Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Muslim restaurant owners serving pork and wine

Some Muslim businessmen living in the US serve pork and wine in their restaurants as the majority of their customers are non-Muslims. Is this permissible?

Answer

People advance all sorts of reasons to argue for the relaxation of religious restrictions. These reasons are always based on their personal and immediate interests. However, we should approach Islamic rules and principles in a different way and aim at implementing them to the best of our ability. When we have done this, we can look for concessions and relaxations if these are needed.

What we find in this argument is nothing more than looking for an easy way out of restrictions. Restaurant owners want to have the full benefit of catering to the needs of their customers without looking for the means of doing business within the confines of Islamic rules. Hence, they sell forbidden foods, believing that as long as they do not eat pork or drink alcohol, they are not violating any Islamic rules.

Other restaurant and hotel owners try to circumvent restrictions in a different way. They enter into some sort of business arrangement whereby a non-Muslim owns and serves forbidden drinks. They rent the place and the non-Muslim provides the service. This is certainly better than doing the forbidden business activity themselves, but it is not acceptable from the Islamic point of view since it involves renting one’s property to a business activity which is totally un-Islamic and serves one’s own interests.

It may be true that in a non-Muslim country, restaurants that do not serve alcoholic drinks cannot compete with others which do. But it is not true that such restaurants cannot make profit, even in a place where the majority are non-Muslims. The important thing is to know what the local community or the prospective customers need and provide it within the confines of Islamic principles. In London, one of the most successful and popular Indian restaurants does not serve any alcoholic drinks and advertises that it serves only halal meat (meat that is permissible for Muslims to eat). Yet its popularity is the envy of other restaurants. Its success is due to the quality of the food, efficient service and reasonable prices. Muslim restaurant owners should think along these lines rather than try to contravene Islamic rules. It is not permissible for a Muslim to sell pork or alcoholic drinks. No one can relax this prohibition except God the Almighty, but since He has not, we have to abide by it.
And God the Almighty knows best.

 

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