Pakistan: Court rules drinking alcohol is not haram, should not be punished

Publication Date: 
July 31, 2011
Pakistan Press

The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has declared whipping for the offence of drinking as un-Islamic and directed the government to amend the law to make the offence bailable.

A full-bench of the FSC comprising Chief Justice Haziqul Khairi, Justice Salahuddin Mirza and Justice Fida Mohammad Khan gave the ruling on Thursday after hearing the arguments that the Holy Quran asks Muslims to stay away from liquor but does not specifically declares it Haram, or prohibited.

The FSC had taken up a Shariat petition of Dr M. Aslam Khaki, who had challenged different provisions of the Prohibition Order (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979, in which drinking was provided as Hadd, prescribing 80 lashes as punishment for the offence.

Pleading the case, Dr Aslam Khaki argued before the FSC that the punishment of 80 whips was neither provided by the Holy Quran nor Sunnah, hence the offence should not be termed as Hadd. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), he recalled, had awarded only 40 sticks that too of a date tree to the offender, but not 80 whips.

Article 8 of the Prohibition Order (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979 declares drinking liable to Hadd and suggests that whoever being an adult Muslim drinks intoxicating liquor by mouth is guilty of drinking liable to Hadd and shall be punished with whipping numbering 80 whips.

Islam had declared some specific offences as Hadd which are heinous, but the offence of drinking is not a heinous crime, he argued. Though the Holy Quran has attributed drinking as both “benefit” and also Haram, but declared Haram is more than its benefit. Thus the offence of drinking is not absolute Haram.

He contended that Article 25 of the ordinance which provided punishment for attempt to drinking was violative of the injunction of Islam as neither Holy Quran nor Sunnah had provided any punishment for it.

“If a person makes an attempt to drink but withdraws, he should be appreciated but not be punished,” he said, adding intention of commission of crime without any physical act was not a crime.

The court agreeing with the petitioner declared the provisions of 80 lashes as un-Islamic and directed the federal government to amend the relevant laws to replace the punishment of whipping with sticks within six months by making it bailable offence.

In case the government failed to amend the Hadd law, the punishment will cease to exist and become void, the judgment held.

Source: Pakistan Press