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Shahed Amanullah, Zabihah founder
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Subway featuring halal foods is busy

There's just one place in North America where an observant Muslim can follow Jared's diet - the sandwich plan that helped Subway pitchman Jared Fogel lose 245 pounds.



It is indiscernible from other Subways, except for a neon green sign in the window spelling out "Halal," the term for foods that are lawful according to the Quran.



In the two years she has served halal food at her Subway, Ruhila Khan has built a following from New Jersey and neighboring states. The success can be seen in the Sales Volume awards on the wall behind the register.



"I don't have enough space to hang up all of them," Ms. Khan said, smiling. "I did something for Allah, and he has blessed us."



In a state with one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, restaurant owners and community members say it makes business sense for mainstream restaurants to cater to Muslims.



"It's symbolic of our acceptance in the fabric that is America," said [Shahed Amanullah], founder of zabihah.com, a Web site that lists restaurants across the U.S. that serve halal food.



Muslims consuming fast food is not a new concept; globalization has made U.S. brands available in Islamic countries. For instance, just outside Islam's holiest mosque in Mecca, wealthy Saudi Arabians can have halal Whoppers or KFC while watching pilgrims perform the Hajj.



But in the U.S., choices for Muslims have until recently been limited to restaurants offering traditional ethnic fare, Mr. [Amanullah] said. Independent Muslim-run fast food shops started appearing in the 1990s in urban centers that have sizable Muslim population.



Ms. Khan, who owns the Subway shop with her husband, Shahnawaz, said opening an American fast-food franchise that sold halal food was something she wanted to do since immigrating from Pakistan 15 years ago. When she went through training to open a Subway franchise, she pushed for the chance.



Subway also has numerous restaurants in Muslim countries, Subway spokesman Kevin Kane said, adding that recently in Ohio, the first kosher Subway restaurant opened.



Halal dietary restrictions are similar to kosher rules. Pork is forbidden and the slaughter of animals for meat is done under special guidelines, so the meat remains uncontaminated with blood.



Customers who come into Khan's Subway restaurant can order from the standard menu. Or, they can choose from a small printout taped to the wall that lists the halal menu. The sandwiches are the same minus the Italian BMT (pepperoni, Genoa salami and ham) but Ms. Khan keeps the halal meat in a separate fridge, and uses different utensils to handle it.



One American chain restaurant now offers halal at all its locations.



Outback Steakhouse began serving halal lamb, though Muslim customers have to make sure they don't get their vegetables dressed with "seasoned butter," which contains bacon in the seasoning, and avoid the cabernet sauce. The chain's supplier of lamb meat is a New Zealand-based company that follows halal standards because of its large business in the Middle East.



There is no official count on the number of restaurants in America serving halal food, but Mr. [Amanullah] of zabihah.com said he has seen an increase.



The site started about six years ago with 20 restaurants, he said - now it gets 20 new ones a day. The site lists 44 halal restaurants in the Dallas area.



(Dallas Morning News, May 6, 2006)

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