Targeting the Root Cause: Stopping Alcoholic Beverage Industry – The Way Forward

Despite having Muslims as the majority of the population in this country, which based on their belief, does not consume alcoholic beverage; it can be sold and consumed in large scale in this country because it’s allowed according to the law. The law implemented in a country will determine which goods and services can be sold and consumed, which one is not.

The reason for such unfortunate reality can be traced back to the inception of this country, when the supreme law of Malaysia, Federal Constitution was established by the Reid Commission headed by Lord William Reid. Even though some might argue that during the establishment of the Federal Constitution, the commission opened for recommendations from many parties including Muslim scholars, but we must bear in mind that it is up to the commission to decide whether to include any of these recommendations from the Muslim scholars in the constitution. This indicates that the establishment of the Federal Constitution is based on the framework of the Reid Commission, not based on Islamic one.

Therefore, the decision whether or not any economic goods such as alcoholic beverage or pork can be processed at the industrial scale, then sold and consumed openly is based on the law under Federal Constitution. This is the fundamental knowledge that people need to understand beyond the issue deaths in road accidents caused by drunk driver.

Since the alcoholic beverage industry is legal in this country, then the trading, as well as the consumption of alcohol is allowed to expand like other industries as long as they comply to all related legal provisions. In addition, some might justify that alcohol has also contributed significantly to the Malaysian economy in terms of creating jobs and tax revenue to the government, particularly in tourism industry among others.

Like other industries, it is the government’s responsibility to make sure they comply to the rules and regulations. As long as the industries comply to the law, then they are encouraged to expand so that they can contribute back to the economy. The same thing applied to the alcoholic beverage industry. This is evident when Malaysia, being a renowned Muslim country, but it has been named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s 10th largest consumer of alcohol despite its small population and size.

The deaths of innocent people because of drunk drivers is seen as a separate issue from the issue of alcohol beverage industry. That’s why we can see that the government’s approach in handling the issue of fatal accident caused by drunk drivers only focuses on the law related to Road Transport Act in addition to campaigns to create awareness on the danger of alcohol abuse, not on the law about the alcoholic beverage industry as a whole, let alone to stop the industry.

Strengthening the Road Transport Act may or may not be successful in reducing the incidence of fatal accident caused by the drunk drivers, yet it may not definitely solve the issue pertaining to alcohol consumption as it does address the problems arising from the alcoholic beverage industry.

This also applies to the government approach to the issue of domestic violence caused by drunken husband, as the government will focus on finding the solution for the domestic violence instead of addressing the root cause i.e. the alcohol industry as a whole. This is the fact that we need to realize and understand.

Whether we like it or not, we have to admit that the alcoholic beverage industry is allowed and legal in this country, just like the licensed gambling industry. These two sectors were thriving at industrial scale and contribute significantly to the Malaysian economy.

From the secular and capitalistic point of view, there is no reason for the government to shut these two sectors, in fact such move is seen as counterproductive especially during this challenging times as we are facing economic uncertainties following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those with higher moral compass, sincere faith, and strong religious awareness who call for closure of the alcoholic beverage industry and restriction of large-scale import face strong opposition particularly from various stakeholders from the industry. Even the Law Minister who hails from political party leaning towards Islam took the path away from tackling the root cause, focusing instead towards ‘symptomatic’ measures similar to the plan that has been outlined by the previous PH government.

Moreover, even though it seems that it is possible to implement definitive solution, but in reality, it is almost impossible to do so, as the supreme law in this country permits the growth of the industry. The same applies to the implementation of hudud in this country. Although it looks like there is glimmer of hope for it to be implemented, but after long polemic and people has gained more understanding about the Federal Constitution, now even the strongest proponent of implementation of hudud via constitutional means has reluctantly realized that it is almost impossible to achieve under Federal Constitution.

In Islam, the policy about alcoholic beverage industry is very clear, that any prohibited good and services such as alcohol, pork, gambling, prostitution and all sorts of haram activities are not considered as economic goods. Therefore, it cannot be manufactured and sold like other economic goods. In other words, according to Islamic rule, no alcoholic beverage industry would be allowed to exist in an Islamic state.  Alcoholic beverage (khamr) is forbidden under ten circumstances, not only for consumption. At-Tirmidhi reported from Anas Ibn Malik who said:

لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الخَمْرِ عَشَرَةً: عَاصِرَهَا، وَمُعْتَصِرَهَا، وَشَارِبَهَا، وَحَامِلَهَا، وَالمَحْمُولَةُ إِلَيْهِ، وَسَاقِيَهَا، وَبَائِعَهَا، وَآكِلَ ثَمَنِهَا، وَالمُشْتَرِي لَهَا، وَالمُشْتَرَاةُ لَهُ

“The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم cursed ten in relation to Khamr: its producer, the one assigned with its production, the one who drinks it, the one who transports it, the one it is transported to, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who eats from its profit, its buyer, and the one for whom it is purchased”.

Non-Muslims (Kafir zimmi), on the other hand, are only allowed to consume alcohol in their personal place, and alcoholic beverages are also not allowed to be sold openly to the public. Any activities that involves alcohol consumption openly are also not allowed in Islam.

As a conclusion, even though the number of cases of deaths of innocent people in accident caused by drunk drivers is increasing, it is impossible to stop the alcoholic beverage industry in this country within the framework of this system, because the existence of such industry is allowed by the constitution. Actions to stop the alcoholic beverage industry means against the constitution and would be challenged by the industry players as it is their right which was protected by the constitution.

The only viable measure that the government can do in handling this issue is to enact the related laws to prevent drunker from driving, no more than that, because main issue not the alcohol industry as a whole but the act of driving under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, the alcoholic beverage industry can only be stopped if the country is ruled based on Al-Quran and Sunnah. The country is none other than the Khilafah state. Therefore, the definitive solution to stop the alcoholic beverage industry which is the root cause that resulted in the widespread negative impacts of alcohol consumptions in our country is through reestablishment of Khilafah state according to the method that was shown by Rasulullah (saw).