Generation M. By Shelina Janmohamed. I. B. Tauris. 2016 £12.99
You know that infamous scene from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, when the children walk into the cupboard and step into an entirely new world. Shelina somehow manages to do that in this book. The vast majority of authors of Muslim heritage highlight the plight of being stuck between cultures, whereas Shelina talks about Muslims – just like the children about to step into Narnia – being on the cusp of something great.
This book was commissioned by Shelina’s workplace Ogilvy and Mather, an advertising agency that has dedicated an entire section of the company, Ogilvy Noor on the Muslim consumer and this book is the product of the research that has gone into the business. It’s oddly inspiring for such a commercial venture.
The book highlights the different industries such as fashion, music, makeup and most importantly, food. The halal food and beverage sector alone in 2014 was estimated at over $1.1 trillion which is no small number. Shelina talks to the various entrepreneurs in each industry and how each one find themselves stuck between cultures and the frustrations due to the lack of choices available to them as Muslim consumers. They use those junctures as opportunities to grow and to create a brand of their own as opposed to accepting what is given to them. This young vibrant segment of their population – called Generation M – use their faith as a jumping board to innovate products that are thoroughly modern and do not compromise their ‘halal’ principles.
In times when Islam (and as a result Muslims) is seen to be at odds with modernity, this book debunks that image with numerous examples from a wide variety of industries.
This book was a bit of a case of preaching to the choir. The material in this book was nothing new to me, as I suppose it is intended for a different audience. Nonetheless, reading case upon case of Muslim successes was inspiring. In these dark times for our community, this book highlights that our faith is not an obstacle but a source of strength which is what it’s intended to be.
Shelina’s ability to write that takes the book to another level. It is a pleasure to read, albeit the subject a bit dry. So do pick up the book if you’re looking for a little bit of light in these dreary grey times.
Aasiya I Versi