Muslim Run Campaign for Health, Wellness and Healing

Background

  • The Muslim Run campaign addresses a long history of injurious and unfair business practices, escalating racial tensions, and unhealthy food options at inner-city corner stores.
  • Since its launch in 2007, Muslim Run has grown to focus on four critical parts:
    1. Developing alternative business models for Muslim-run business on Chicago’s South Side
    2. Using public policy to promote lasting change toward food justice
    3. Launching an education campaign that stresses the benefits of leading healthier lifestyles
    4. Healing Racial tensions between Muslim store owners and their Black patrons.
  1. Alternative Business Model
    • We believe that small businesses, once the engine of America’s economy, are quickly diminishing.
    • Reviving small businesses can be an alternative to the currently popular solution of attracting “discount stores” back to low-income communities they had abandoned in the past.
    • Small, locally-owned businesses can:
      • Provide a viable solution to the “food desert” crisis ravaging low-income communities
      • Act as economic engines of community development
      • Return control over their economy back to local neighborhoods.
  2. Lasting Policy Change
    • Small businesses owners will face increasing challenges from discount and mega-stores moving in.
    • We seek policy initiatives to make small businesses viable competitors in the changing economy.
    • These innovative solutions include grants and microloans for local corner stores to stock fresh foods.
    • The goal is to give small business the chance to “do right” and “make money” at the same time.
    • Small businesses support would be a more effective use of public money than corporate largesse.
  3. Education Campaign
    • We understand that changing store owner practices is useless without altering residents’ desires.
    • Accordingly, our education campaign’s curriculum will reintroduce ideas of healthy eating and living.
    • We will present principles and programs of healthy living to community residents and store owners by using pamphlets, flyers, posters, songs and videos distributed through corner stores.
  4. Racial Healing
    • The food and liquor stores are commonly found in largely Black and low-income neighborhoods.
    • These stores are most often owned by Arab immigrants, a large portion of them Muslim.
    • Tensions between these immigrant store owners and surrounding Black residents are well-known.
    • Since the 1990s these tensions have become increasingly common and dangerous.
    • As a Muslim organization located in a low-income neighborhood, IMAN understands the marginalization on both sides.
    • We believe that working toward a solution to the food desert crisis, IMAN can also seize the opportunity for healing and building relationships between Arab store owners and Black residents.

An Example from the Life of Muhammad
A man brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) some wine as a gift. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You don’t know that Allah has forbidden it?” The man then spoke to someone in a whisper. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him: “what did you say to him?” The man replied, “I have asked him to sell it.” The Messenger of Allah told him that Allah who has forbidden its drinking, has forbidden its buying and selling as well.

Media
Solidarity at the Liquor Store?
IMAN’s Muslim Run was featured in the national magazine on race and politics, Colorlines, produced by the Applied Research Center. The article explores immigrant-owned and run businesses in Black Neighborhoods. Download it here

Muslim liquor store owners get help with moral dilemma
A Muslim group is offering a grant to help store owners sell fresh foods instead of liquor, pork and other Islam-proscribed merchandise. Read it here

Fighting the Food Justice Fight, One Veggie at a Time
America’s inner cities are virtual food deserts, with nary a grocery store to be found. How one Chicago coalition is trying to change all that.