Tuesday, December 18, 2018
December 15, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
Recently, there was an animating and interesting debate on the Geo Channel of Pakistan Television. The topic was whether liquor should be allowed in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or not. Let us remind ourselves that the use and drinking of liquor (sharab in Urdu language) was first banned in Pakistan by the then prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfkiar Ali Bhutto who himself was a habitual drinker of known brands such as the wine, whiskey, vodka and other brands. ZAB was a liberal and secular leader. Yet he banned liquor as a quid-pro-quo following the earthshaking countrywide civil disobedience movement against his government sponsored by the leaders of the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) after the March 1977 elections.
Now the use of liquor and intoxicant drugs such as opium, Charas and Ganja etc. have been in use by the denizens of this world from time immemorial. In the modern age except a few Islamic countries, it is an integral part of the societies and is treated to be a great source of liveliness, enjoyment and for a pleasant boost to the people.
It should be known that there was no ban on drinking liquor or the alcohol in the voluminously referred and widely quoted state of Medina (including the incumbent PTI government in Pakistan) as a model for the Muslims to follow. Imran Khan wants to establish the replica of the State of Medina in Pakistan. The prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) left it on the discretion of the Muslims to drink alcohol or not. He decreed that in this(liquor) there was more harm and less benefit. It clearly shows that drinking of alcohol was not banned by the Prophet and was left on the discretion of the drinkers. I am not aware that in subsequent it was banned by him or not.
Some of the liberal religious Islamic scholars should pick up the courage to come forward and straighten and rectify the Islamic injunction about drinking of Sharab or the alcohol. That would clarify the real edict of Islam about this most controversial issue that has kept Pakistan on the troubled tenterhooks of chaos and a rivalry between the liquor drinkers and those opposing it on the basis of religious injunctions or ban.
Let us contemplate and perceive for a minute that does real Islam depend on not liquor drinking. Or else religion Islam emphasizes on good conduct, efficient governance, equality, education, justice, honesty, truthfulness, no adulteration, safety of women and children from abduction, rape or maltreatment, eradication of poverty, and institutional efficiency etc.
The hue and cry in the name of Islam about the ban of drinking alcohol or liquor would never subside for all time to come. The myopic religious scholars have a right to impose it. Simultaneously, the drinkers would keep finding alternate routes and way-outs to drink. As stated above only a saner and judicial use of drinking liquor has been advised in Islam. An Islamic government can impose restrictions on behaviors and attitudes that cause crises and disorders in the society but not complete ban on the use of liquor. It can be perceived that in the time to come, the nation and citizens of Pakistan would be pressed by the extremists and unlettered religious zealots to grow beard, discard modern or western dresses and wear Islamic robes as can be seen in Saudi Arabia and was also worn by the prophet of Islam.
It is good to be a Muslim and adopt Islam as a religion. But to interpret it and its teachings within the framework of the city and state of Medina is simply denying this religion to go along with other societies in terms of social, political and economic changes. We live in a modern time and in civil societies which give rights, freedom of participation in the state affairs, electing their leaders, enjoying civic galore and fundamental rights and socialize. The people of the modern, civil and open societies drink and enjoy civil liberties. They are the beneficiaries of the legitimate rights such as freedom of expression, electing their leaders by using their right to vote, be free to adopt the pattern of life within the civil laws and the constitution.
The western modern societies are much better than the Islamic societies with regard to economic and social freedoms, jobs, raising families, education, rule of law and galore of civic facilities. That is why the people from backward and poor countries including Islamic deeply urge to leave their religious yet backward and poor societies and settle in the socially peaceful, economically robust, democratically vibrant and civically excellent countries.
In Islamic societies Muslims are stuck up in the past and refuse to make any changes in their attitudes, living patterns, broaden their outlook and give religious freedom tor all denominations. The Muslims are stuck up in the past and not willing to make changes which in Islam is called Ijtihad. In non-islamic countries, religion has been confined to the personal domain and choices.
This comparison can be judged from the urge and attempt of majority of the citizens and families of the Islamic countries to move towards the developed and advanced states such as USA, Canada UK, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Besides for jobs and residence, they migrate to the liberal Islamic states such as Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Muscat, Abu Dhabi UAE as well as Turkey as well as the Central Asian states.
It shows that Pakistan is economically poor, religiously unsafe, politically divided and indeed a closed society. In Pakistan, religious freedom human and fundamental rights of the citizens have no meaning. Pakistan is an intolerant country and beset with myriad religious, social, ethnic and similar problems,
That is why the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah opposed a theocracy opposed the rigid Mullas. Instead he opted for a modern, secular, liberal and democratic state where all sects and denomination would be free to pursue their religious obligations, with Islam as the leading religion. That Pakistan has even been hijacked and over-taken by the ignorant and violent bands of Islam.
The Sunnis and Shias are engaged in a religious tussle with each other for 1400 hundred years for supremacy of their brand of Islam. The fanatic Sunnis are fighting and suppressing other denominations within Islam. To name a few, these are Wahabis, Brelvis and Naqshbandi etc. If their own religious domain is divided then they have no right to declare and interpret what is permissible and what was not for others of the same faith. One such issue is the use of liquor or alcohol by the people and unwanted imposition of hard rule by the state to ban it.