Interfaith Harmony thru Alcohol Ban By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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Interfaith Harmony thru Alcohol Ban

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Member National Assembly
Patron-in-chief, Pakistan Hindu Council

All religions demand their followers to abstain from alcoholic beverages but it is very unfortunate that sale and purchase of alcohol is permitted in Islamic Republic of Pakistan under the shelter of Non-Muslims. Article 37(h) of Constitution, prevents the consumption of alcoholic liquor otherwise than for medicinal and, in the case of non-Muslims, religious purposes. Every sensible non-Muslim citizen of Pakistan has serious reservations on this clause because like Islam, every religion prohibits the liquor and warns about the negative effects of alcohol on society. Islam has declared in very clear words that alcohol is “Mother of all evils” and drinking alcohol is a major sin. A society based on Islamic principles must not allow wine business in any circumstance. As every religion discusses about God and good things, it is obvious that all these religious books also have many teachings in common to serve humanity and struggle to ensure peaceful society whereas the wine drinker becomes the source of anarchy in the society by disobeying God.

I have expressed my stance on many occasions that a peaceful society is based on the mutual respect given to other religion followers. It is regretful to state that heinous business of alcohol, associated with non-Muslim citizens, is indeed very painful for all of God-fearing people, and must be considered a “blasphemous act”. As a Parliamentarian, I am not only playing my due role in the National Assembly for the eradication of this social evil from society but also I have submitted my petitions in the Sindh High Court and Supreme Court.

While complaints by Non-Muslims are very much common regarding to ignore them in the national development, they are also victimized to associate them with the alcohol business. I consider this is also a major reason of hatred against Non-Muslims in Pakistan. Last year when Sindh High Court had ordered to close all wine shops across the province then the move was warmly welcomed by Non- Muslims. All segments of society including Muslims also assured their cooperation to extend the efforts to curb the alcohol throughout Pakistan. Non-Muslims took a breath of relief that they will be no more connected with the insulting wine trade, but soon the powerful wine shops mafia approached the Supreme Court. It was really very strange situation where at one side non-Muslims representative were presenting their stances in support of ban of wine shops and on the other side Muslims lawyers were fighting the case of wine shops owners for declaring the SHC order null and void.

Many interesting fact were revealed during court hearing that wine shops and production are much more than the non-Muslims population in Sindh. Poor Non-Muslims who do not have access to clean water, deprived of their basic rights, and their lives and properties are always at stake but the wine consumption in their name is in such a huge quantity throughout the province that they could even take bath.

Supreme Court sent back the appeal of wine shop owners to Sindh High Court with an advice to hear their view point, but a wrong perception against the reality was publicized that Supreme Court has allowed reopening of wine shops. In simple words, wine shop owners claimed that alcohol is allowed in non-Muslims religions. Previous days, Sindh High Court in response to my petition has once again ordered to close all wine shops and asked to define a mechanism to regulate the process of alcohol business in the name of Non-Muslims.

To promote the interfaith harmony, I used to study religious books of various faiths and exchange views with different religious leaders. Due to this, I would like to emphasize that not only in Islam but alcohol is also forbidden in all other religions. According to the teachings of Askand -1, Adhya – 17, Shilok – 38, 39, 40, 41 in Hindu Holy Book “Shrimad Baghwat Puran”, consumption of alcohol is not allowed, especially for the decision maker leaders. Hindu holy book “Manu Smriti” Chapter 9, verse 235 stated that a liquor drinker should be known as man who committed major crime. Baba Guru Nanak Saheb warned in the holy book Guru Granth Sahib in page number 1377 that those mortals who consume wine – no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. Let’s have look at some teachings of Bible to describe those people who used alcohol, as well as the effects it has on the human body.

The Bible book of Proverbs contains serious warnings against indulging in alcoholic beverages. “Wine mocks those who use it and rewards them with woe, sorrow, strife, and wounds without cause,” The Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; 31:4 mentioned, adding that “In the end it [wine] bites like a snake and poisons like a viper” (verse 32, NIV). The Bible clearly declared that human bodies are temples of the living God. Due to this fact, God is concerned with how we treat our bodies, including what we eat or drink. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV). A Buddhist Monk by the name of Master Hsing Yun in his book, The Five Precepts mentions that it is forbidden to consume even a little of alcohol. Buddhists are required to avoid all kind of intoxicating beverages, including smoking. Similarly, there are many verses on the prohibition of alcohol in the Mosaic Law and Talmud under the Judaism.

I read somewhere that when it was announced by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) in Madina that alcohol is no more allowed because Allah had prohibited it. Someone asked “Shall I not give it to Non-Muslims as a gift? But the Prophet (PBUH) replied that The One Who has prohibited it has also prohibited that it be given as a gift. He also discouraged the consumption of alcohol in the medicines and ordered to pour on the ground.

I have visited a number of countries but I have never seen such injustice that Non-Muslims here in Pakistan are facing. Hypocritical access to wine shops is being provided under the cover of Non-Muslim religions. Many media reports revealed that Muslim citizens have free access to wine shops, even during the court hearing, it was discussed that how a Muslim citizen can obtain wine by showing the identity card of his Non-Muslim friend. The worst practice across the Sindh province is to establish wine shops near Masjid, Temple, School, Park and other public places, which should be condemnable.

Alcoholic beverages, no doubt, are being consumed across the globe, most particularly in the developed countries but there are rules and regulations in this regard. Drinking at public places and driving while drunk are punishable crimes there. The temperance movements against the consumption of alcoholic beverages are also popular in many parts of west. The movement typically criticizes excessive alcohol consumption and asks government to regulate the availability of alcohol or even its complete ban.

Pakistan is an Islamic country and Non-Muslims citizens must abstain from drinking wine to show solidarity with Muslim citizens and promote interfaith harmony. If this is not possible for the government, then like other countries, the access to alcohol should be legally open to all regardless of religion, so that if any aduItPakistani citizen, while keeping all the negative circumstances in his mind, would like to consume alcohol, it will be considered his own personal decision with no link with any religion. Otherwise I am afraid that we are making our God Mighty angry by involving ourselves in the dirty business of alcohol in the name of religion in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

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