JAKIM to Prevent Muslims From Direct Alcohol Contact at Work

The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) is addressing the issue of Muslim employees having to handle alcohol in their workplace.

Alcoholic drinks in Malaysia can be found in supermarkets, convenience stores, five-star hotels, and hypermarkets. The employees who work at these places need to directly handle the alcoholic drinks, as it is part of their work.

The consideration of using vending machines in convenience stores to sell alcoholic beverages is a potential solution being explored to accommodate the religious beliefs of Muslim employees, who may find it conflicting to handle such products.

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs), Zulkifli Hasan, has shown receptiveness towards proposals that aim to alleviate the dilemma faced by Muslim workers when it comes to interacting with alcohol at work.

This initiative reflects a proactive approach towards finding practical and respectful ways to accommodate the religious sensitivities of employees while ensuring their roles and responsibilities are not compromised.

Is it permissible in Islam for Muslim employees to handle alcoholic drinks directly since it is in their line of work?

There are Muslim employees who work at supermarkets and convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Speed Mart, selling alcoholic drinks. The question is, is it permissible in Islam?

According to Mufti, a Muslim legal expert who issues non-binding legal opinions, known as fatwas, on matters of Islamic law (Sharia), it is not forbidden for Muslim employees to work in places selling alcoholic drinks if their income is from both halal and haram items. The income that they gained from it is not considered forbidden (haram), but it is disliked (makruh).

However, if the Muslim employees are directly involved in selling alcohol, such as working at the counter, it is considered forbidden (haram), even though it may be of a lesser degree of wrongdoing compared to consuming alcohol. Sheikh Mulla Ali al-Qari, in al-Mirqah Sharh al-Misykah, explains the hadith on usury:

“They are the same in terms of sin but differ in terms of their levels.”

It is preferable to make an effort to separate the counters for halal and haram items or assign them according to the employees, and this is the responsibility of the concerned employer regarding the religious welfare of Muslim workers.

Jakim’s effort in considering using vending machines to sell alcoholic drinks instead of over the counter is aligned with the suggestion provided by Mufti Malaysia.

This initiative suggests using vending machines to sell alcohol instead of having employees handle it directly. This way, it tries to make the workplace better for everyone by respecting different religious beliefs. It shows that it’s important to think about and respect people’s cultures and religions at work so that everyone feels comfortable and respected. This can help create a workplace where everyone gets along and understands each other better.

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