LEICESTER - Countering negative images about Islam, a University of Leicester's undergraduate Muslim student has launched a successful student's clothing business that spreads positive messages about his faith around the world.
People have a lot of misconceptions about Islam, Umair Khan, an undergraduate medicine student, told University of Leicester Press Office on Friday, November 9.
News channels frequently feature negative stories about Muslims - which don't reflect the true picture of the Muslim community at large.
This is a way of doing something about it, he added.
Umair started the Leicester-based business, Design Molvi, to counter negative images about the religion and challenge stereotypes about Muslims worldwide.
T-shirt slogans include Terrorism Hijacked My Religion, I'm a Tourist, Not a Terrorist, and Save Your Neighborhood - Say No to Rioting.
Other t-shirts include Islam: 0% APR in reference to the interest-free ideology of Islamic banking, Keep Calm and Avoid Haraam and Islam: Over 1.5 billion people like this in homage to Facebook's Like counter.
The shirts are helping us have conversations with people, Umair said.
We get messages from our customers who tell us about the conversations they have had with people who have seen their Design Molvi t-shirts. A non-Muslim may ask them about what their shirt means, and they have had the chance to explain the message.
The name Molvi refers to religious instructors and teachers in many Muslim countries.
The project was started with a subsidy from the Enterprise Inc project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The project entitles students or recent graduates looking to start a business in the East Midlands to £2,500 in funding and business start-up training and support.
Since then, the business has clocked up more than 190,000 likes on Facebook and more than 125,000 unique visitors to its website in just over a year.
Customers have placed orders from Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Australia, Canada and elsewhere in Europe.
The Enterprise Inc project was definitely a help and I would recommend that any finalist and graduates apply to the project. It was really helpful to get the funding and motivation from the business workshops and coaching, Umair said.
Professors at Leicester's university praised the project for facing rising Islamophobic hate crime towards Muslims.
Design Molvi is a very innovative way to tackle Islamophobia, it is a very effective means of challenging people's misconceptions of Islam whilst, at the same time, raising awareness about the problem of Islamophobia in the West, Irene Zempi, a tutor at the University of Leicester's Department of Criminology, said.
It is refreshing and encouraging to see students addressing anti-Muslim prejudice in such an intelligent manner.
This idea is inspiring and hopefully it will contribute into dispelling myths surrounding Islam and Muslims, she added.
Earlier in May 2012, Zempi warned of rising hostility against Muslim women in UK, referring to a direct link between the banning of the veil in France and increased levels of anti-Muslim discrimination.
Leicester researchers from the Department of Criminology added that the veil ban stigmatizes veiled Muslim women as criminals' and fosters Muslim otherness'.
Although Umair plans to pursue a career in medicine once he finishes his degree, he is keen to keep going with Design Molvi in his own time.
He also plans to expand the number of products further, including mobile phone covers and accessories.
Other members of the team have seen people in the street wearing Design Molvi t-shirts, he said.
It hasn't happened to me yet, but I hope it does - it would be a good way to go up to them and talk to them.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.0 million.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net