Though the discipline has been documented in academic circles relatively recently (Alserhan 2009), Islamic marketing has been around since ever Muslims have under taken consumption and promotional activity in the light of the teachings of their faith. To many, Islamic marketing is concerned with marketing of goods and services to Islamic communities as an untapped and viable market segment, while to others Islamic marketing involves marketing of such products and services that are considered as “Halaal” (permissible) Few also see Islamic marketing as the branding and packaging of conventional goods and services using “Islamic” or “Arabic” symbols. Such is the interest in the field that even those organisations that are considered secular in nature, and are owned by non Muslims have also jumped the boat to have their share of the “Islamic” dollar (Sandikci, 2011).
However, though its academic study is new, Islamic marketing is not really a new phenomenon , but one which has existed since ever Muslims, put into practice the teachings of the Qur’an within the sphere of their economic and corresponding social lives. Marketing is no longer the domain of Marketing departments, but an activity at the heart and soul of the organisation (Kotler 1999), hence Islamic marketing is not a niche but at the heart of the organisation.
Islamic marketing is a holistic activity, not restricted to marketing to Muslim consumers only but to all consumers as Islam does not bar Muslims from trading with non Muslims. Similarly, branding with Arabic text, images and symbols is not reminiscent of Islamic branding but as the Qur’an says that all human languages and colours are among the signs of Allah, such can be done is every mode of communication of the target consumer.
The diversity of beliefs and cultures within the global Islamic community mandates that a stereotypical approach to Islamic marketing and more specifically branding be discouraged.
The ethical and moral dilemmas that Marketers face in contemporary times, and how Islamic marketing in the light of Qur’anic guidance binds Muslim marketers to ethics in business needs to be explored. The importance of the Qur’an as a text of guidance for the Muslims and its application in all spheres of human activity is key in this regard.
Social uplift and community regeneration through Islamic Marketing should be brought into the limelight through examples and best practice, and it should be emphasized that Islamic marketing is not at all about increasing profits, but also concerns community welfare. In essence, the dynamic nature of Islamic marketing gives birth to the Islamic organisation, which as a social business exists to solve problems faced by communities and works towards providing material as well as spiritual needs of consumers.
Kashif Shahzada will be delivering a lecture on the topic of “Islamic Marketing: Marketing to Muslims or Marketing in the light of Qur’anic Guidance?” at the 2nd Global Islamic Marketing Conference (GIMC): “Putting Ethics Back into Business”, to be held in Abu Dhabi from 16th to 18th January 2012.