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Introducing Britain’s Bangladeshi-born ‘Halal Richard Branson’

  • Published at 05:54 pm June 13th, 2018
D2_Kazi Shafiqur Rahman Firnas Airways_13_6_18
Kazi Shafiqur Rahman stands proudly in front of his own aircraft Channel 4

From toilet cleaner to aspiring airline  

Bangladeshi-born Muslim Londoner Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, who calls himself “Halal Richard Branson”, has launched Britain’s first “Sharia-compliant” airline. 

Named Firnas Airways, the airline will operate in accordance with Islamic principles. 

For starters, no pork or alcohol is served on the flight, and any food served is fully halal. Moreover, flight attendants have strict dress codes that require women to wear modest uniforms. 

The absence of alcohol might deter many from his airline, as might the “Sharia-compliant” angle in light of the phrase’s standing with the Western world. 

However, Kazi remains optimistic and adheres to his dream as well as his principles. 

“There is a huge communication issue when it comes to Islam, Sharia, halal, and things,” said the 32-year-old practicing Muslim and father of one.

Kazi came to London in 1997 when he was only 11. After completing his GCSE, he got his first job – as a toilet cleaner at London City airport. 

Sometime later, he found his big break when he started a perfume company called Sunnamusk. As his business grew, so did his dreams, and for the last two and a half years, he has been thinking of starting his own airline. 

Kazi’s chief adviser, a seasoned aviation consultant named John Brayford, has been doubtful about Kazi’s business plan. 

“If you look at the airlines around the world that don't serve alcohol, there's not one of them which can be considered successful,” he said.

Regardless of such challenges, Kazi is bent on realizing his dream – even in the face of hateful, Islamophobic internet trolls making comments about “kamikaze pilots” or stopovers in Islamic State territory.  

There is a handful of existing Sharia compliant airlines in the world, but Kazi's Firnas Airways will be Britain’s first.

His story has been told in a documentary called How to Start an Airline, which follows the Bangladeshi-born entrepreneur as he chases his dream of becoming an airline mogul.

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