"In addition to agreeing to the PMU statement of principles, you agree to interact and exchange ideas with Muslims who may or may not pray, who may or may not drink alcohol, who may or may not engage in sex outside of marriage, who may or may not be homosexual, who may or may not believe in God. PMU will not tolerate any statements questioning or admonishing a person's practice or lack of practice, faith or lack of faith, or sexual identity. "While this may sound to some as if the Progressive Muslim Union is expanding the "tent" - it is, infact, yet another step by the PMU towards institutionalizing corruptions of very basic teachings of Islam. The issue of alcohol resulted in extreme defensive tones by the PMU defenders - Muqtedar Khan in his resignation letter has termed this "fanatical rage."
Readers in the United States may not fully appreciate the social status role that openly drinking alcohol plays in Muslim majority countries. While there are individuals across all social classes who may take a swig now an then --- it is for the elites that alcohol serves a specific purpose of enhancing one's status, and separating one's self from the mass of Muslims who live in poverty.
Both, alcohol, and an open willingness to have "sex outside of marriage" ('affairs') are part of a yardstick with which the acceptablity of a Muslim is measured. (A "good Muslim" is one who drinks alcohol, a fundamentalist is one who observes the five prayers, wears hijaab, has a beard etc.) It is a form of imitation of the "west" that elites love to indulge in --- believing in the superiority of the "west" to Islam.
While alcohol plays an elitest role in many/most muslim majority countries, lets take a look at Pakistan, as an example:
Dr. Mahjabeen Islam describes what is really a reflection of the elite class of Pakistan under the "enlightened moderate" Musharraf - who is busy implementing the United States vision in that country.
With Musharraf now quite inclined towards alcohol, pet dogs, Ataturk and secularism, euphemized as enlightened moderation, parties in Pakistan are no different from what they would be any Western country. There was a time that Pepsi was used to camouflage whiskey, now in mehndis and weddings there are regular bars serving vodka, whiskey and beer should you so desire.AND here is what Ayaz Amir, a columnist with the Dawn newspaper, Pakistan's largest English-language daily had to say about the "englightened moderate" :
I will admit that I travel halfway around the world for one or two Qawwali performances in the winter in Pakistan. To my horror prior to the start of the Qawwali I noticed glasses being carried in the hands of many full of that incriminating light yellow liquid. Soon enough the Qawwali was to begin and the groom’s brother detailed what a Qawwali is and then requested that since the Qawwal would start with a Hamd (poetry in the praise of God) that people should refrain from smoking. Excuse me? What about the yellow brew?
"For the whiskey-drinking class, the chattering classes, he (Musharraf) was the messiah they'd been waiting for."At the next "Progressive Muslim Union North America" event - watch out for that innocuous looking fruit punch --- it might be spiked!