Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Proposed Alcohol Ban in Oman: expats and Omanis, Muslims and non-Muslims---what should be done


As everybody in Oman probably knows by now, our form of elected government (you have to be 18 years of age and an Omani citizen to vote) the Majlis Al-Shura voted to comepletely ban the sale and purchase of alcohol in Oman. My Omani-husband was like, "as a Muslim this is good, and Sultan Qaboos knows if the Ministers reject it, or worse---he does---Omanis will be mad."

"Qaboos won't do it," I insist. "Unless he really is dying... Oman is not an Islamic Caliphate. And... alchohol isn't the first thing Muslims should deal with ---or a ban how they should deal with it---if they actually WANT a true Islamic government. I mean, look how well all that has worked for Saudi. A ban affecting non-muslims wasn't even done by the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) so it isn't following an Islamic example of how we should go about it. The example from the Prophet only affected Muslims in the ban on buying and selling."

Of course, as written by Oman Coast {here: http://omancoast.blogspot.com/2014/12/ban-alcohol-sheesha-on-land-sea-air.html#comment-form } the "Majils Al-Shura has minimal legislative powers and only makes recommendations that are then taken up by high authorities such as the Ministers Council until the final say is with the Sultan..." and the most likely outcome of such a recommendation will be "possibly more restrictions will be put in place as a compromise."

Which, perhaps unbeknownst to Oman Coast, is definately more in tune with Islamic example and history, than what is in place in Saudi.

Muscat Mutterings has also done a couple posts { here http://www.muscatmutterings.com/2014/12/will-oman-dry-out-and-gas-prices-set-to.html } and reading the comments, I hear some things I find ridiculous.

Number one, banning alcohol is not a "wahabi/salafi" thing from Saudi. It isn't pressure from Saudi. Saudis (who are bad Muslims, not the good ones) come here, UAE, and Bahrain, to drink---if they can't afford Europe ect.... Banning alcohol for sale by Muslims or drinking it by Muslims, is, in fact, an Islamic thing. Universal to Sunni (Saudi majority), Shia (Iran-majority) or Ibadhi (Oman majority). Most Omanis outside of al-wusta and Salalah regions and sections of Muscat like Mutrah and sections of Barka, are Ibadhi. The majority of Shura members who voted to ban alcohol comeplety?: Ibadhi.

There are lots of screwed up things to blame KSA (Saudi) for, but this proposed ban: not one of them.

FACT: The majority of Omanis in Oman want alcohol banned completely because Islam strictly forbids drinking, selling, or even sitting with a drinking person for Muslims.

However, the majority of Omanis might want it banned comeplety, but actually, in Islam, it is only banned to be sold or purchased by Muslims. Thus, placing restrictions on Muslims (since most resident ID cards have a place for information to be placed about your religion) would be sufficient as a compromise to the populace and would not affect the working expats required to keep the economy as it is now, or affect tourism (except our GCC and local Omani drinkers---which, suffice it to say, as a Muslim, I think Oman can handle).

An argument made by my husband is general tourists in Oman don't come here for fancy cocktails, beer, and hotels (that is more locally based expats ect... and our own Omanis who drink). They come for the nature (deserts, wadis, mountains, or diving), or for the culture and history. I agree, however, a large portion of the economy relating to tourism is local and GCC tourism, and these (I am hoping only non-Muslim but I am a realist) tourists, drink. They come for hotels and cocktails.

I know, as a Muslim I will say, Allah is sufficient for us. Which is true. In Islam when you are doing the right thing, it all works out in the end, usually to the best. That's been my personal experience. However, a ban ON non-Muslims as well as Muslims wasn't what WAS done in Islam. Islam is a religion that states, it can't be forced on other people. If you look at the punishments for drinking in Islam, it was punishments Muslims inflicted on Muslims, not non-Muslims, Christians, anyone of the Judaic faith, or pagans, ect....

As amused as I was to read Oman Coast's comment comparing this proposed ban for Oman to prohibition in the US: "...envisioning... a whiskey still in deep in the Hajar mountains" I smiled to myself. It is actually a historical fact, that wine-making (a whiskey still is a tad unlikely) in the Hajar mountains, from grapes, pre-dates Islam in Oman;).  Another fact: Omanis drink. A compromise of true Islamic reflection would be banning Muslims, not Omani citizens in general, from purchasing or selling alcohol.

A suggestion from non-Muslim expats that would be appear to make good sense is, in the words of Oman Coast:

"Instead of banning, why not raise up the tax on alcohol and collect funds for the government"

...is the simple fact Muslims are forbidden to SELL (i.e. make money from) alcohol, not just drink it. So an economy that benefits from alcohol sales, is dirty and cursed for the majority of Omani citizens. I say, let non-Muslim citizens run this and keep the money. Let them take what comes with it.

As a Muslim, of course, I strictly applaud this attempt, like every Omani I know---however, as a rational human being, and then again as a Muslim, I have stipulations and hesitation. Intentions are great and totally Islamic in this... however, both Islamically and rationally, the ban is not thought out or what is best for Oman or...Muslims. It should be a conditional ban to be truly Islamic, only affecting Muslims, not non-Muslim expats or non-Muslim Omanis. It is less hypocritical then, where we can compare it to Saudi---where alchohol and nightclubs are readily available, supplied by corruption of custom officials and gangsters, and allowing non-Muslim citizens of the country to claim the benefits of a reputation of being Islamic when they are far from. Oman should approach this situation differently.

I say this as a concerned citizen, a former non-Muslim expat, and a Muslim who prefers to be strict with herself, rather than forcing others to the tenents of her faith.

4 comments:

Hebah Dwidari said...

in my own personal opinion as an outsider, I think it is completely up to the government whether or not they want to ban alcoholic drinks in their country. and if the drinking expats don't like it, they can always go back to their home countries.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Hebah: but such a law is a. not islamic in content, albeit in intent
2. a great percentage of the population is expat and a greater percentage of the economy is foriegn investment. To say what you have said, is to naively dismiss the economy.

Of course, a government has the right to make its own laws, and shouldn't care what outsiders care about them, but they should care about their own people and what happens to them, and the fact is , this does affect Omanis in terms of economy, and freedom of religion. If you make it so people are forced to follow Islam (even if you are not Muslim) then what comes next? Forcing Muslims to believe in only a certain kind of Islam and hurting or punishming them if their Islam is not the same as the government majority?: that's a sad fact. Majority isn't always the smartest or most informed sadly.

Tired Eyes said...

Hi

I find it hard to read these entries with the tex at different sizes. Could you please standardise text size? Thanks

Ahmed Hamed said...

Bans will just increase illegal dealers, more poison in the homemade alcohols, unknown chemicals mixed within.... Goverment should focus on how to increase public transport for many many reasons (safety, pollution..etc). Muslims or non muslims, its up to them to drink or not drink or choose their lifestyle, gov should make sure they reach safe to their homes and live happy not just include restrictions on and on as an old grandpa who knows nothing about psychology. Peaple in charge needs to learn from Netherlands.