Looking ahead into the future is of paramount importance for any organization that wants to stay on the top in their field of business. Today’s forecasts, business research are tomorrow’s profits. While all business school teaches this the message seems to have been lost in the majority of business. The organizations that do pay attention to the trend, and try to plan for the future come out as successful.

Islam guides about 2 billion people around the world and in United States there are growing numbers of people who are following the teachings of Islam. Understanding Islam and its followers will be a critical piece of strategy that no organization can ignore. This is my attempt at making it a bit more clear for people and organizations that want to grow or do business for/with Muslim community in the United States.

How different are Muslims? What can you do to make Muslims feel more welcomed and satisfied in doing business with you? These are the questions I will try and answer with my blogs.

Muslims are follower of the Islam; they believe that; “there is only one God and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his messanger”. Muslims are guide in their daily life by the set of laws listed in the Holy Quran. This blog is too small to cover all of these laws. At a very high level; you could say that Allah has listed as law the commonsense and best practice of any society, along with a wealth of information from astrology, medicine, Biology, physiology and much much more.

To understand the commercial habits of Muslims you have to understand that Muslims have prohibition to do certain things. The things that are prohibited are referred as “haraam”. For example, some foods ingredients that are considered haraam are:

Meat from swine: Any product that has directly or indirectly been extracted from pig/swine is forbidden.
Alcohol: Intoxicating beverages or items are forbidden from consumption.
BONE PHOSPHATE – E542: An anti-caking agent made from the degreased steam-extract from animal bones.
COCHINEAL/CARMINE – E120, E122: A red dyestuff consisting of dried bodies of female cochineal insects. Note: E124 Ponceau 4R is acceptable although it is sometimes known as Cochineal Red A.
GELATINE: Gelatine is an odorless, tasteless, protein substance like glue or jelly, obtained by boiling the bones, hoofs, and other waste parts of animals. Vegetarian alternatives such as Agar Agar and Gelozone exist.
GLYCERINE – E422: May be produced from animal fats, synthesized from propylene or from fermentation of sugars.
L-CYSTEINE: A flavor and improving agent manufactured from animal hair and chicken feathers.
MAGNESIUM STEARATE: May be made from animal fat. Often found in medicines.
RENNET (ANIMAL): An enzyme taken from the stomach of a newly killed calf used in the cheese making process. Vegetarian cheese is produced using microbial or fungal enzymes, or chymosin.
VANILLA EXTRACT: Vanilla is a plant product. It is extracted with alcohol as the solvent of choice, from the vanilla bean and is normally kept in a solution containing alcohol. If you examine at a bottle of vanilla extract, you will find it lists alcohol as an ingredient, along with the percentage of alcohol.
WHEY: During cheese making, a coagulum is formed by clotting milk with rennet. When the coagulum is cut, a watery liquid known as whey is released and drained off leaving the curd to be salted and further processed into cheese. Whey contains water, fat, protein, lactose, minerals and lactic acid. Cream, butter, cheese, drinks, syrups and powder are some of the products made from whey.
SHELLAC E904: a resin from the lac insect
EMULSIFIERS (E470 to E483): haraam if obtained from pork or non-halal sources.

There are some sections of Muslims who may have more food products (some seafood) that they would want to add to this list but I will not cover them in this post.

In my next post, I will cover Halal Finance and give some examples of how commercial transactions are conducted under Islamic guidelines.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.islamforlife.co.uk
http://muslimpopulation.com/