The Halal Inn, Britain's first Islamic pub, has opened in Oldham, Greater Manchester....

Welcome to the Halal Inn: Britain's first alcohol-free Islamic pub

11th April 2008
Daily Mail

The town of Oldham, Greater Manchester, is the home of the Halal Inn, Britain's first Islamic pub

There are bar snacks, quiz nights, snooker tables and blaring music.

But if you fancy a beer you've come to the wrong pub.

The Halal Inn is open for non-alcoholic business only.

The country's first Islamic pub opened last December in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and although trade is not exactly roaring, it is purring along.

Cheers: The Halal Inn's owner, Azizur Rahman, left, with busness partner Muzahid Khan

Behind the bar, there are fizzy drinks and fruit juices, including non-alcoholic spritzers and buck's fizz for those special occasions.

In addition to tea and coffee, a range of Asian snacks is available, while Islamic songs are played over loudspeakers.

Pubgoers can play snooker, darts or karam, an Indian board game similar to billiards.

Islamic-themed quiz nights have also been organised.

Owners Azizur Rahman and business partner Muzahid Khan spotted the potential in the former Westwood Inn which was lying empty on the edge of the town centre.

Booze-free: The Halal Inn was called The Westwood before it changed hands

"Muslims are a major consumer group and they need somewhere to relax and socialise just like anybody else," said Mr Khan yesterday.

"But the presence of alcohol means traditional pubs are off-putting to those who want to follow strict Islamic rulings, so this is the perfect place for them to come.

"More and more pubs are closing down across the country, and we believe turning them into Islamic pubs could be a success anywhere that has a large Muslim community."

Line 'em up: Abdus Shahid, left, and Ali Yaris enjoy a quiet (non-alcoholic) drink at the Halal Inn in Oldham

Although the pub, like many traditional British versions, is definitely a male dominated environment, there is no ban on women customers.

Bartender Ali Yaris, 44, said: "Local people have been very supportive although sometimes it does cause a bit of confusion.

"One night a man came in, sat down at the bar and said to me: 'Pint of lager, please, mate'.

"I looked around and he followed my eyes and realised that there weren't any beer pumps, there weren't any optics and there weren't any bottles of spirits on the shelf behind the bar.

"We had a bit of a laugh. I think he went somewhere else to find something a bit more traditional."

Clean-cut: Mr Khan and Mr Rahman, seen here playing a game of snooker, are hoping to pull in Muslim customers put-off regular pubs and clubs

The pub has its own snooker league with about 20 competitors vying to be its first champion.

Office worker Mohammed Ali, 27, was enjoying a quiet game after work.

"There are usually a decent mix of people - not all of them Muslims. It's a very sociable place," he said.

"It's a bit different from a pub because you don't get drunks and so you don't get too much aggro. I think it's a brilliant idea."

Abdus Shahid, 29, a regular at the pub, said: "It is just like a pub only it doesn't sell alcohol.

"We come here to relax, have a game of snooker and generally just meet up with mates after a day at work.

"I think the main point of going to a pub for English lads is the drink, but here the aim is just to see your friends and relax a little bit."

Almost as glaring as the absence of alcoholic drinks is the fact that there are no televisions at the inn.

Mr Khan agreed that showing live football or cricket could attract more customers.

"It's a new concept and it's going to take people a while to get used to it, even in the Muslim community, but it's early days still," he said.