Posted on April 10, 2008

Inn Keeping With Changing Needs

Ruhubia Akbor, Oldham Advertiser (London), April 9, 2008

A SWIFT drink down the local has taken on a new twist—at what is thought to be the country’s first Islamic ‘pub’.

Reminiscent of the 19th century temperance bars, the Halal Inn, on Featherstall Road, is a public house which has most of the trappings of a traditional British hostelry, but is missing what many would think is the key ingredient—alcohol!

Owner Azizur Rahman and business partner Muzahid Khan spotted a gap in the market and came up with the idea to provide an alternative social gathering place for local Muslims.

Mr Khan explained: “It’s a gathering place for people who abide by strict Islamic rulings and don’t like going to places where they serve alcohol.

“What we’ve done is turn the bar into a soft drink and juice bar, with snooker tables, darts, karam boards and nasheeds (Islamic songs) in the background.

“As a non-alcoholic venue it will appeal to Muslims more, but it is essentially for people from all backgrounds.”

The building, formerly the Westwood Inn, also includes a restaurant serving daily specials, a prayer room, study room, business lounge and steam room.

The drinking hole with a difference opened its doors in December and has been growing in popularity.

“Halal Inn is a name which most people find intriguing,” said Mr Khan. “There was a lot of conversations in the community about the whole concept and a lot of people were wanting to know more about it. We got a lot of word of mouth publicity and have even had visits from people from Birmingham and London wanting information on recreating the brand.

“It’s an alternative to your normal inn—a pub essentially means a place where people procure alcohol, but that’s what we’re trying to get away from.

“Throughout the world there has been a whole movement about the word halal and products that are branded as halal. Muslims are a major consumer group.

“Because of all this going on we thought that in Oldham we should have a brand of our own. It was easy to replace the word Westwood with Halal. It makes perfect sense.”

The venue, which opens from 4.30pm to 11.30pm, will also host a monthly Islamic quiz night and has created a snooker and karam league.