Exciting Times Ahead for the Islamic Economy
What an exciting time to be in the Islamic economy! From Islamic finance to halal food and pharmaceuticals, halal travel, modest fashion, Islamic fintech and Islamic education, they’re all picking up enormous pace, driven by the increase in economic development and private wealth of 1.8 billion Muslims.
You may have been following recent developments at the UK Islamic FinTech Panel as well as the work being undertaken by Gateway Islamic Advisory and Elipses to harness the Islamic economy in a uniquely productive way. We’re not just focusing on the $2.2 trillion of Islamic banking assets – we’re looking at the halal economy in a holistic way: across other lifestyle sectors, it’s already worth more than Islamic banking assets. We believe London is a central hub in this rapidly expanding global economy. Watch this space – we believe this will be a game changer, inshaAllah.
On a related note, this week has been a particularly hectic one: through Cordoba Capital, we have announced an investment in my wife’s Islamic Education app, ilmspired. So I’m not only officially an edtech investor and an active participant in the halal economy, but I’m also working with my wife! By the grace of God, Sadia and I are still best friends. (Please pray it stays that way).
I wouldn’t blame you if you thought that I’m only investing because she’s my wife. Actually I’m very wary of investing with friends and family: there’s too much non-financial downside risk. But the commercial case was too compelling for me to ignore and it’s driven by personal experience as a father of three.
When I was young, I was sent with my brothers to the local mosque madrassa, a primitive learning environment consisting of meaningless rote learning exercises, punctuated with the swish of a wooden ruler across the hands. I resented every minute of it and emerged with virtually zero benefit (and red hands). I resolved that my children would not go through the same misery.
When Sadia was appointed the first non-Arab Head of Islamic Studies at a Dubai school, she brought a fresh approach to the subject that surprisingly had not been seen before in the country. Her revised curriculum combined traditional learning with modern pedagogy and a relevance for the real world. How does Islam require us to be stewards of this planet, to care for our environment and the people around us? How do we apply the tenets of our faith to be better people? Why do we do these things? Her department became somewhat famous amongst Dubai schools for its emphasis on learning through interaction, and they invited her to train other teachers in her methodology.
When we relocated back to the UK, she worked with local community members in our home town to teach children Islamic studies. Now at last my own children would not have to suffer the dire experience that my brothers and I went through in the 1980s, an experience that seems to persist even today. She set about digitising her curriculum by taking it a step further: designing 65 games to cover the entire syllabus. Here was a tech-enabled solution to a real problem.
To me, as a parent searching for a solution for his children to learn about the beauty of Islam and its relevance to the modern world, not only is the commercial case a no-brainer, but it’s socially impactful as well. That’s why I invested.
I’m seeing amazing things in the halal economy right now. You may be reading this blog on IslamicMarkets.com, another personal favourite of mine for the way in which it is connecting the global Islamic economy in an unprecedented way. Every day I am approached by entrepreneurs who believe they have found a solution to a problem through the power of technology. If you have discovered a halal economy solution to a problem (even if it’s not a tech solution), share your thoughts with us below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And do please check out www.ilmspired.com!