Since accepting Islam eight years ago, I have avoided environments like this. Places which whilst making me feel right at home culturally, offer nothing edifying in terms of faith.
What excuse was there to sit with people drinking alcohol? I felt the immediate pull, to ‘fit in’ with everyone. To accept what they were doing as ‘their way’ and to ‘chill out’ in my idea of what Allah demands of believers.
It really doesn’t take much for us to compromise. I was pretty sure I was doing something wrong even though I wasn’t drinking myself. But, hey, my mind couldn’t quite grasp the hadith I was looking for. Had I checked my phone, I would easily have found a reason to make a polite excuse and leave.
It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not sit at a table where wine is being drunk.”
If an intention is to represent Islam in a positive way that can be respected, calling others away from toxic practices, surely this is undermined by the one ignoring Qur’anic warnings about food and drink? I have found in my journey to faith that broadly speaking people of other beliefs and none will tolerate most law-abiding practices in others. But every human heart loathes the hypocrite.
I was in County Down to talk about my memoir ‘Finding Peace In The Holy Land’ at the Rostrevor Literary Festival. It was a great chance to visit the countryside of my ancestors and to spend time amongst talented writers and musicians.
Jonny Clarke and his wife run Youth With A Mission (YWAM) from a complex of seafront buildings donated to the Christian activities, group two years ago. Many of their organizations visit Palestine and are keen supporters of the cause.