Peace Be Upon You
Our Guiding Light
Allah will raise up to (suitable) ranks (and degrees) those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that remember (Allah's Message). 39:9
- 58:11 -
The Islamic Book Cafe
A Short History
The Islamic Book Cafe was originally called Ahdia Online Islamic Bookstore. Ahdia means unique which is what I was looking for, something unique in a bookstore. I was originally inspired to start an Islamic bookstore because of my fascination with the Muslim era in Spain and the great knowledge that was pursued. I was also fascinated with the the Library of Alexandria, in Egypt, and the Learning Center of Baghdad, Iraq. I was reading a lot, studying researching and desiring deep conversations that went beyond surface thinking. I was in search of like-minded individuals who were not caught up in the digital age that we are in today. I began to think no one reads anymore and found that I was wrong later on.
As I was moving forward with the company I ran into a problem. People did not know how to pronounce “Ahdia”. In e-commerce, I have learned that titles or the name of your company should be easy to pronounce and something to remember. If the name is hard to remember than people cannot easily tell others about your company and usually forgets about it. So I had to make a change and that was not easy to do being that I was working on this online store for a year now (2013 - 2014).
Changing the Name & Building a Brand
After realizing my company needed a new name, I began to brainstorm. I wanted it to be something that was fitting and all encompassing of what this online store represented and will be built into. While brainstorming, I was researching other online Islamic bookstores to see what they offered and how I can be a bit different. I did not want to just sale books because that only offers only a small benefit. I wanted something bigger and more intellectual. I wanted to recreate Cordoba, Spain (Al-Andalusia). I was inspired by the dialogue and advancement of knowledge. The peace among the three Abrahamic faiths that lasted a great while was very intriguing as well being that today there is only strife. I couldn't get away from the digital world, so I'm using it to build in a beneficial way. To create an online platform that will bring out community, creativity and consciousness.
People can be very inspiring when sharing their experiences and when opening up their hearts and minds to the understanding of Al-Islam and the world around us. So the platform I wanted to incorporate within the business is a blog. A blog is a perfect way to have engagement online. A place where we can discuss the books we've read, world events, and personal experiences. It is a place where we can feel safe to speak freely, be free from sectarianism and judgement. A place where people who live far from the Muslim community can be connected and share his or her voice. All of this online activity is a precursor to the brick-and-mortar of this online bookstore.
I want a place where Muslims can hang out, a place that is halal. I want a place where non-Muslims can feel invited in a comfortable environment. Though I want a place where people can enjoy tea, coffee and food, I did not want that to be the focus. The focus would, Insha Allah, be the food of the soul, knowledge. So I decided on the perfect name that captured my entire vision. After much thought I decided to call my online Islamic bookstore, “The Islamic Book Cafe”. It is a play on the word Cafe which is a small restaurant where you can grab some food and coffee. But the real meal at The Islamic Book Cafe comes from the books that we offer, the dialogue that we engage in and the community that will grow with the interactions.
To build the brand, I would need more ideas. You see, I am an introvert, I can research, come up with all kind of ideas, but when it comes to networking so I can expand my thinking and further the company, it just would not happen. I approached my dear brother and best friend who loves to talk and meet people to see if he would like to join me on this venture. Alhamdulillah, he agreed. I brought Cameron Andrews on board as co-owner and public relations manager in order to help build engagement. Later on my wife, Sophia Kinhnarath joined the team as the co-owner, marketing manager and social media manager. These two people brought fresh ideas to the table to help modernize the company and give it a clear direction.
What is in Store For The Future
Our goal is to give people a reason to read again. When I say read I mean read deeply, think deeply, and research the things they are reading. We want to offer a platform for people to inspire and encourage one another and we want to do this online and offline. The ultimate goal is to build a brick-and-mortar store, insha Allah, here in Portland, Oregon.
The goal is to spread and build knowledge, improve self and communities through intellectual understanding.
I personally thank you all for being interested in The Islamic Book Cafe, and I pray we can all benefit from one another. I invite you to give feedback about the company, reviews on your purchases, and for you to even become guest or regular guest bloggers. May Allah bless our efforts and guide us towards all that is pleasing to Him. Ameen Abdul Kareem Saiyyid Slade Founder / Co-Owner / CEO
Abdul Kareem Slade
Co-Owner/Public Relations Manager
" And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith. (181) "
" And We have not sent you (O Muhammad SAW) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, but most of men know not. (28) "
" And they will say: Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire! (10) "
" Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islâmic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter). (97) "