch their own
“cultural” films (i.e. American-Hollywood).This requires efforts on the part of Muslim business owners to wipe out the Haram and ensure the Halalin their businesses.A telling anecdote about Haram business practices was provided by Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, NewYork during a Khutbah.He recounted the case of a Muslim who owned a shop that sold newspapers and magazines-includingpornographic magazines. The Imam tried to convince the Muslim brother to stop selling thesepublications. At one point he agreed, and removed them from his shelves.But after a while, Imam Wahhaj noticed they were back on the shelves. When he asked the brotherabout their reappearance, he said he was losing money.Shortly after that, the entire store was destroyed in a fire.