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Selma Cook


Abdullah Zein Al AbdinAbdullah Zein Al Abdin is the chairman of IWAAN – business and lifestyle club elite. Launched on June 12, 2008 at the House of Lords in London, Iwaan aims at forming a financial lobby. Its main objectives are to celebrate the financial achievement of Muslims, by providing exclusive service, and promoting products and business opportunities. It also seeks to set good models for youth informing them how people have achieved success, and guiding them to turn their dreams into reality. Iwaan also aims at improving the image of the Muslim community. Al Abdin remarked, “We have achieved our first target and have turned between 3-5 million pounds this year despite the recession.”


Al Abdin was born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Syrian parents. Later he traveled to Kuwait, and then to the UK, where he gained a wealth of information as he experienced a new life living in a multicultural society. “Here, in the UK, there are no cultural or religious barriers between people. I found that this is the way to turn your dreams into a reality,” said Al Abdin. 


When launching Iwaan, Al Abdin wanted to do something special; he certainly did not want to compromise. “We have something good to show; something at the heart of British life. When I put forward the idea of launching at the House of Lords, the lords were happy about that. Two of them are Muslims. So far, we’ve had three events at the House of Lords,” said Al Abdin. This comes after 20 years of networking, building bridges, interacting and working with Muslims in the UK and abroad, as well as setting up gigantic projects that contribute to the development of society.


Coming from a society where everyone is categorized, Al Abdin found that in the UK Muslims are living in a multi-cultural society and that it is possible to be friends with people from all walks of life. He commented, “What brings people together is their common beliefs and goals for themselves and their society. This is healthier and has enhanced our life experience. Dealing with non-Muslims has been a healthy experience.” At first, Al Abdin thought he might be coming to a racist society but the opposite was true. He discovered that Muslims constitute 10% of the UK, with more than 150 Islamic schools. “There are 2 million Muslims in the UK and here we are more privileged compared to Muslim communities in the rest of Europe. Muslims and non-Muslims can come together on a common goal to do something good. We have to put aside anything negative that the media says about us because the picture is really quite different,” said Al Abdin.


Al Abdin is talking about 2 million Muslims who live in every part of British life. In terms of banking, London in the capital city of Islamic finance; and in terms of education, the first Muslim school was started by Yusuf Islam and Muslim schools are known to achieve the highest standards of education. There are 30,000 Muslim millionaires in the UK contributing 35 billion pounds to the British economy. “This is a factor that simply can not be ignored,” said Al Abdin.

Al Abdin has a long history of community work and development. He started a school in the Emirates called the School of Creative Science and was involved in the East London Academy, which was opened by Prince Charles. Property business has been his hobby for a long time. He has also been involved in the media and has his own media company ‘Iwaan media’. Discussions are underway with the Islamic Bank of Britain to sponsor this and move it forward. Through utilizing media outlets Iwaan has already been in contact with most channels including, Hiwar TV, Islam Channel, and the Jazeera network. “We are now working on documentaries and profiling Muslim businesses one by one. We are launching Iwaan TV on SKY and will highlight Muslim businesses in the UK.”  Iwaan TV will profile businesses; how they started, and will also televise life style shows. Al Abdin added that spending wealth is also an art, and he noted that Iwaan helps people to work out their zakat and pay it.


Al Abdin is also a contributor to the Young Muslims Organization that is a wing of the Islamic Forum in Europe, in East London Mosque. He teaches youth there, and is considered a leader of dawah. “We take on board those who have moved forward and have a Platinum service for the wealthy,” said Al Abdin.


Iwaan currently focuses on two aspects; in a personal capacity, Al Abdin is a regular speaker on Islamic channels and in Islamic centers, and tries to always focus on women and their rights as opposed to tradition. The other aspect is his work with young Muslims, attracting new graduates and Muslims who are willing to turn ideas into reality. This is done at events where they learn about Islam and wealth and have the chance to meet successful millionaires face to face. They meet consultants who answer their questions about how to set up a company, open a business and open an account at the Islamic bank of Britain. Al Abdin said, “Young people walk out of the event the director of a company!”


Iwaan Women


Joweriah Saeed is the managing director of Iwaan Women. She wants to target Muslim women who have businesses with the aim of providing events for the practical maintenance of body, mind and soul. It is only 5 months since Iwaan Woman was launched but so far, they have had two events. One of them was held at the London Hilton where they gathered Muslim mothers, Saudi women associations, and Muslim women networks from east London. Iwaan Women is interested in self-development; how women should be looking after themselves in every aspect of life. Saeed seeks to develop Muslim women in their personal life and business enterprises and to provide a platform for Muslim women to come together and exchange ideas, meet clients, and promote themselves and their businesses. There are many professional Muslim women in the UK; many life coaches, doctors, and so on, who benefit each other. Although it started in London, Iwaan Women will eventually go abroad. Saeed has been approached by Saudi women who loved the idea and want her to go to Saudi and do an event for them. Saeed noted, “Iwaan Women events discuss a broad range of Islamic issues in an interactive and fun way.”


Iwaan Women is a new and very important part of Iwaan. Al Abdin remarked that it seeks to put a stop to just talking about dawah and turn it into practice. “It is a form of Islamic life coaching; seeking a happy healthy life. We seek to develop and empower women. The sky is the limit in terms of development,” said Al Abdin.


Iwaan Women promotes women’s scholarship and involvement and they learn something good for themselves, their family and their society. Al Abdin said, “The methodology of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) addressed society’s needs. What is practical in dawah in the UK is different to that in Saudi. I like to focus on the fiqh of reality; time and place. Some Muslims today will say that women can be scholars but not a community worker down the road! There are many challenges here in the UK and we should not be focusing on trivial matters. It should be all hands on deck!”

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