2020 is coming to an end. No one had predicted it to be a year of surprise, sadness, disruption, and worry. Alhamdulillah, we can now see some light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel with vaccines being introduced worldwide.
One of the first scientists to have discovered the vaccine for Covid-19 were Muslims. We’ve highlighted their achievements in our article here.
Sadly, whenever we talk about the great Muslim achievements, we always mention how Muslims were the first to invent many of today’s knowledge, infrastructure, and tools. Yes, they formed the foundations of today’s modern world.
Looking Back to the Golden Age of Islam
From the first to invent a university to the first to invent a hospital, to the invention of numerals, algebra, we Muslims would always look back to the Golden Age of Islam. Famous names such as Ibn Sina, whose name was Latinised to Avicenna, and Ibn Rushd, whose name became Averroes in Latin, are often mentioned to prove Islam and Muslim contribution to the modern world.
The Golden Age of Islam was between the 8th Century to the 13th Century, where Islam flourished and created a civilisation where cultural, economic, and scientific combined and flourished. Baghdad was the center of the world, ruled by the Abbasid Dynasty.
Looking Ahead To A Modern World
Sadly, however, when we only highlight centuries past achievements, it is as if Muslims have not contributed anything to the modern world. We’re reaching the end of 2020, and more than anything else, the global lockdowns have pushed us further into the digital and scientific future.
The digital divide between nations, between cities and urban areas, between those with technological knowledge and those without, are becoming more apparent in 2020. Termed as the 4th Industrial Revolution, where advancements in technology is changing the way we live, work and interact with one another. Yet not much of these technological advancements have been known to be made by Muslims.
Here’s where Halalop comes in. We’re here to showcase Muslims’ achievements, in the modern-day, in the fields of science & technology, and in business. Business and science no longer function in silos, but their existence are now co-dependent of each other.
Highlighting Muslims’ achievements in the modern world, contributing to the advancement of technology and business – we, Muslims, need to be aware of their stories.
But why does it matter?
Changing the Narratives of Muslims
It’s more than just a feel good factor. Celebrating Muslim achievements of today, is more than just to inspire us. It’s to change how we see ourselves, and how we want the world to see us.
In Western media, Muslims are famously known as the other, the terrorists, the rejectors of modernity. In the Muslim world, the Muslim-majority countries, Muslims adore and idolise the West for their technological advancements and wealth.
The broader narrative of Muslims holding on to practising Islam is that it’s a dichotomy. Either modernise and embrace (incompatible) modern values, or choose Islam and be left to the Middle Ages. The French government is currently using this narrative by trying to legislate it.
So here’s why it matters to know, highlight, and even celebrate Muslims’ achievements in science, technology and business in the modern world:
- being a Muslim, practising Islam and embracing modernity, is normal and one can fit in and contribute to modern-day society as any other,
- Muslims can and do contribute to the scientific, technological and economic advancements of today,
- For Muslim individuals and Muslim societies, to gain their confidence in their own abilities for technological and economic progress.
Inspiring Modern Muslim Stories
Here are some of inspiring modern Muslims in science and technology we’ve covered previously:
- Muslim Turkish-German couple behind Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
- This Muslimah Scientist Discovered A New Galaxy And Its Now Named After Her
- From Rural Pakistan To NYC: 2 Inspiring Brothers Give Back With Free A.I. Education
- UAE launched Mission To Mars Led By Muslimah Scientist
- This Muslimah Scientist Invented Artificial Rain From Aircraft Vapor Trails To Combat Global Warming
- Scientist Making Faster Drug Discovery With AI To Treat COVID-19
Looking Ahead to a Stronger Global Islamic Economy
The global Islamic or Halal economy is estimated to be worth USD 22 trillion in 2019 on the various consumer sectors of food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, modest fashion, travel, and media and is expected to grow further. The valuation is based on the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/21 by Dinar Standard, which is the go-to source for information on the global Halal economy.
So why do celebrate this? Essentially this shows:
- Muslim consumers in Muslim countries are getting wealthier and have the purchasing power,
- Muslim consumers make buying decisions based on their Islamic values, whether in food, fashion travel or even in entertainment.
Building a Stronger Halal Ecosystem
While all is good on the consumer front for the Halal economy, there’s still much left to be desired for the producers of the Halal economy.
Consider this dichotomy:
Halal food is estimated to be worth $1.17 trillion of spending by 1.9 billion
Muslims on food & beverage in 2019. However, the top five Halal food producers are non-Muslim countries:
- Brazil – USD16.2 billion
- India – USD14.4 billion
- USA – USD13.8 billion
- Russia – USD11.9 billion
- Argentina – USD10.2 billion
When the halal supply chain is dominated by non-Muslim players, can Muslims be ensured of security and integrity of the halal products and services?
Let’s just highlight some of the controversies:
- Neither beef nor Halal in Malaysia
- Cadbury chocolate pork-free, says Malaysian Islamic body
- Scandal in Brazil’s “halal meat” exports across the Muslim world
Muslims need to be owners and dominate the halal economy, as producers. It’s not enough for us Muslims to just be consumers. It is not about exclusion; it is about empowering Muslims.
For that to happen, we need to support and strengthen our small businesses, and startups and help them grow.
Helping Small Businesses and Startups Grow in the Halal Economy
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of total business organizations, provide 60% to 70% of employment, and contribute to 55% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in developed economies.
In basic terms, SMEs form the backbone of an economy.
What we’ve learned from the lockdown lessons is that businesses need to go digital. The global lockdown has leapfrogged businesses and consumers by at least 5 years into the digital realm.
Ecommerce businesses boomed during lockdowns, and small business owners who are savvy enough to use digital platforms (whether marketplace platforms, food delivery platforms or even just plain Facebook) have the capacity to survive and thrive during this time. Yet, many more business owners are having difficulty grasping basic tech know-how.
At Halalop, we care about both small businesses and startups, and the Halal economy, and we especially care for small businesses and startups that focus on the Halal economy. We’re here to inform and educate on how these businesses can overcome their hurdles.
Our interview articles with startup founders and small business owners are here to highlight their achievements, and in turn, they share with us, and our readers, their tips of managing their business challenges.
Here are just some of our interviews with startup founders and small business owners:
- Digital Durian CEO Finds Success By Creating Content For Preschoolers
- Reaching Muslim Consumers Through Digital Ads With Muslim Ad Network
- How Collabdeen is unleashing the potential of the Muslim Ummah
In addition to these, we also highlight the Islamic values of Muslim thought leaders in the business fields. We’ve been honoured to have writing contributions from giants in the Islamic world, among them:
- Abdulrahman Bashaikh COO of Al Rajhi Awqaf
- Dr. Sayd Farook, Strategy and Foresight Advisor at the Executive Office of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Muslims today have enough thinkers, experts who are game-changers to make the world a better place. While it is still debatable whether we are in another golden age of Islam but we are certainly on the brink of it.
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.