Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, British author of award winning Love in a Headscarf and vice president of the Islamic Branding consultancy Ogilvy Noor, has just released her new title Generation M. Generation M is a textualized documentary, exposing the diverse nature of young Muslim entrepreneurs of the 21st century. We could also say that it’s an exposé by a Muslim insider who knows what it is like to be born Muslim, raised Muslim, and go through life as a Muslim with seemingly limited choices. The book nails the depiction of contemporary young Muslims: innovative, entrepreneurial, trend catchers and setters, steadfast in faith, and very passionate about improving their lifestyle because they believe that faith and modernity go hand in hand.
In my opinion, Generation M, the people, walks the fine line between innovation that adds to Islam and innovation that doesn’t add to our faith. Along the way, the lines get blurred a bit and this is where only the future will tell how Generation M handles these challenges. For now, their achievements are celebratory and really good PR.
Generation M the book is composed of 15 chapters split into five main parts. Part one introduces “Salaam, Generation M.” Part two is about “The Global Muslim Lifestyle” while part three is “Culture: The New Muslim Cool”. Part four is titled “The New Twenty-First Century Ummah” and finally part five is about “The Faithful Future.”
In part one, Janmohamed says, “If publishers are guilty of monolithic misery memoirs, then Muslims must also take some of the blame for not sharing our universal experiences in a language and context that everyone can relate to.” This spoke to me because it’s true. Our narrative is still lacking, and we must all make the effort to be the curators of our time, of our true history.
In Part two, Janmohamed highlights how important halal and tayyab (organic and wholesome) are to Generation M. These concepts are matters that they don’t play with. Be a shady vendor and you will not get away with it when they find out because they always do. We also see that halal and tayyab don’t stop at meat consumption, they cover a wider radius of seeking out ‘good’ things.
In part three, we find out about Donna Auston and the reasoning behind #BlackMuslimRamadan, amongst other interesting Generation M happenings, while in part four, we see that Generation M is dedicated to changing the hijacked Muslim narrative and telling their own stories. They are global citizens and while there are disagreements and minority doctrines within the ummah, Generation M does not despair, they do their part within the community. Finally in part five, we get the full picture of Generation M. For them, Islam is a complete way of life. It’s about living a balanced life that affects the societal, financial, and political sectors. It’s not only about praying five times a day.
A few years ago, when I took a class on International Business as a requisite for my accounting degree, I learned that non-Muslim companies loved to package their products in green if they intend to sell them in Muslim countries especially the Middle East. When I learned that, being an African Muslim, it didn’t bother me at all. It made sense. Muslims love green. I didn’t even think, ‘Wait a minute, this can raise issues of profiling, unintended stereotyping, etc.’ After reading Generation M, I realize that young Muslims will not settle for this ready-made perception of them and it’s their right to want the finer things the world has to offer. There are other colours in the colouring clip board they find attractive. They don’t want just green, yellow or black. And this is to say that we are humans, just like non-Muslims, we aren’t that different from anybody, like many think, and we aren’t monolithic.
Generation M doesn’t chronicle all the building blocks of Generation M, but it certainly snaps an accurate picture of the composition of this generation. In this book, I came across many Muslims changing the world, some new and some I already knew of. Truly, Generation M is so diverse they can’t all fit in one book!
Above all, Generation M are very creative and crafty individuals masha Allah. They give new meanings to just about everything. The Muslim version of sushi was new to me… Start reading the book today to discover new Muslim inventions.
Generation M is available on Amazon and all major book sellers.
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Papatia Feauxzar is an accountant, an avid reader and writer living in Dallas, Texas with her nuclear family. She blogs at papatia.wordpress.com.