Muzbnb: the prejudice-free future of Muslim travel

By Kitty Knowles 31 January 2017
image: muzbnb

Are you looking for an apartment with a prayer space? Near a mosque? Or halal restaurants? Muzbnb makes it easy.

This week the world is reeling from Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ – an order to bar the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Sadly, the President’s ignorance is not unique to him: every day people continue to be persecuted on the basis of their appearance or religion.

This climate of hostility towards non-Christian and non-white ethnic groups has been abhorrently clear on the worlds biggest travel app Airbnb.

Despite the platforms late efforts to tackle racism, the travel app has failed to protect users from discrimination.

That’s why Stefan Grant just launched Noirbnb, an app that promotes inclusive, safe travel for the black community.

And why today, there’s another new player on the field: Muzbnb.

Meet Hadi Shakuur

Hadi Shakuur is the CEO of Muzbnb – a faith-based homestay network started by a group of entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C.

“Our goal is simple,” Shakuur told The Memo. “To encourage travel, adventure, and the building of a global community where Muslims feel comfortable and accepted while traveling.”

“Muzbnb allows Muslims the ability to host and book homes that are accommodating to their Islamic needs for leisure or business travel anywhere in the world.”

A safe space

In an ideal world there wouldn’t need to be new niche apps dedicated to creating spaces where people feel comfortable, but this is not the world we live in.

Today, minorities are understandably refusing to continue to be treated like second-class citizens any more.

“We hope we will alleviate the undue discrimination Muslims have faced when traveling, to allow Muslims to travel and explore freely,” says Shakuur.

“These are trying times for Muslims in the US and abroad, and this company can serve as a beacon of light and hope that we are still here, still creating, still thinking about the sanctity of faith – not just ours, but faith in general.”

How Muzbnb works

Like Airbnb, the Muzbnb platform is simple: you can list a home or you can rent a home.

And, in a similar way to Noirbnb (where you do not have to be black), you don’t have to be a Muslim to sign up.

“Muzbnb isn’t just limited to Muslims, but for all those who support Islamic values,” explains Shakuur.

“Unfortunately we live in a time where Muslims are under extra scrutiny: this is why there is a need to create safe spaces globally.”

With this in mind, Shakuur is focusing on rolling the service out within the Muslim community before broadening it in the future.

A tailored experience

One big advantage of travelling with Muzbnb, is the whole experience can be carefully tailored to religious needs.

“Muslims have particular things to consider when traveling, like where to offer prayer, where to find Halal food, and where to find religiously acceptable activities,” explains Shakuur.

(Even the most accommodating non-Muslim host might struggle to be helpful with such matters).

In addition to this, search filters can highlight homes that are close to Mosques, stocked with Qurans or Islamic literature, equipped with dedicated prayer spaces, or that are alcohol or drug-free.

“Guests can also expect to experience a non-Islamophobic stay — feeling completely welcome from check-in to check-out.”

Big business dreams

It’s already become apparent that there is an appetite for Muzbnb.

Within just one month of soft launch and no paid marketing, the platform has received over 1,000 sign-ups for listings and rentals.

Shakuur aims to add an additional 1,000-2,000 homes listed every year, and has also received interest regarding potential seed funding.

“We also hope to be the first company run by Muslims for Muslims to reach unicorn status ($1bn valuation) in the US.”

“A sanctuary for all faiths to be welcomed as they explore and travel the world.”

Right now, a sanctuary has never been more needed.