Riddle of Poverty & Muslim Entrepreneurship

By Abdulla Umer Khan

In India, who is most backward-economically and educationally, has highest unemployment rate and makes for highest percentage of incarcerated population? It is the Muslim community which is continuously falling into a pit of self-destruction.

While many observers and analysts have already highlighted the need for economic upliftment of the poor, in my view the key to breaking the vicious circle of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment is entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is the back bone of every successful community, like Sindhi, Marwari, Banya, Bohra and Kachi to name a few.

And as long as we do not recognize the need for systematic encouragement of Muslim entrepreneurship we will not be able to get out of the dire situation we are in.

Back in 2006-07 when I just graduated, my peer from our community consciously recognized the need to stop migrating to other cities and countries and take up entrepreneurship to create employment opportunities.

With the intention of entrepreneurship and creating employment opportunities we formed a committee but after many meetings it was still not clear what we could do, and what efforts we should put in. Our intentions never took off and eventually all members of the committee took different career paths to different countries.

Still there was a longing to have their own setup to be able to come back to India.

The spirit of entrepreneurship renewed once again when two members of the same committee started two different enterprises-one called Saral another called Clickkarr.

Both were novel concepts having equal amount of creativity. I felt that a little effort and discipline would take both the enterprises to next level in no time but sadly both came to an abrupt end owing to various reasons.

With little guidance and financial support these enterprises would have certainly survived.  Their survival would also have encouraged many young aspirants to take up entrepreneurship. Such failures not only discouraged the ones who made an effort to start something but also others who want to follow suit in future.

In order to promote entrepreneurship, we also have to bypass the mammoth hurdle of ‘interest’ (riba) which is forbidden in Islam.

As reported by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet (SAW) said: “There will certainly come a time for mankind when everyone will take riba and if he does not do so, its dust will reach him.” (Abu Dawud, Kitab al-Buyu’, Bab fi ijtinabi al-shubuhat; also in Ibn Majah)

Most of us are directly or indirectly connected to some operation which runs on interest. It is difficult to start a business without indulging in give or take of riba. It is also one of the reasons why Muslims are not able to make use of present day prevalent banking system and continue to be poor.

It’s scary to imagine the Day of Judgment and see all our deeds counts to nothing because we were somehow connected with riba. By any chance, if some of us still managed to stay away of riba then still there would be a day when riba will become a regular thing.

There is an urgent need to promote Muslim entrepreneurship by forming committees and forums which can encourage youth to think creative and present their ideas and the best ideas get the funds it requires to flourish or get implemented.

After highlighting the need for entrepreneurship and its problems, I request people to come forward with ideas.

I would like to start by presenting my idea–which is to establish a business forum which organizes entrepreneurship workshops, entrepreneurship competitions and invite and peruse Muslim entrepreneurs to fund the ideas etc.

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Abdulla Umer Khan is from Karimnagar, Telangana and is presently working in Dubai and can be reached at abdullaumer@outlook.com

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