Fair Trade Clothing Commerce and Haute Hijab

 

 

Recently, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf delivered a speech at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference in Toronto, Canada entitled, "Fair Trade Commerce for a Better World." His lecture inspired this article and we felt it necessary to share this information not only as an apparel company but as fellow Muslims who seek justice and equality. Unfair trade extends far beyond products such as coffee, diamond and chocolate. One of the largest industries guilty of exploitation is the fashion industry.

Think about it. How is it possible to find a top that costs less than $20 from H&M and Forever 21? Through the use of cheap labor from third world poverty stricken countries. Although one may revel in such a great bargain, we must keep in mind that it contributes to women and children's exposure to dangerous working environments for inhumane periods of time. While we have all been spoiled by low-cost outsourced products, it must be understood that one’s happiness and pleasure in a bargain is costing blood and turmoil to millions across the globe.

Instead of having a closet full of clothes made from child exploitation, why not purchase fewer items of clothing at a higher price knowing everyone involved in manufacturing the item had a fair share. There is tremendous baraka, or blessing, in purchasing and wearing clothing knowing it was made by someone who was happy and justly compensated when manufacturing the item. This baraka of your fair trade item passes on to having baraka in your overall life. The opposite is also true which may contribute to a lack of baraka in your life. Scholars and people of righteousness have always been fastidious regarding the sources of items they purchase. 

What is Fair Trade?

According to Fairtrade International, fair trade is, “A trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”

Benefits of Fair Trade 

  • Helps producers improve quality of life with education, healthcare & processing facilities.
  • Allows producers to take part in the decision making that involves their future.
  • Empowers workers to participate in global trade without worrying about financial security.
  • Encourages production that is environmentally sustainable and organic.

What does Islam say about Fair Trade?

In Surah Al-Bakarah, Allah (S) says, “Do not consume the wealth of people unjustly....let your trade only be trade that is mutually content.” This is explained as meaning that each side of the trade should be content with the event of commerce and the event that transpired. This verse is central to understanding what is occurring globally and why we see turmoil in the markets. Furthermore, Allah (S) states in Surah Al-Rahman, "He places a balance or scale so that you not transgress the balance." This ayah refers to all types of balance in life including an economic balance. 

The Prophet Muhammad (S) was himself involved in business and it was through his business dealings he earned the title of As-Sadiq and Al-Ameen, the truthful and the trustworthy. He (S) taught us principles of commerce and mentions in a hadith, "The truthful merchant is with the martyrs on the Day of Judgment." Scholars have commented that the reason for this is the rarity of a truthful merchant. We as a community should emulate this prophetic character through ethical business dealings.

 

How is Fair Trade related to Haute Hijab?

At Haute Hijab we pride ourselves in selling socially and environmentally friendly products. Not only do we support local fabric suppliers, vendors, seamstresses and manufacturers, we ensure that each person working along the way to create these products receives their fair share. 

What can we do? 

USE CASH: Try to pay in cash as often as you can. This ensures 100% of the money you pay goes to the local business as opposed to 4% going to the bank each time you use a credit card. Try to support local banks by moving your money. Check out www.moveyourmoneyproject.org for more information.

SHOP LOCAL: Try to shop local whenever possible. This helps boost the economy of your surrounding community. Farmers markets are a wonderful way to begin and are popular across the country. Unfortunately, many smaller business are losing money due to larger corporations taking over.

RESEARCH: Before purchasing anything do your research to ensure the product you're buying is not costing any lives. A wonderful app you can download is, “Better World Shopper.” It gives a fair trade grade to over 1,000 companies including airlines, gas stations, grocery stores, and popular retail brands.

SUPPORT: The reality is, companies that adhere to fair trade principles are aberrant and pricey to run. Therefore, it is imperative to support companies who believe and sell based on these principles. 

Final Thoughts

As Americans we live in a society where we are indifferent to people who are hurting outside our country. This apathetic attitude lends to a lifestyle that is based on the suffering of others. In reality, the roots of our “cheap lifestyle” is based on exploitative labor all over the world. Let us not forget this also affects the job market here at home as manufacturing migrates to countries where cheap labor and exploitation are prevalent.

References

"About Fairtrade / Benefits of Fairtrade." Fairtrade International (FLO). Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.fairtrade.net/benefits_of_fairtrade.html>.

"Who Benefits from Fair Trade? - Fair Trade Wholesale - Handmade Expressions." Fair Trade Wholesale - Handmade Bags, Leather Journals, Jewelry - Handmade Expressions. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.handmadeexpressions.net/pages/who-benefits-from-fair-trade>.

Yusuf, Hamza. "Fair Trade Commerce for a Better World." Lecture. Reviving the Islamic Spirit. Canada, Toronto. 20 Jan. 2012. Halal Tube. Halal Tube, 29 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.halaltube.com/hamza-yusuf-sharing-success-fair-trade-commerce-for-a-better-world>.

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