I need to disagree on the closing paragraph of this excellent essay:
“Regardless of whether this is the case or not, devout Muslims have every right to consider alcohol haraam and not part of Islam the religion. But they must also accept that alcohol has always been an integral and largely tolerated aspect of Islamic culture..”
Yes, I had witnessed the relaxed ban on Alcohol in many Muslim societies, but it was among the Urban Muslims, rather than all Muslims..
Urbanism usually comes with its own set of global and broader morals and trends; which does not reflect the common national culture.. This a worldly phenomenon not a Muslim one..!
Maybe the comments are more interesting than the article itself.. It tells the perceptions of both Muslims and non-Muslims about the Islamic culture and implementations..
A Palestinian beerfest is not as bizarre as it seems. Alcohol has long been a tolerated aspect of Muslim culture
To add to the bizarreness of the situation, this Oktoberfest, the seventh of its kind, took place not in hip Ramallah but in the remote village of Taybeh, perched picturesquely at 850m above sea level and with a population of just 1,500. Moreover, readers in western countries may wonder why thousands upon thousands of revellers had trekked all that way to attend a beer festival with only one beer on tap.
Secular Palestinians, expats and even leftist Israelis equipped with glasses of Taybeh beer wandered around food and handicraft stands, watched traditional Dabke dancers, modern music, comedy and theatrical performances.
If I said that we went to an Oktoberfest last weekend, readers may wonder why I am writing about it. If I added that the beer festival in question was in the West Bank and there we encountered a couple of self-deprecating young Germans dressed in lederhosen, some may start asking themselves what I've been drinking, or perhaps smoking.
For more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/oct/08/drinkers-islam-palestinian-beerfest-alcohol