Alcohol and pork in Islam. A topic many have questioned. What was the question again? Oh yes.. “Why do Muslims eat in a place that serves alcohol but not one that serves pork?”. This question was tweeted by Patrick Teoh at 7:24 AM – 18 Nov 2011. A few have replied via tweeter.
I wanted to reply with a tweet. However, I think 140 characters will not be enough.
First, Mr Teoh, may I change the question a little bit to “Why are Some Muslims willing to eat in a place that serves alcohol but not one that serves pork?” There.. that’s a much better question because, a lot (perhaps a majority) of Muslims do not and will not eat nor drink at places that serves alcohol or pork.
Muslims and Alcohol
The general public surely knows that Islam forbids the consumption of alcoholic products. What about eating and drinking in establishments that serves them? Truth is, Muslims are not encouraged to drink, eat or hang out in places where only alcoholic products are served.
What many don’t know is that Islam prohibits Muslims from consuming, serving, selling, making, trading and promoting alcoholic products. Basically, Muslims ought not to have anything to do with alcoholic products directly or indirectly. This is the reason why some Muslims who work as cashiers are not willing to service clients buying alcoholic products. It’s not that they don’t want or cannot touch the bottles. Muslims are not suppose to sell it to others too.
This, however, does not mean that Muslims working at cash registers should refuse to service a customer at the cash register if the customer is purchasing alcoholic products. They really should not be working at the cash register in the very first place. In fact, Muslims should not even work in establishments that sell alcoholic products.
Do note that it is not the alcohol that is prohibited. It’s alcoholic products (Arak in Bahasa Malaysia) like beers and wines that is prohibited. Products that contains alcohol level that does not make you drunk can be consumed like the Malaysian favorite fermented rice or “Tapai”.
Alcohol, in its raw chemical form, used in perfumes and medical purposes are also fine in Islam.
Liquors, wines and beers are also considered as “Najis Mutawasittah”. So, if one is to come into contact with them, they are required to wash the contact point with clean water. Muslims are required to wash the contact place three times until there is no trace of the substance exists (smell, color and taste) at the point of contact.
A normal wash with water and soap should be sufficient to wash away the liquor from your clothes and skin.
Muslims and Pork
Islam forbids pork consumption. That I assume everyone knows. What many don’t know is that a pig is considered as “Najis Mughalazzah”. Contact with pork requires a thorough and complete tanning wash to clean up (Samak in Bahasa Malaysia). A normal clean water and soap wash is not sufficient. This is required on everything that is exposed to pork – transport, storage, knives, cups, glasses, plates, spoons, forks, etc.
Can Muslims sell pork and its’ related products to anyone? No. Muslims are also forbidden from selling pork and its’ related products.
Islam, Alcoholic Products and Pork
So, in terms of alcoholic products, Muslims are forbidden from:
Should a Muslim come into contact with an alcoholic product, they are required to wash the contact point first before performing any type of prayer.
In terms of pork related products, Muslims are not allowed to:
If a Muslim were to come into contact with any part of a pig, a complete tanning wash and cleanup is required. This is also required for all tools and utensils that came into contact with pork related products.
So, my answer to the question “Why are Some Muslims willing to eat in a place that serves alcohol but not one that serves pork?”
It’s because, the utensils used in places where no pork is served is not tainted by “Najis Mughalazzah” where a normal wash with water and soap is sufficient to make it clean and usable. Whereas, utensils used in a place serving pork will need to undergo a more stringent tanning wash to make them clean and usable.
That my friends, is why some of these Muslims are willing to eat and drink in places where alcohol is served but not where pork is served. At least from my point of view. I am no psychic, thus, I don’t really know their actual reasons.
For me, given the only choice between a place that serves alcohol and a place that serves pork, I will choose the place that serves alcohol. However, today, there are just way too many options that does not serve any of them. So, really.. there really is no reason for Muslims to drink, dine or hangout in places that serves alcohol or pork.
Some say they are forced due to work or business commitment. Well, you surely can request that the business or work be done in some other location right? All you need to do is ask.. not too hard to do.
Now, a disclaimer.. I am not a scholar in Islamic Laws. My view comes from my somewhat limited search in Google and my existing knowledge. Get in touch with the many Islamic bodies available in Malaysia if you need detailed clarification about this.
If you are a scholar and have better knowledge about this than I do, please add to this article in the comments section below or put up a link to your content where you explain this in more detail.