Excerpt : I am a Muslim, and hence a teetotaler by choice. Islam outlaws the imbibing of intoxicants in whatever quantity, of whatever type. Although recognising some benefits of alcohol, the Quran forbids it on grounds that its harmful effects far exceed the benefits.
I am a Muslim, and hence a teetotaler by choice. Islam outlaws the imbibing of intoxicants in whatever quantity, of whatever type. Although recognising some benefits of alcohol, the Quran forbids it on grounds that its harmful effects far exceed the benefits. It then condemns intoxicants as an abomination of Satan’s handiwork that must be shunned. In Islam, intoxicants by definition include alcohol and other substances such as khat and drugs that induce a state of intoxication, functional mood disorders and psychosis.
President Uhuru this week came out fighting to save lives of people in his Mt Kenya region devastated by alcoholism. He accused those selling ‘illicit’ drinks as people ‘licensed to kill’ and demanded their licenses be cancelled. He directed those officers failing to eliminate these brews in their respective areas be summarily dismissed. A visibly agitated president ordered MPs from the region and his administration to get all ‘second generation alcoholic drinks’ off the shelves and shut the drinking dens.
The problem with these measures is the double standards. Alcoholic drinks made by major companies, well packaged and branded, are considered non-illicit beer and are legal. Only the well to do can afford it. The cheaper drinks made by local brewers for the masses are deemed to be illicit brews and are illegal. This is the category the president wants shut down; meaning, the rich can get drunk on their legal stuff but the poor should remain sober. It would have been a good thing but the poor wants to get drunk too, ostensibly to forget their misery, poverty and unhappiness. Hence, the trade will go underground!
Ironically, many of the elites too develop alcoholism from the social drinking, and are drunkards just like these ordinary folks on the local brews. In US alone, there are over 15 million alcoholics. Binge drinking costs United Kingdom over US$ 7.5 billion annually, where nearly 9% of the adults are alcohol dependent. The situation is worse in many other developed countries. Yet, there are no ‘illicit’ brews! It’s the ‘pombe halali’ beers that drive them to the trenches in stupor.
Our solution should not be to focus on the second generation drinks but rather to develop appropriate policies to discourage consumption of alcohol. How do you discourage the ordinary folks from excessive drinking when they see their leaders often in drunken stupor? They must lead by example by weaning themselves off alcohol first! Mututho laws that limited drinking hours was a good start but are are not enforced effectively. After the killer brew deaths in 2014, an order by former CS Ole Lenku to suspend over 50 administrators were ignored. Let’s also stop the glorification of alcohol in the media, and the state’s overdependence on revenue from alcohol.
A prominent Muslim scholar, Ahmed Deedat, described alcoholism as ‘a disease sold in bottles, advertised in the media, contracted willingly, has licensed outlets to sell it, produces revenue for the government…”. The French Nobel Prize winner Dr Charles Richet described a drunkard as “the ugliest thing in creation, a repulsive being, the sight of whom makes one ashamed to belong to the same living species”.
Let the President renounce alcohol and become a teetotaler as an example to his community. Other leaders from the region should follow suit, and switch to milk at public cocktails rather than alcohol. That will have a greater impact that the knee-jerk reaction that will drive local brewers underground..