Task Force Defines "Moderate Muslims"
Posted: 3 Zul-Qa'dah 1422, 17 January 2002
The US government today announced another major step in its fight against terrorism. After ten years of research it has finally developed guidelines that answer the question: Just who is a moderate Muslim? The much-awaited multi-disciplinary research report contains 900 pages and covers the seemingly complex question in great detail. However it boils down to one simple test: A moderate Muslim is one who drinks in moderation.
According to an Executive Order issued today, Muslims living in the USA will be tested for moderation using the new guidelines. The house-to-house search will begin next week.
There was mixed reaction to the announcement.
Veteran columnist Daniel Cigars welcomed the announcement and said it would help root out intolerance. "Alcohol is a symbol of everything that is good about the West," he wrote. "The Muslims who hate it do so because they hate the West. They have no right to live here and enjoy our freedoms." However he said the decision did not go far enough. Muslims must also be required to shed their hatred of bacon.
A statement from "Good Muslims of America" said it supported government's efforts to end extremism and terrorism. It acknowledged that most of the terrorist and extremist Muslims had a deep hatred for alcoholic drinks. However it was also possible that some of the Muslims avoiding alcoholic drinks did so for health reasons and not because of any extremist tendencies. It urged the President to be lenient towards such Muslims.
However the president of "Very Good Muslims of America" dismissed this objection. "The health argument is simply a ploy," he said. "Somewhere in the back of their mind is the idea that Islam prohibits alcohol. And that is not true. According to our ijtihad, Islam does not forbid alcohol." "For centuries Muslims have believed that there are rivers of wine in paradise. Well if there, then why not here," he demanded. He was full of praise for the new definition. "It is so logical," he exulted. "Why of course. A moderate is one who drinks in moderation. It makes immediate sense," he kept on repeating.
He was invited for dinner at the White House.
Prominent writer and community activist Dr. I.M. Slave also supported the decision. He sheepishly admitted that he had never consumed alcohol before but he was ready to change, as everything had changed since 9/11. "This country has been good to me," he said. "I love this country and I will do everything I can to make this country love me."
Another community activist said on the condition of anonymity that the decision would increase the number of conversions to Islam. There are thousands of Americans who have not converted to Islam simply because of the harsh ban on alcohol. With that gone, "conversion floodgates could open."
The Ijtihadi Fiqh Council of Amerika took a more cautious note. It stated that most of the Jurists so far had been of the opinion that alcohol is not permitted in Islam. But there was room for ijtihad because the alcohol produced in modern scientific facilities is very different from the beverages the earlier scholars had known. A spokesman for the Council said he was optimistic that it could find juristic grounds to support the new policy.
Some Muslims were not comfortable with the announcement. A political science professor said the decision was wrong and infringed upon the freedom of religion. "However I know that the President was under tremendous pressure from the influential winery lobby. Muslims have no body but themselves to blame for not paying attention to that lobby." He added: "While I dislike it, I do understand it. I won't hold this decision against the President and will vote for him again in the next elections."
In Pakistan, the government immediately announced opening of 1000 bars throughout the country. These will be modern facilities where people could relax and enjoy a happy hour. Army units would be posted to provide security to these establishments against possible terrorist attacks. A spokesman explained that the decision was in line with the Pakistan First policy of the government, which states that Pakistan will be the first to follow any edicts issued by Washington, London, or New Delhi.
Some reporters wondered whether Pakistan army would be willing to provide guard duty for liquor stores. But Pervez Musharraf dismissed their concerns. "Ours is a professional army," he said. "It would never even think of defying its commander. Besides, with the fall of the Taliban, the atmosphere has changed completely in favor of a moderate and progressive form of Islam."
Musharraf said that the step was necessary to bring Pakistan into the fold of the civilized world. Mullas made Islam a dry and austere religion, he noted. The Muslim world banned alcohol while the Western world permitted it freely. "And you can see the difference," he beamed. He also dismissed concerns that alcohol could be bad for health. "I can speak from experience that it is not true," he said.
He also ordered all books taught in religious schools to be checked for their content regarding the issue of alcohol. Those that suggested that alcohol consumption was haram would be banned. He reaffirmed that he was devoted to modernization of curriculum at madrassahs to bring them into the 21st century.
He went on to say that there was only one Muslim country in the world that had openly permitted alcohol. Albania. "And see the progress they have made." However his press secretary, who was the only sober person in the press conference, asked the reporters to remove the reference to Albania. "We are not here to comment on other countries," he explained.
The announcement from Pakistan was immediately welcomed by the international community. Japan and Germany also announced one million dollar aid to train bar tenders in Pakistan. Bush and Blair called Musharraf and appreciated his services for the cause of moderate Islam. Colin Powell declared him man of the (happy) hour and said that in the end the bold action would help Pakistan.
India welcomed the decision but demanded that Pakistan must open the country to Indian beer imports or face consequences. A spokesman for the Pakistan government condemned the Indian demand and said the government would never give in to Indian blackmail. He however announced that the government would import three shiploads of Indian beer. He stressed that the decision had been made by the government on its own, because that is in the best interest of Pakistan.
Internal Minister Moeen Haider laughed at the ignorant Mullas "who do not know what 86 proof means and who never stepped inside a modern brewery." He asked, "How can they say something is bad when they have never tasted it?" "We won't let such ignorant people dictate to us what is halal and what is haram," he thundered.
An NGO in Pakistan, Promoting Alcohol In Defiance (PAID) reported that the opening of bars serving high quality alcoholic beverages would save thousands of lives. Last year alone 5000 people had died drinking homemade liquor. "Saving lives is very important to us," it declared. "Islam also teaches us to save human lives."
In the meantime the Organization of Islamic Conference decided that it would hold an emergency meeting in 5 years to discuss the issue.
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