Muslims Selling Alcohol To Muslims – The Blow Up

I know it seems shocking to many Muslims, especially those who are “new” to the religion that there are Muslims who would sell liquor to other Muslims or even sell liquor at all, but it’s true. I went through this shocking revelation myself not long after I had taken shahadah. “How could another Muslim selling alcohol when s/he knows it’s haram?” The question is not why would they (though, fairly, it is a good question) but rather, why do we put them, meaning foreign or ethnic Muslims, on such high pedestals? We, as American Muslims, and here I speak for those like me, converts, have had a long history of putting “ethnic” Muslims on very high pedestals – expecting great things from them, when in fact, they’re not better or worse than any of us. The decisions that led them down the road to come to America, to hide out, or perhaps “sell out”, is akin to what led us, American Muslims, to Islam. We all wanted a better life. But before I white wash this too much, let me get down to the nitty gritty.

In an article I recently read on MSN, it spoke of Muslim on Muslim violence over the selling of alcohol in Muslims neighborhoods. Specifically, Muslims attacking, vandalizing and striking out against other Muslims who are selling liquor in their neighborhoods. As I mentioned above, this is not a new phenomenon. In my thirteen going on fourteen years of being Muslim, I have prayed, sat next to and eaten with Muslims who have or still do sell liquor. We pray at the same masajid (mosques). We attend the same janaza’ (funerals). We live and die with one another each day. As a matter of fact, many of the buildings that were used as masajid were funded by Muslims who sold liquor – they were the only Muslims with money; without them, many of the masajid may have closed down. I am by no means defending these people. Just looking at the story from all sides.

Being from Detroit, I am all too familiar with a liquor store on every corner and a church on the other. You can buy alcohol in most stores for cheaper than one could by any kind of food item. And if one does that math, it is a profitable enterprise, albeit at the cost of a community’s life. Black people in urban areas are surrounded by poison. Cigarettes. Alcohol. Fast food (should check cashing be thrown into this sycophantic group as well?). And that’s the legal stuff. Not to mention drugs and prostitution. So when you have a group of people who come into these areas only to siphon off what little remains in terms of resources, yes, it is enraging. In the article, it states, “West Oakland, a predominantly black and poor section of the city where the vandalism took place, has 69 stores selling alcohol, 28 above the maximum number acceptable under a state standard that prescribes no more than one store for every 2,500 residents, according to anti-poverty group Urban Strategies Council.” The anger of black peoples in these areas should be easily understood. Easy access to drugs and alcohol exacerbates an already epidemic problem of violence and abuse in our urban areas. So for many blacks, not just Muslims who are black, these foreigners are looked at as parasitic. But toss religion on the flames and it’s a whole new fire.

Our contention with them is and should be a moral one. As moral people, we have every right to say, “this is wrong”. “We do not want these kinds of poisons in our neighborhoods”. We must take our cause to the source, in a moral and legal way. Vigilantism will solve nothing. The young men, in the aforementioned article, attacked a storeowner with lead pipes, destroying property in his store. This will do nothing to detour the man from selling liquor. Worse comes to worse, he’ll just pick up stakes and move his shop and start over somewhere else. And while his insurance covers his damage the young men will be arrested and face possible jail time. More black youths in the penal system. A loose-loose situation.

My advice would be to work the legal channels. Boycott his stores. Try educating your people and your neighborhoods on the ills and the effects of alcohol. In other words, try some da’awah. Da’awah should not just entail Fire and Brimstone speeches about the Hellfire and Wrath of God, but “inviting to the good and forbidding of the evil”. I feel their anger and frustration but going about it in a violent way will solve nothing. Wa Allahu ‘alim.

5 Replies to “Muslims Selling Alcohol To Muslims – The Blow Up”

  1. A sad note. But dats the state of our community.

    The death once said to God in this way,
    How shameless his eyes’ though made from clay.
    When I take out his soul I feel a shame,
    He feels no shame, but, to die with bad name.

    says Allama Iqbal

  2. Eid Mubarak!

    It’s highly disturbing that our youth especially take to violence in order to adress issues they are not content with.

    I think the problem often lies in the way they are taught islam by local leaders or other sources, often self studies.

    The hadith mentioning how the prophet (pbuh) says that a muslim seeing something wrong should change it with his hand, or with his mouth or ultimately say nothing but detest it in his heart (the latter being the weakest of all three). (pardon the rough retelling of it)

    This hadith is often used and quoted to justify physically (by hand) changing that which is wrong.

    Unfortunately, like with so many other hadiths, they hijack its true meaning.

  3. @2 “stopping with hand” doesn’t mean breaking off heads and properties.

    It means one has to take efforts (time/money/energy) in initiating legal ways for stopping the crime. And this is of highest degree, as its least easy and taken route. This means striving for the cause of Islam/Allah.

    If one don’t hve above resources, then do Dawaah to the concerned person or at the least feel its not correct.

    Taking up laws in one’s own hand, is the most ugliest thing on display and something which is against the spirit of Islam.

  4. Shaykhspear (nice name, by the way), I think that it may be doing a bit far afield to say that their actions are based on the Islam that they were taught but more just to basic principles of right and wrong (not to say that those aren’t Islamic). I think it points at social and maybe even cultural issues. Why do they resort to violence as an acceptable means of resolving problems? As you pointed out, there are many examples in hadiyth point out the Prophet’s (SAWS) character but it seems as if the Prophet (SAWS) was the last thing on their minds to begin with. I am going a bit far out here so instead I think I’ll use this point as a new post. Thanks for the good ideas and feedback, Shaykh. Salaams.

  5. Salams Marqas. Indeed, I don’t mean that particular hadith or narrow view of religious interpretation per se lead to such acts of violence. That would be far fetched. But it is unfortunately the case that from experience I have gathered that in many cases, this very hadith has been the quote on people’s minds while justifying physical attacks…wether they comitted them themselves or not.

    Cultural and social contexts do hold a key factor in shaping youth ofcourse.

    If someone is brought up with violence at home or in the community being the main means of communication then indeed that is what he or she will use in life.

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