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Indian Muslims Inc. Their Market & Global Business Impact

Indian Muslims Inc. Their Market
& Global Business Impact



It may surprise many, but Muslims’ trade links to the Indian Subcontinent go back to the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, c. 571 – 632) when Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, which was a link between them and the trading ports of South East Asia.

According to historians Elliot and Dowson, the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD.

It is also claimed that the first Indian mosque was built in 629 A.D in Kodungallur (Kerala) by Malik Bin Deenar, an Arab trader who reached the ancient port of Musuris on the spice route in Malabar.


Today, this heritage of trade relations is richly evident in major business families of Gulf Arab States who hail from the Indian State of Kerala. Mr. Yusuf Ali, a Kerala native, leads one of the largest regional conglomerates based in Dubai, UAE, called the EMKE Group (it owns Lulu Supermarkets and others with revenue of $1.2 billion in 2006.)  Many other major business powerhouses such as the Fatimah Group, KMT Group, Gulfar also have deep connections to the region of Kerala.

According to the World Fact Book, Muslims in India are today estimated to be 151 million (2007), making them the third largest Muslim population in the world, trailing only Indonesia (201 million) and Pakistan (159 million).

On the one hand, the socio-economic state of this demographic is reflected in the success of Muslim communities of Kerala, or by the fact that one of the richest Indians is a Gujarati Muslim, Azim Premji, chairman of the global IT services giant Wipro Ltd (est. wealth by Forbes at US $17 bill), or that the many global cultural and media icons of India are Muslims (from Bollywood movie stars Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan to tennis pro Sania Mirza and recognized artist MF Hussain). At the same time, these iconic representations are also tainted by communal tensions, bias and the dismal socio-economic state of much of India’s larger Muslim population.

Nevertheless, given the significant size of this demographic in a country that is becoming a global economic powerhouse, very little is known or explored about the overall market of Muslims in India. For example:

  • Which industries are Indian Muslims most active in?

  • Given their Muslim identity – do they offer a unique set of market opportunities?

  • What is their role in the recent IT services boom in India? and,

  • What are their business relationships globally and in other Muslim countries that can be leveraged?

In this brief report, we profile the huge population of Muslims in India who represent a mixed bag of prosperous local, regional and global business owners as well as those living in a dismal socio-economic state. We look at their market opportunity, as well as review successful Indian Muslim run businesses as partnership potentials.

For the entrepreneurs in the Indian Muslim community, closer to home, is a set of unique business opportunities to tap into..

For Muslim foreign investors, Indian Muslims not only offer an opportunity to tap into their lifestyle sectors of Islamic finance in particular, but also provide a means to benefit from the overall economic boom of India and partner with the successful pharmaceutical, technology, media, construction and other Muslim run enterprises.

For Indian and global consumer goods and services marketers, the Indian Muslim community is a lucrative segment whose needs could be better addressed while building profitable brand loyalt

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