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The rise of Muslim entrepreneurs: 4 Islamic influencers you should be following

The words “Muslim” and “entrepreneur” are not as odd to find together in the same sentence as they were twenty years ago.

As much as we hate to admit it, Islam is still a main subject of a long battle that won’t end until the dream of social justice becomes our everyday reality.

Even from an economic standpoint, Islam has taken a while to catch up with the Western world, lacking in societal progression and overall subjects of gender rights and equal compensation.

With an aggregation of authoritarian governments found in primarily Muslim countries, it becomes that much harder to thrive in a pre-set world, whose teachings are based off archaic cultural limitations found in the Quran.

Professor of Business and International Affairs Hossein Askari discusses the seperation, or lack there of, between the Islamic government and the laws of the people saying,

“The Islamic economic and financial system embraces these recommendations but demands even more of Muslims—social and economic justice and morality in all economic interactions. In Islam, the rules, institutions, operations and practice of the Islamic economic and financial system are outlined in the Quran and interpreted and put into practice by the Prophet Mohammad.”

But nowadays, connected by a multitude of events, communities, and organizations of progressive thinkers, innovators have worked together to make our world a much safer and fruitful place for Muslim women to thrive.

Within the past couple of years, the UK has been seeing a rise of Hijabi entrepreneurs. One expo in particular, the Muslim Lifestyle Expo, exhibits, shares and helps grow Muslim-based brands,

Tahir Mirza, the founder, had only positive things to say regarding the new development of the yearly gatherings.

“The stereotype of Muslim women stuck in the kitchen and carrying out household chores are long gone. When we announced this year’s dates for MLE2016, we were inundated with inquiries from Muslim women from not only the UK but across the world wanting to exhibit.

Tahir also revealed that 60% of the 130 exhibitors that were part of the expo were female entrepreneurs with inventions ranging from “luxury prayer mats and Islamic’s r toys, to fashion, accessories and cosmetics.”

“It is refreshing to see how these mumpreneurs are shattering the myth that Muslim women are held back and oppressed… According to our research, women represent 50% of the [Muslim] start-up business community and this figure is set to grow further over the next few years.”

It seems that this modern development has reached every sector of business. From the streets to the runway, these Muslim women are switching things up in every part of the world, whether in the East or West, Islam in business is taking on a whole new meaning.

Huda Kattan

Huda Kattan’s fame has transformed the world of cosmetics. She is currently the highest gross earning beauty blogger on Instagram, building her 24 million following into her very own makeup empire. She tells Forbes,

“I feel like I’m so not a normal person when it comes to my approach on beauty… It’s a very weird approach. People don’t really know where to categorize us. They’re like, ‘are you a beauty brand, are you an influencer, or are you a brand?’ We’re kind of all of those things; it’s all coming together very organic, and one thing is leading the rest.”

Kattan doesn’t hold back when it comes to testing out products. “I’m totally the guinea pig,” she shares a story of once using Vagisal as a primer, and falling in love with the effects that she wound up eventually making her own out of  dimethicone (found in the product) and rose oil.

A top-20 internet beauty blogger and business woman, Kattan won’t be stopping anytime soon. She has an estimated worth of 4.5 million, and we can expect to see her empire grow at a constant incline.

Asma Mansour

Asma Mansour grew up, like most women in raised in a Muslim family, restricted by traditional rules.

As a student at Manouba University, Mansour became part of several organizations like the Junior Chamber International where she got involved in various aspects of activism.

Her experience at university eventually lead her to finding the Tunisian Center of Entrepreneurship during the 2011 Tunisian revolution. She was quoted saying,

“We have to think of how to solve social problems and to push the economy for growth.”

The center aims to educate, inspire and strengthen exposure for social entrepreneurship. With Tunisia considered a growing hub for justice, the TCE might be the support needed to progress the country to the next step.

Sheeza Shah

Shah founded The Up Effect, a platform designed to help social impact businesses get to where they need to be.

After graduating with an MSc in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship, she decided to take the world of tech head-on, while remaining focused on helping others through their entrepreneurial journey.

Rather than focusing on business alone, what separates The Up Effect from other crowdfunding platforms is the push for social equity.

From an interview with Shah in Brown Girl Magazine:

“When you look at the work of the companies The Up Effect is involved with – renewable energy, ethical fashion, clean drinking water – you can see that Shah is one entrepreneur who wants to make a long-term difference in the world. “

She shares that she hopes to “solve the biggest issues in the world.”

“A business needs to be sustainable and profitable, but most importantly ensure the profits are for the right use. Most non-profit organizations run inefficiently, with 50% of their resources maxed out in fundraising alone, leaving little or no time to run the company itself. Such firms are heavily dependent on donations and third parties but can’t run independently.”

Halima Aden

happy birthday @badgalriri ❤

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She’s known as the world’s first hijab-wearing model.

Originally a refugee from Somalia, Halima shared with Bazaar that growing up wasn’t easy.

Her family moved over to the states when she was seven years old. By the time she was in middle school, she had trouble identifying with her Muslim and Black roots.

Going against the grain, Halima rose to stardom in 2016, while pictures of her at a Miss Minnesota USA pageant included her wearing a “burkini.”

But past the fashion statements, Halima’s love for her career doesn’t come from her love for clothes, rather, the cultural and religious representation that she’s now able to uphold when it comes to Islam in our mainstream society.

“For me, anytime I saw somebody who dressed like me in a movie, the character was someone oppressed. There was just a narrative to it that didn’t match mine. Same thing with the news. Every time I saw somebody who looked like me, chances were they were doing something bad. Now, I get to represent my community to the majority.” 

For her future plans, Halima hopes to one day become part of UNICEF as a global ambassador.