ONDON – Reaching out to British Muslims, a US-based company has announced plans to release a new alcohol-free “halal” whiskey in UK supermarkets.
People may welcome the product, “especially Muslims who drink, who might see it a way of maintaining a drinking habit without having to drink alcoholic drinks,” Talha J. Ahmad, a member of the central working committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, told Al Arabiya News.
He maintained that he does not think “it makes a difference…those who don’t drink whisky would not suddenly want to drink whiskey, whether it’s halal or not.”
Islam takes an uncompromising stand on prohibiting intoxicants. It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.
The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that gets people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.
A British study released in November 2010 found that alcohol is a more dangerous and lethal drug than heroin or crack cocaine.
Alcohol is blamed for the death of 195,000 people in the 27-nation European Union every year and more than 10,000 deaths were due to alcohol-related road accidents, with young people especially at risk.
It is also blamed for 7.4 percent of all ill-health and premature death in the EU, a 2006 EU-commissioned report said.
Produced by Florida-based ArKay, the alcohol-free whiskey will sell for a little less than $16 a bottle.
Targeting the Muslim minority, the company managers noted that the new product will help those who want to quit drinking addiction.
“We are not pretending to make real Whisky or real Scotch,” Sylvie Grattagliano, president of the company, said in an emailed statement.
“ArkAy’s philosophy is to help millions of peoples with a drinking problem to get away from liquors,” he explained.
In 2004, the UK Muslim Law Council has given the Muslim minority — estimated at 2.7 million — the go-ahead to buy soft drinks containing tiny traces of alcohol and pork by-products.
The council, Britain’s highest authority on halal food, has issued a fatwa making Lucozade and Ribena the first British soft drinks fit for Muslims, following deep Muslim concerns about ingredients in the brands.