The Oktoberfest beer festival took place from 24 September to 12 October in Kuala Lumpur despite controversy and protests from Muslims in Malaysia. The issue was fueled when the opposition Islamic party (PAS) Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad said that the Oktoberfest should not be prevented on the grounds that Malaysia is a plural society. The debate heated up further when several non-Muslim top leaders of the DAP and PKR parties attended the festival which originates from Germany. They even uploaded their photos to social networking sites to express their support for the immoral festival. On the contrary, the Secretary of PAS’s Ulema Shura Council, Nik Zawawi Salleh stressed that the country’s multi-racial reasons cannot be applied to justify the Oktoberfest beer festival. He added that although the ban on alcohol only applies to Muslims, non-Muslims must not be allowed to organize an event that openly promotes consumption of alcohol. Commenting on the development, the new Chief Minister of Selangor, Azmin Ali said that Oktoberfest did not get a permit. However, unfortunately, he still allowed the immoral event to take place without any restrictions.
Indeed, alcohol has and will continue to cause tremendous harm to the individual, family, society and state. It is true when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said that,
لا تشرب الخمر فإنها مفتاح كل شر
“Alcohol is the mother of all vices, and it is the most shameful vice.” [Reported by Ibn Majah].
Legal prohibition of alcohol is very clear and included as an issue which is known by necessity in Islam. In the Quran Allah سبحانه وتعالى says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“You who have iman! wine and gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are filth from the handiwork of Shaytan. Avoid them completely so that hopefully you will be successful.”
There are parties, whether Muslim or non-Muslim who tried to justify the holding of Oktoberfest with the argument that Malaysia is a multiracial country and we should respect the rights of non-Muslims to drink alcohol, according to the teachings of their religion. There is also the argument that this is a non-Muslim affair and has nothing to do with Islam and the Muslims have no right to interfere in the affairs of other faiths, as a manifestation of the freedom of religion, and in Malaysia it is permitted under the Constitution. There is also a view that Islam never suppresses non-Muslims, forcing them to follow the will of the Muslim people, besides many other arguments.
What is clear in these arguments is that there is much confusion and errors in them. It is true that non-Muslims have rights, but these rights are determined by syara’ and not by intellect, desires or interests of any party. In Islam, non-Muslims (dhimmi) are only allowed to practice their religion to the extent permitted by Shariah alone. It does not matter whether they agree or disagree, like it or not, they shall be subject to Shariah. A plural society does not imply that a non-Muslim can do anything they desire.
Non-Muslims are allowed to practice their beliefs in issues of faith, food and drink, clothing and marriage. In terms of belief, they are not forced to convert to Islam and can practice their belief but they are not allowed to openly disclose their eminence in public places. In terms of food and drink, non-Muslims are permitted to eat and drink according to the teachings of their religion, but they are not allowed to drink alcohol in public places and not allowed to hold liquor parties. Similarly, all the things that can be harmful to society and moral or ethical behavior is also prohibited in Islam.
This is where the need to distinguish between the act of drinking alcohol and organizing an open drinking feast must be made. Islam allows the first but not the second as the second means exposing the blasphemous teachings of the kuffar to the public. Aside from the conditional permission granted by Islam in matters of food and drink, non-Muslims are also subjected to the Islamic Shariah in all other issues.
Islam has too often been “challenged” by disbelief and disobedience. Oktoberfest beer festival is one obvious example. It is clear that such festival cannot be separated from two things – bad leaders and bad system. Thus, when Muslims are led by secular leaders who separate religion from life and allow democracy, which is full of blasphemy and depravity, implemented upon us, our lives will no longer be determined by halal and haram but will be led by diabolic desires and benefit. Indeed, the spread of the Kufr culture in this country cannot be separated from the symptoms of systemic damage due to the application of this henious democratic system. There is no other way out of this problem unless we rid ourselves of this Kufr system and struggle to raise the Deen of Allah by re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate.
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Dr. Muhammad – Malaysia