Islamic Marketing – A Halal-based Approach

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing,

marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

This conveys a message that stresses the relationship between self-interest and the interest of other people, i.e. our profits depend on how well we are able to satisfy other people’s needs. A perfect example to complete utilitarianism, in which, it ignores all other values except materialistic gains. Modern marketing is obviously built upon materialism and utilitarianism; it does not distinguish socially acceptable and unacceptable products and services.

Muslims define marketing from a different value perspective. Marketing activities and objectives should not be driven solely by the customer requirements and towards corporate profitability. Its fundamental operative principle is to offer socially and religiously acceptable products and services profitably. In terms of Islamic belief, socially and religiously acceptable products and services are those Halal products and services. Halal means in strict conformity with the requirements stipulated in Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. The opposite word to it is Haram.

Socially acceptable and religiously acceptable have been perceived by most people as two mutually exclusive concepts. This is not necessarily true. In contrary to our conventional wisdom, their relationship is a mutually inclusive and interactive one. The point is that we should be able to differentiate a religious value system from superstition. Superstition is a primitive human response to fears and unknowns. A religious value system reflected in the way of lifestyles and traditions is the establishment of a special kind of social relationship with reference to a collection of experiences and revelations of mankind in their search of excellence. In marketing context, this is what we call legitimacy.

Legitimacy means the congruence between the operations of a firm, including its products, and the values of the society in which the firm conducts its business. A Halal industry as related to the issue of legitimacy is the fact that it must deal with quality and societal challenges to a far greater extent than a non-Halal industry, due to the absence of widespread public approval in the markets where it operates. Islamic marketing concept differs, as it believes that customer requirements must be regulated with good intents in response to legitimate social expectations.

Islam is the religion that explicitly encourages marketing as a promoted human activity on earth. “Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury (riba)” (2:275). Riba is considered a sinful anti-marketing practice.

In conclusion, the suggested definition for Islamic marketing with a Halal-based approach is therefore as follows:

The management process responsible for identifying , anticipating and satisfying the Islamic customer requirements profitably.”

**This article was first published in The Halal Journal Jul/Aug 2005 edition, and was written by Dr. Yaasin Charles Chan  (Halal Food Council International).

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