SME or Sweden’s Muslim Entrepreneurs is a Cooperative company established by a group of brothers. The purpose of this Cooperative is to initiate the establishment of a new Finance sector providing investment & finance models tailormade for the Muslim community in order to strengthen it In sha Allah.
The Muslim community in Sweden today represents almost 10% of the total population, which is among the highest in EU (far greater than the UK) Masha Allah.
The first generation of Muslims arrived here in Sweden in larger numbers first in the late 60s and early 70s, and since then more waves of Muslims have arrived due to mainly fleeing conflicts in their home countries. Our community has now reached its 3rd generation in Sweden Masha Allah, which means that two generations are born and raised here.
Being the founder of SME I would like to share my own story briefly and my vision for the community and SME. My parents came to the Sweden in the mid-70s and they worked in all kinds of labor jobs you can imagine (even if they were Masha Allah highly qualified) in order to provide for us just like most of our parents in the first generation did.
The first generation’s focus was mainly survival & establishing themselves to give us (their children) a stable life in our new homeland. I will not question or focus on what the first generation has achieved or could not achieve, although the first generation did some excellent work with early establishment of mosques, Quran schools and other associations that has formed our community’s foundations and backbone in Sweden. May Allah reward our parents for their hard work, ameen.
I would like to instead focus on us, the second generation of Muslims, who are born and/or raised in Sweden. We (the second generation) have mastered the Swedish language unlike our parents, and we know this country better than our parents in terms of its potentials. Another key difference between the first generation and our generation is that most of us see Sweden as our home country. Basically, whether we like it or not, whether we feel welcomed or not, we are here to stay.
Now let us ask ourselves the question: What has the Muslim community (specifically the second generation) in Sweden really achieved in Sweden during the last 15-20 years?
I can only answer this question from my own perspective. I was 17 years old when my parents decided to migrate from Sweden to the UK. After 14 years in the UK, I returned back to Sweden in 2015. To my surprise it was a shock for me to see how far behind the community was in Sweden, not just compared to the UK but compared to how I left it.
What progress has really happened in the last 15 years? The only real highlights in my view have been that a few more beautiful mosques have been built alhamdulillah (which are still struggling to cover their daily expenses), some new Muslim private schools have been established (that are attacked by media and by politicians every week) and some next generation of Dawah has started using the power of social media and technology (which is a very positive development).
But the key area where we have seen most significant progress in my view has been: plenty of new and fancy halal restaurants! We Muslims love our food Masha Allah and this is the field where we have excelled the most and where we get the most engagement from the community!
But what about the progress in the field of Islamic finance and investment?
It is amazing that the Muslim community has not succeeded in establishing even a basic Islamic investment and finance alternative here in Sweden over a span of over 50 years. There are only 2 major sins in Islam where Allah SWT himself declares war upon the culprits: those who bear malice towards a Wali of Allah and those who indulge in Riba. So it should amaze us how we have neglected to address solutions for this major problem that affects all of the community and brings the wrath of Allah.
Halal investment and finance alternatives are a very basic need for our community if we would like to strengthen ourselves and have a sustainable future. The community cannot simply succeed without such sector in the long-term. How will we grow our savings for the next generation? How will we finance new businesses and institutions?
Just look at for example at the UK, Canada and USA. The Muslim communities there are lightyears ahead of us Masha Allah! We should take inspiration from our brothers and sisters and work towards locally adapted solutions in Sweden.
Here is a mind-blowing comparison: There is a cooperative called Ansar Housing (ACHC) in Canada (www.ansarhousing.com). They started the halal home purchase model in Canada over 30 years ago while in Sweden the Muslim community hardly had resolved the issue of halal meat!
I am 34 years old, and many in my age (born in the 80s) would remember that when we were young (long time ago), many of our families travelled in ferries across the channel to Denmark for our halal meat and grocery shopping! And while we were doing this, our brothers and sisters in Canada were developing models for halal home purchase!
Maybe we are far behind my brothers and sisters but trust me we have been blessed with everything to start this journey ourselves. A journey towards self-reliance and prosperity In sha Allah by opening up new frontiers for us in the field of halal investment and finance.
We need to take inspiration and learn from the experience from our siblings in other parts of the west. Each model that works in the UK, US or Canada may not work here in Sweden, but we got to start the work somewhere and identify what models would work or simply develop our own ones!
Whether you belong to this so-called second generation of Muslims OR if you have recently arrived in Sweden (in the last 5-10 years), Allah has blessed each of us with strengths that only we and Allah are aware of. We all will be questioned about our strengths and skills, how we gained them and how we used them. So let us please join this mobilization that SME has started and unite our strengths so that we can strengthen our ummah In sha Allah.
Sheikh Zafree (a respectable scholar from Bangladesh with vast expertise and experience in the field of Islamic finance globally) said in an event that SME had arranged in Gothenburg that according to his view it was wajib for the Muslims of Sweden to support SME’s efforts in establishing Islamic finance and investment alternatives in Sweden due to its significant importance for the community.
My beloved brothers and sisters, all we need is the will-power and pure intentions, once we have these then Allah will grant us victory In sha Allah.
Let us start this journey together with SME for the sake of Allah and for strengthening the Ummah of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him).
May Allah grant us victory and success ameen.