A unique and groundbreaking "1000 Sisters' voices" survey carried out by Ummah Foods, a "new generation" British Muslim food company, and by SISTERS, the inspirational new magazine for Muslim women, has found that, while an overwhelming majority view Islam as their guide to life, read the Qur'an and observe hijab, they also shop at high street stores, go out to eat and travel regularly. The picture that emerges is one of a population balancing the demands of their faith with the opportunities afforded by life in the UK.
Khalid Sharif, founder of Ummah Foods, and Na'ima B. Robert, editor of SISTERS Magazine, began asking some interesting questions about the lives of Muslim women in the UK so they could improve their products for them. The result has been a groundbreaking look at the thoughts, opinions and ideas of Muslim women in the UK. The survey, which is the largest ever, gathered respondents from all walks of life, from around the UK, all eager to give their views on issues as diverse as their relationship with Islam, their opinions of hijab, halal shopping, Internet use, entrepreneurship and of course Muslim men and marriage.
One of the most surprising findings was that British Muslim women, married and unmarried, are still romantics at heart.
Finding a soul mate and settling down in a happy family environment were top of the women's list with 96 per cent of women saying that this is what marriage meant to them. But they were also keen to find ways of successfully combining work with family life.
As in all communities everywhere, the respondents believed that "good men are hard to find". Education, personality and a high affinity with the principles of Islam were top of most lists.
Also of interest to Muslim men is the fact that, while character and Islamic knowledge come top of the Muslim woman's wish list, racial background is ranked as one of the least important aspects.
Outside of family life, finding ways of helping to resolve the challenges facing the British Muslim Community far outweighed thoughts or concerns about global issues with 70 per cent opting for issues in the UK with the remaining looking to Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
One of the more interesting aspects of the survey was that Muslim women seem to have turned their backs on the major supermarket chains when it comes to halal food shopping with only 10 per cent choosing the supermarkets.
Khalid Sharif, Managing Director of Ummah Foods commented: "The major food retailers have not yet grasped how to attract Muslim shoppers. One of our key objectives at Ummah is to help the Supermarkets develop and offer products that meet the ethical codes that most Muslims want to abide by. We are trying hard to encourage the major chains to think more creatively about how best to tap into this important market and to encourage more Muslim women into their stores."
He added "We asked Muslim women in the UK what they would like us to do next, and the unanimous call was for premium chocolates. We listened carefully to their suggestions, and are now very pleased to announce the launch of five new products in the Ummah Foods Premium Halal Chocolate range"
Na'ima B. Robert, editor of SISTERS magazine, said, "As the UK's first magazine for Muslim women, we respond to how Muslim women in the UK today define themselves. In this survey, we wanted to hear their thoughts, ideas and concerns - so that we may better address these in our magazine."
She added "SISTERS aims to satisfy the Muslim woman's varied needs – spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and practically, in a beautiful, glossy package. It's our very own 'halal Glamour'!"
"All of us at SISTERS and at Ummah Foods are delighted with the responses we have received so far. We have managed to get so much interesting information and the whole process has been a real eye-opener for us, as businesses and as part of the British Muslim community. We are definitely looking forward to doing another one next year!"
Source: Times (English)