Were they drunk? Last week it was discovered that the U.S. website of rum brand Captain Morgan was asking visitors to check a box confirming that they were “non-Muslim.” After the box became a focus of controversy, it was quickly removed, but questions remain. The UK’s Metro newspaper says that the box “provoked intense theological debate online, with some calling it an example of ‘back door Sharia’ and others branding it ‘corporate racism.’” Neither Islam nor rum is a race, but back door Sharia? That it certainly is.
The Sharia aspect is clear. The Islamic prohibition on drinking alcohol is based on this Qur’anic passage: “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful” (5:90).
This is not a call for self-control. Like all of Islamic law, it is to be enforced by the Islamic state, with harsh punishments for those who get out of line (or stumble out of it). If the government is not based on Islamic law, it is up to individual Muslims to be executors of the wrath of Allah, as the Qur’an commands: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury in the believers’ hearts” (9:14-15).
Thus we saw last week the Sharia authorities in Nigeria’s Kano State destroying 196,400 bottles of beer. Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje explained why: “In Islam, alcohol is strongly forbidden. Our Islamic Scholars, religious and community leaders should join hands together in the crusade [sic!] against such social vices.” Ganduje, like the temperance crusaders of old in the United States, apparently believes that people can’t be trusted to do the right thing of their own accord, and so the cause of temptation simply must be taken away from them.
We also saw last week what happens if the cause of temptation is not taken away. Jihadis entered the village of Mbau in Mozambique and came upon a group of young people who were drinking alcohol; they murdered ten of them. The perpetrators didn’t notice the incongruity of committing a major evil in order to stop the commission of a minor vice; they believed that Allah was going to punish these miscreants by their hands, as the Qur’an says.
So what about Captain Morgan? The key question in this odd incident is why the company decided in the first place to require visitors to declare that they were not Muslim. In the first place, this was certainly an application of Sharia, because it is not illegal for Muslims to drink alcohol in the United States; it is only illegal under Sharia.
But why did Captain Morgan agree to implement Sharia? On that question the rummies are stonewalling, claiming improbably, according to Metro, that “far from being a case of discrimination or an attempt to appease religious zealots, it turns out a technical error was behind the puzzling message.”
Oh, come on, Captain. I’ve had all kinds of technical errors at my website over the years, and none of them ever caused a box to appear that asked visitors to affirm that they weren’t Muslim. Someone plainly did this on purpose. Could it have been because Captain Morgan was threatened? Could someone have contacted the Diageo company, which owns the Captain Morgan brand, and warned them of consequences like those we saw last week in Mozambique if they dared to continue to make alcohol available to Muslims, and didn’t take any steps to make sure it wasn’t sold to them?
It is hard to imagine why else Diageo would have done this. It is just as unlikely as their “technical error” explanation to imagine that they decided suddenly to be solicitous of the moral uprightness of young Muslims, and to take steps to ensure that they didn’t buy their product. But if they did receive threats, Diageo is unlikely ever to reveal them: to do so would be “Islamophobic.” The question going forward is how many other companies are going to start to implement Sharia, backtracking only when caught. How many other companies are going to be quietly strong-armed into falling in line? And will any public officials ever have the courage to acknowledge what is happening, and work to stop it?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.