New Yorkers Fahad Tirmizi of WuduGear and Dr. Mohamed Issa of NoorVitamins serve the ummah with their unique and innovative business endeavors, benefiting the lives of Muslims everywhere.
While on his cellphone store showroom floor catering to customers, Long Island native Fahad Tirmizi found himself having to answer another call—his daily prayers.
He excused himself from the floor, punched in the code on the lock, and made his way through the Employees Only door to begin his routine.
It went like this: go to office, remove socks, remove shoes, wear flip flops, walk to bathroom, make wudu, put foot in sink, go back to office, dry feet—and finally—pray. The post prayer routine consisted of ensuring his feet were absolutely dry before wearing his socks and shoes and returning to the sales floor.
This is a struggle many Muslims face in the workplace. Aside from the awkward encounter that ensues when a non-Muslim sees a Muslim with a foot in the sink, the entire process of only preparing for the prayer can be quite time consuming.
Tirmizi came across potential solutions, but they all fell short. When he finally developed a sock that was lighter, more affordable, and more comfortable than its counterparts while still meeting Shariah requirements for masah (wiping over), he knew he found his answer.
“I thought it was the most useful thing in the world,” Tirmizi says.
This sock works on two technologies. The first is a waterproof layer that, despite its impermeability, is still breathable. This material is then flanked by a comfortable inner material against the skin and a durable outer material that withstands the elements. The second technology, a patented lamination, seamlessly combines all three layers to create a waterproof sock that can be wiped over instead of removed when performing wudu.
“We did a lot of the legwork on our own, talking to scholars about what the requirements are and making sure quality wasn’t sacrificed by meeting those criteria,” Tirmizi says. “We also didn’t want to sacrifice comfort.”
After consulting one of his teachers about possibly expanding the endeavor to beyond family and friends, Tirmizi received a green light. WuduGear.com officially launched.
With his team made up of his wife, brother Samad, and others, Tirmizi opens shop at Muslim conventions around North America explaining to consumers why scholars are unanimous that wiping over regular thin socks is impermissible and how WuduGear’s Shariah compliant waterproof socks help revive the sunnah of masah.
At one ISNA convention, a man came up to Tirmizi and offered feedback. He had many pins in his foot due to a surgery and experienced difficulty removing his socks for wudu.
“[The man] said, ‘You have no idea how much you helped me!’” Tirmizi recalls. “He thought our product especially helped him from some suffering, and he actually gave me a hug.”
It’s moments like this that Tirmizi considers especially fulfilling—interacting with so many Muslims and knowing he can leave an impact on their lives.
“I would attribute our success to two main things,” Tirmizi says. “1) The help of Allah and duas of scholars, and 2) the sincere intention when we started the company of what we were trying to achieve. We simply wanted to make wudu easier.”
When New York based pharmacist Dr. Mohamed Issa and his fellow Muslim health professionals looked for halal vitamins to recommend to their same-faith patients, they realized the options were few and far between.
“Almost nine times out of ten, we found many of the ingredients were sourced from pork and/or alcohol,” Dr. Issa says. “They obviously weren’t permissible from a halal standard.”
This predicament turned into an opportunity for Dr. Issa, who in 2010, decided with his colleagues to formulate a halal alternative to major brand supplements. NoorVitamins thus launched with four products: multivitamin, prenatal, children’s chewable, and calcium with vitamin D.
Dr. Issa, the chief executive officer of Noor Pharmaceuticals (which makes NoorVitamins), says Muslims who regularly took supplements appreciated the new option. However, there were skeptics who witnessed too many Muslim companies come and go.
Fast forward eight years, and NoorVitamins is still around—with a presence that is stronger now than ever before.
“We now are the No. 1 halal vitamin brand worldwide,” Dr. Issa says, with his products lining the shelves in multiple countries. “But more importantly, [approximately] thirty to forty percent of our customers are not Muslim. They buy our brand because of its high quality nature.”
NoorVitamins expanded its line of products over the years to thirteen and counting, six of which are patented and trademarked, so they cannot be replicated by any competitor. Each of the products contains ingredients only from all-natural sources and is manufactured in NoorVitamins’ own FDA-approved facilities.
“Everything from the ingredient sources to the manufacturing and packaging process and the formulation development [we do] ourselves,” says Dr. Issa.
The executive team’s involvement guarantees the high quality nature NoorVitamins prides itself on, and at the same time, Dr. Issa says it requires much persistence, consistency, and commitment.
“With every challenge, there’s an opportunity to elevate expectations of ourselves and our priorities,” he says.
One such priority is giving back. In Ramadan, the company runs a campaign called #NoorishTheHungry, in which it donates a meal to the needy for each bottle purchased.
“Every time we try to give, Allah blesses us with more,” Dr. Issa says. “We really believe the more you give, the more you get.”
NoorVitamins runs in an Islamically compliant way, from steering clear of interest to ensuring the products sold deliver what they promise. All this contributes to the “real value” Dr. Issa says his company placed at its core. He defines this “real value” as presenting consumers with a product that is the best of its kind, that also meets halal standards Muslim consumers look for. This is in contrast to what Dr. Issa calls “affinity value,” in which a business relies on followers of the faith to buy something simply because it’s coming from a Muslim company.
For Dr. Mohamed Issa, what began as a project to satisfy the needs of his Muslim community successfully expanded into a business benefiting people of all backgrounds.
A version of this article was published in the March/April 2018 issue of Islamic Horizons.