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Written by: Hamzah Moin
NEW YORK – The world’s fastest-growing cell phone provider aimed specifically to the Muslim population is now the second largest cell phone provider in the entire world. “This is the beginning of something extraordinary” said Naureen Shah, CEO of Muslim Mobile. “We are constantly getting so many people switching their services to Muslim Mobile that it’s hard to keep up.”
Muslim Mobile launched a little over 14 years ago to improve the quality of cell phone services. “Before we felt people were using their cell phones in a lacklustre manner and the quality was terrible” said Shah. “It was as if their messages weren’t getting through”
The provider boasts clear call quality and neat packages like free call display and plenty of daytime talking minutes. It also has unlimited Muslim-to-Muslim talking minutes and an emergency Imam hotline. Pervez Akram, a 38-year old Pakistani Muslim Mobile user loves the emergency hotline feature. “Sometimes when I’m lonely I’ll call up the emergency Imam hotline and usually some Imam keeps me company. He tells me fiqh jokes. I love Imams.”
Other users enjoy a feature that many Muslims grew to love: the fact that it’s not being overheard or tapped by government employees. “I found that extremely annoying when I was with other cell phone companies” says Farhana Sheikh, a frequent cell phone user from the United Kingdom. “It’s not like I have anything to hide… I don’t. It’s just that one time a random guy who was tapping my phone line started to intrude on the conversation and offered tips when I was giving my friend some recipes for Halal Rice Krisipie squares. His tips were good but I found it annoying to hear his heavy breathing all the time.”
Although Muslim Mobile continues to expand and now has a user base of over 1.4 million users, it still continues to get its share of criticism. Muhammad Nasruddin of Egypt doesn’t like some of the “hidden” disadvantages of the service. “What they don’t tell you in those fancy ads is that Muslim Mobile has one of the worst dropped call rates than any other cell phone network” said an unhappy Nasruddin. “They have this feature where if you say one swear word during the call it automatically disconnects” Nasruddin found this feature troublesome, as he is the number one pitcher on Egypt’s national baseball team and he has trouble pronouncing the name of his own position. “Okay, so I can’t pronounce the letter ‘P’. Big deal. I’m not swearing I swear.”
Muslim Mobile also features free daytime minute swapping between users who backbite about one another. “I lost 300 free minutes last month because I couldn’t stop talking trash about this guy from my school” said an anonymous user. “And apparently he now has 300 additional minutes thanks to me! Ugh! I hate him so much LOL!” Muslim Mobile also has an anti-gossip alert where if gossip is being spread in a conversation it automatically starts beeping rapidly, deafening the people on the line.
The company might have some complainers but it was able to successfully rebound after a smear campaign by rival cell phone companies. Seven years ago, a small group of fanatical users of Muslim Mobile destroyed two major telecommunication towers of a rival company, causing widespread panic and backlash against Muslim Mobile. Rather than losing customers, Muslim Mobile actually increased its growth rate even after the heinous fanatical attacks on the towers. “We turned lemons into lemonade. Sweet, delicious lemonade.” says CEO Shah.
“People need to stop talking smack about us,” she continues “because Muslim Mobile is here to stay for a very long time. The long distance package is great.”