The question several Muslim scholars are debating this Ramadan is whether Muslims should be allowed to break fast in restaurants that serve alcohol, despite not consuming it.

A couple of days ago, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria reportedly said it was a sin for Muslims to break their fast at such eateries and they should avoid those with unknown “halal” status.

Former Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri disagreed arguing that it was an impractical notion because it would also prevent them from patronising supermarkets as they sold alcohol as well.

Despite such views, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said there was no need at all for an argument on the matter.

He said the issue should not be about whether a restaurant served alcohol or not, but the reason why Muslims observed the fasting period.

“If you fast, you have a reason for it. You do it with the expectation to get the best blessings.

“Whatever you eat, it’s also an act of faith. It must be within the ambit of religion as well. If you go to a hotel and spend RM100 to eat yourself silly, that defeats the purpose.

“If you think fasting is equated with breaking fast in a big way and having sumptuous meals together, then it’s wrong. You are not fulfilling the very purpose of fasting,” he toldThe Rakyat Post.

Nadzim explained that observing the fasting period, among others, was to teach one to be thrifty and impart discipline to the younger generation.

He said while Asri should have understood this perspective, he did not blame the scholar because people generally did not know the purpose of fasting.

Nadzim said there was no major reason to eat out at any place, irrespective of whether the outlets served alcohol or not.

The food, he stressed, should be halal and prepared by Muslims.

“If the preparation methods are unknown, it will defeat the purpose.”

Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad, on the other hand, said if Harussani’s view was to be implemented, it would be impractical as Malaysia is a multireligious and multi-ethnic society.

“I’m not a scholar, but my understanding is that when people want to declare afatwa, they have to consider the reality around them,” the PAS lawmaker toldThe Rakyat Post.

Such a statement was not practical, he added, in a multireligious and multi-ethnic society like Malaysia, where the sale of alcohol was allowed for non-Muslims, though outlets were open to Muslims.

Khalid said it was wrong to impose such a proposal and assume that Malaysia was akin to Saudi Arabia.

“However, it is alright to do so in Kelantan or Terengganu, where there are very few outlets that sell alcohol and the Muslim population is huge.

“If Muslims are drinking there, then there’s a justification. If they are not, then let it be.”

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