Can Marketing be Islamic?
Islamic Marketing is a very new field in Marketing. While concepts of inviting non-Muslims towards Islam (da’wah) and enjoining others to do good and forbid evil (amr ma’ruf nahi munkar) are not alien to the Islamic tradition, these have to be recognized as the communication process of the value delivery, and a tip of what Islamic Marketing could really be all about. Islamic ethics within economics as well is not new, with the Prophet being known as the Truthful one (Al-Amin) and himself a trader.
This unique combination resulted in many early Arabian merchants converting into Islam because of this admiration of the commendable character and through that, bringing with them the entrepreneurial zest and motivation needed to further advance the religion. Transactions and trade (Muamalat and Tijarah) are also not new in the Islamic tradition and are much related with the revenue and costing aspects of the process of marketing too.
Here the attention is towards fair pricing, removing of uncertainty, gambling, interest and activities considered haram. Islamic Finance, a relatively new subject in itself, has gained much strides in the advancement of its own models and principles.
However, the challenge here is that all of the above, when viewed from a marketing lens in relation to Islamic principles and practices, are in bits and pieces and have not yet been unified as a proper body of knowledge. There has also been not been an in-depth study into what Islam can really offer to the social science of marketing. Much of current discussions are loose and based on applications of Islamic principles to contemporary western ideas of marketing, or adaptive reform (Ramadan, 2009).
While this application of principles is important, this may not address the root challenges such ideas have been based on which may not be faithful to the ethics and principles of the Islamic tradition. Hence, serious study and research also needs to be put into place in order for new models and frameworks to emerge, that is transformational reform (Ramadan 2009), grounded in Islamic teachings and principles.
The best definition for Islamic Marketing is that “Islamic Marketing is the study of marketing phenomena in relation to Islamic principles and practices or within the context of Muslim societies” (Jafari, 2012). Here Islamic Marketing could be religion-based marketing (Alserhan, 2011) in which your marketing actvities are guided within the framework of Islamic Shariah, or Islamic Marketing could also mean the practices carried out by companies, Muslims or otherwise, to Muslim consumers (Alserhan, 2011).
The industry as well is new. Only in 2010 was the Journal of Islamic Marketing created to lay the foundation of, and advance, Islamic marketing as a new discipline. Even renowned international marketing agency Ogilvy and Mather published Ogily Noor to look into Islamic branding in 2010. The first Global Islamic Marketing Conference began in 2011. The first published marketing book attempting to deal with the subject in a structured manner “The Principles of Islamic Marketing” by Dr Alserhan also was published in 2011.
What can the advancement of Islamic Marketing offer?
According to Ogilvy Noor (2012), the Muslim consumer market, consisting of 1.8billon people is undeniably the next important (and largely untapped) global opportunity. The halal market alone is worth US$2.1 trillion a year and is increasing at US$500bn a year due to the growth of the global Muslim population. It is expected that the global Muslim consumer Market will reach $30 trillion by 2050 (Alserhan, 2011).
For both Muslims as well as non-Muslims, this represents a tremendous business opportunity to create new products and services to the needs and nuances of niche Muslim markets, such as swimwear catering to Muslimah, or accommodation services which take into account family and gender issues relevant to the Muslim context. For Muslims engaged in business activities, Islamic Marketing is another advancement towards staying true to our beliefs and principles as Muslims, in the context of marketing.
Here the advancement of this science is important because it is our communal religious duty (fard kifayah) to be represented as those who champion this new social science which roots itself it the Quran and Sunnah. At the same time, this initiative is in the spirit of past great scholars who developed their own frameworks and methodologies (e.g. usul Fiqh), and it is our greater calling to make this religion come alive in the field of marketing.
(Article adapted from http://www.islamicmarketing.org)
Hafihz is the Editor of islamicmarketing.org. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in marketing from the National University of Singapore and has industry experience spanning close to a decade. He is also a Member of The Chartered Institute of Marketing (MCIM), a Chartered Islamic Marketer (CIMA) with the International Islamic Marketing Association (IIMA) and is a Certified Islamic Finance Executive (CIFE). In addition, he has authored three books, a publication in an academic journal and presented a paper at the 4th Global Islamic Marketing Conference in Istanbul Turkey. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Science in Marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn.