LITTLE PAKISTAN – Farhad Muhammad is a young brown man in Brooklyn who has wanted to give back for as long as he could remember. He believes every person has their own way of doing so. This 22-year-old gives back through fashion. Meet Modern Ummah.
Ummah is an Arabic word that translates to ‘community.’ More deeply, it refers to everybody as being one, Muhammad explained.
Muhammad always knew he loved fashion. He was always following brands like Balenciaga or A Bathing Ape. So, in the summer of 2015, he launched his own. But there was one catch. As part of his brand, 50% of the proceeds would go directly to charities. That would be his way of giving back to the ummah doing something he loves.
“I learned in a sense that yeah, Alhamdullilah I have it good, but not everyone does,” he said. “I might wish for things, but the things I have, people are wishing for themselves. So if I could do something to help them, why not?”
Muhammad is just 22 and still in college, currently studying Economics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He will be transferring to Brooklyn College to study Finance. Why finance? It’s all about learning the movement of money, he explained.
“If I know how money flows through the financial industry, I’ll be able to manage that money more efficiently,” he said. It’s something that would help him in life and in his business.
Muhammad was born in Brooklyn. When he was around five-years-old, he moved to the United Kingdom and lived there for about four years before moving back to the borough he loves dearly. When asked to compare the two, he said both were meant for different types of lives.
“If I want something more relaxed, in which I could just work a regular nine to five job, still have a social life, and bonding time with my future wife, then I’ll prefer the UK,” he said. “If I always want to be on my feet, then it’s NY.”
Through it all, the one thing that stayed constant was his faith. Muhammad is a young Muslim man who explained that Islam gives him guidance and teaches him how to direct himself. His faith is what motivated him to give back.
“My religion taught me it’s always better to do something for someone else and not letting anyone else know you’re doing it,” he said. “One of the hadiths (ways of the Prophet) of Prophet Muhammad PBUH was to give charity from your right hand, so your left-hand doesn’t even know. People who are wearing my hoodie might not even know that purchase helped feed three or four people.”
Muhammad gives back to various charities including Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Aid, the Janazah Project, and Muslims Giving Back. The money from the proceeds is often split between the various charities. “The more consistent I am with releases, the more I am able to raise, the more people get help,” he said. His next release is on October 1st and he’s very excited.
As much as his faith has played a part in his life and business, so has his family. To Muhammad, family means everything. His family comes from Mirpur, Pakistan and he explained that he has a lot of relatives in Brooklyn. Much of the work on his brand, such as packaging and sewing tags, gets done at home alongside his family.
“My family is literally why I keep going. Especially my little brother. My little brother is my pride and joy,” he said.
After graduation, he wants to work at a bank job that doesn’t take up all of his time. He’d want to focus on Modern Ummah because he wants to continue helping everybody, he said. One day in the future, Muhammad wants to open a Modern Ummah company for a non-profit. He also plans on opening a community center in the neighborhood where young people can come for advice, opportunities, and to relax.
“Me making it to the point where I am today, I never saw myself four years ago, getting as widespread, helping as many people as I have,” he said. “For me, how would I know I made it? I would just throw this number out there; when I could say I helped a million people. That’s how I’d know I made it.”