As a pharmacist in the Detroit area, Sam Alawieh, was baffled by a question a patient asked him about the vitamins she was about to take.
“She asked me, does this have anything that’s not halal in it?,” Alawieh said.
“I told her, ‘ honestly, I don’t know’.”
Alawieh then began a search into the matter. He discovered that the majority of vitamins in the market were not “halal” as most of them had pork derivatives, such as the gelatin used in capsules or in gummy vitamins.
“That threw me way back, so I thought, now what? how do we give patients the option to be healthy and be halal at the same time?” Alawieh said.
Through his Michigan based pharmaceutical lab “Rxtra” he set out to create a line of “halal” vitamins that contain no animal by-products and is in the process of obtaining a “halal” certification for them. He currently sells them in an Arab American supermarket in Dearborn and is in the process of setting up a website to take orders.
While there is nothing new about vegetarian vitamins, Alwaieh’s niche line is reflective of a growing understanding of the purchasing power of American Muslims.
“People in the Muslim community have been overlooked, and we want to change that” says Alawieh.
Muslim American organizations, like the Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, say there are about seven million Muslims in the united States.
“Their income is higher than the national average end they have a larger numbers of professionals as heads of households,” CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper said.
The New York based Center for American Muslims Research estimates that the annual purchasing power of U.S. Muslims is about $12 billion.
Alawieh’s line offers vitamins created specifically to cater to challenges that affect the community. “Dow” is a vitamin D supplement marketed to women who wear the hijab or niqab and don’t get enough sun exposure.
A picture of a smiling woman wearing the hijab is on the marketing posters for “Dow,” and Alaweih says he wants the community to be the face of his vitamins.
“We want people to know that you, as a Muslim, are being acknowledged” he adds.