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Are we getting materialistic?

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Are we getting materialistic?
10/16/05 at 08:00:37

Cornflakes for Breakfast, CDs for Quran
By M. Hanif Lakdawala

There is tremendous change in the attitude and preference of the Indian Urban Muslims, leading to a shift in their lifestyles.

• Nasreen, 12, is more comfortable with cornflakes for her breakfast rather than the traditional breakfast.
• Yasmeen, 9, gets her Arabic and Quran recitation lessons through computer CD’s with once-in-a-week mentoring session by her Arabic teacher.
• Rehan, 13, convinced his parents to allow him to wear jeans and other western outfits and finds himself more comfortable in those.
• Zarina, 32, is taking cooking lessons to learn Lebanese, Mexican and Continental dishes to suit the changing palate of her family.

No doubt, the consumer behaviour theories say that marketers must take care of the socio-cultural preference of the consumer, we see that consistent exposure to the advertisements has led to tremendous change in the attitude and preference of the Indian urban Muslims and is leading to a shift in their life style.

There are hundreds of children like Nasreen who after being exposed to commercial messages have changed their food habits. Tahir Khandwani, partner of Badri Chemist, in south Mumbai said that maximum sales of cornflakes are the purchases by the children in the age group of 9-14. “Mostly, children come along with their parents and persuade them to buy cornflakes. Other products which sell well, reflecting the change in the taste of the Muslims are noodles, different kinds of spices, sauces and artificial flavours,” he said.

Even the religious education reflects the changing lifestyle among the Muslims. Declining enrolment in the local madrassas is quite discernible in Mumbai. Many of those who were teaching in the local madrassas are now doing alternative jobs such as translation.

Unlike the past generation which attended the local madrassa and read Islamic literature, the current generation is more comfortable with Personal computer and CD’s. Not only the English speaking, but also vernacular medium students are more comfortable with information Technology.

A survey by this correspondent of four city colleges run by Muslim managements reveals that even today the girls are still comfortable with the traditional dress of salwar-kameez, but the boys are shifting towards western outfits. But when it comes to girls between the ages of 7 – 14, the shift towards western outfit, i.e. jeans /T shirts is quite obvious. Will this preference continue even when girls attain puberty?

Saeed Rabbani, a scrap dealer said that once the girl crosses 15, he will persuade her to switch to traditional dresses. “My daughter got influenced by her friends wearing western outfits and hence wants to have it for herself. Since she is 11, I gave permission. Her mother was not in favour, but I said let her wear it till she is in school”, said Saeed.

Anita Manjrekar, consumer research analyst said that peer pressure influences the lifestyle. “In a plural country like India, it is the aspiration of the people which gets influenced by the various other cultures and their life style. A community which is dominating, its culture will influence other communities and raises their aspirational level, in the process changing their life style,” she said.

Whether its food habits, dressing sense, religious education, or the perception about entertainment, there is a discernible shift amongst the Urban Indian Muslim. In a random survey by this correspondent, the perception towards entertainment has also changed dramatically. Out of 58 students, between the 17- 22 age group, 79 per cent opines that entertainment such as going to multiplex, viewing serials, theme park and music is an integral part of their life. 64 per cent are aware about their culture and are conscious of the fact that it is affecting their life style. The change is more discernible with the Muslim professionals who for the sake of assimilating with their corporate culture, change their life style. Asif Patni, a dot net technology expert said that he hardly wears the traditional dress or eats traditional food. “I have now adjusted myself with the corporate culture. I neither have time nor I find any reason not to do so”, he said.

The changing life style is most visible in any marriage function.

Are Muslims also becoming as materialistic as any other community? 89 per cent of the Muslim students said that if given a choice, they will opt for spirituality or traditional life in comparison to a material- based life style. But the continuous messages from the corporate world through the advertisements is influencing Muslims and pushing them towards materialism.

The thread of customer-centricity runs through the work of Venkat Ramaswamy and C.K. Prahalad’s, ‘In The Future of Competition.’ The two professors at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business argue that product and service differentiation are passé. Competitive advantage lies in meaningful customer experiences.

Thus the corporate world is finding innovative methods to lure every segment of the society. It is not possible that the Muslims remain unaffected. But the question is can the Muslim community afford to become materialistic as any other? Then what about the finer aspects of Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) teachings?

(The writer can be reached at

Re: Are we getting materialistic?
10/19/05 at 10:00:32

The muslim community will never be free of catching the materialism bug unless we be at alert by following the way of the prohpet(SAWS), we should not forget that other nations with their own way of life abound during the time of prophet Muhammad(SAWS), it was out of sheer hard work that he maintained sanity in him own ummah.

The willingness to maintain such sanity within our own family, community and nation is the bane of the muslims now.  

Why should we allow our children to tell us what they want to do and we agree with them when we know its just not right?

We have to maintain and deliberately enforce the Islamic tradition within our family, this is the only way forward for  a sane islamic  society.
10/19/05 at 10:05:13

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