A hawker who recently opened a halal beef noodles stall in Yishun back in September was disheartened by some comments he overheard while running his business — apparently, he doesn’t look like a Muslim person.
“It’s normal to be competitive in business but this is just sad,” the 38-year-old owner of Beefzana wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday (Nov 1), implying that a fellow hawker had made the comments.
Shocked by the remark, Ishrat Deva responded by laying out in the open his troubled past and the path he took towards turning over a new leaf when he converted to Islam.
“I wouldn't be posting this if I hadn't heard for myself people saying I don't look like Muslim to my customers,” he wrote, sharing pictures of his official Muslim conversion card.
In an interview with The Halal Eater, Ishrat’s background is fleshed out further. Born a Catholic, he ran into some trouble with the law as a teen and drifted in and out of various odd jobs until he decided to apply as a waiter at Zouk when he was 26.
Even though he managed to piss off the hiring manager by turning up late for his interview, he got the job and worked his way up to become an assistant manager, spending 12 years at the iconic nightclub. In between, he married the very same hiring manager who interviewed him, converted to Islam and had two sons.
With the nightlife industry struggling to survive due to the restrictions fuelled by the pandemic, Ishrat left Zouk to open a noodle stall called Beefzana — named after his wife, Suzana. According to the menu listed on Facebook, the stall along Yishun Industrial Street 1 offers beef noodles in multiple variations, including Vietnamese pho and Thai green curry.
Ishrat’s story of his humble beginnings struck a chord with many, garnering over 800 shares and many more likes on his Facebook post. Though the stall hasn’t obtained official halal certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, he assures that he will get it done as soon as he is able to afford it.