For the love of Islam

Mens ClothesWhilst many people start up business hoping that one day they will end up millionaires, one man would rather lose money as long as he’s doing what he loves.

Istiak Khan is the man behind Nation of Islam selling Islamic arts, ornaments books and clothing from his shop on Featherstall Road, Oldham.

But as long as the Istiak, a quranic hafiz, gets to spend a few hours reading the quran everyday, he says he’s happy.

“I didn’t set up the business because I thought I’d become rich overnight,” said Istiak.

“I did because I thought it was a good thing for the community to spread the love of Islam through my shop.

“As long as I get a few hours everyday to read the quran I’m a very happy man.”

Istiak, who also works at Barclays, set up Nation of Islam eight months ago. It is one of the very few Islamic gift shops in Oldham and as the interest in Islam is growing stronger with more a more people embracing the religion, so is the interest in his shop.

He said: “There is a growing number of people who are turning to their religion which was another reason why I thought this was an important thing to do for myself and others.

“I just get happy when people walk through the doors, whether they buy something or not.

“When someone comes into buy the quran I always give it as way for free as I believe the quran will open their minds – so why charge for it? I’d rather pay out of my own pockets!

“I once had an elderly couple walk past the shop. The man was partially blind but he smell of the incense from the shop drew him in. He walked in but he left with incense as a gift from me as the smell had put a smile on his face that day and that made me feel that I was doing something right.”

The 26-year-old feels his time at a madrassa in Bangladesh has helped him develop as a person and as a businessman many years later.

At the age of 11 he spent a few months at an Islamic school in the district of Comilla.

Not even a teenager yet, the madrassa helped build his confidence to face whatever came his way over the next couple of years.

He said: “The madrassa was on an island, it was almost like being in prison as we only had 15 minutes a day for our breaks and you couldn’t even leave if you wanted to. But that is where I also learnt about my religion and where I realised I wanted to become a quranic hafiz.

“When you’re that young in another country living in a school away from your parents you grow up very quickly and are equipped to face any adversities in the future. It was hard work but I am so glad that I spent that time there.”

Istiak returned to Oldham at the age of 13 but soon enrolled into the Bolton Islamic School at Bromley Cross and that is where he learnt to memorise the quran.

He said: “I always wanted to do this, and though it was hard work I was determined to learn. Reading and reciting was the easy part, but remembering the whole quran was difficult. But I did it and now my time at the shop helps me remember what I’ve learnt.”

As for the future, Istiak has other ambitions, which will even see him travel to China after Ramadan.

The Oldhamer wants to set up his own brand of clothing starting with jackets and will be in Far East sourcing out factories.

He said: “I want to have my own label one day and am already working on this. I want to start off with ladies and men’s quality jackets and all I can say right now is watch this space!”