Taxis & passengers carrying alcohol

A few thoughts on taxi drivers carrying passengers whose possessions include alcohol

Someone asked about the legal status of Muslim taxi drivers carrying passengers whose possessions included alcohol. Some

Here are a few thoughts on the issue:

While it is valid to be hired to transport alcohol to be poured out, it is not valid to be hired to transport it from house to house (Zakariya al-Ansari, Asna al-Matalib,. 2:413) – and, presumably, other destinations where consumption is the expected outcome.

As for transporting a passenger whose belongings include alcohol: it could be unlawful only if one knew that alcohol is involved. There is room to argue that it is lawful since one’s intention is to transport the passenger, not the alcohol. Furthermore, since the alcohol is already in the passenger’s possession, in transporting the person to their house or hotel, one is aiding them in drinking in private – the very place where non-Muslim residents of the Islamic state are permitted to drink.

If the driver becomes aware of the alcohol after agreeing to carry the passenger, the driver would be sinless and, at most, the portion of the fare corresponding to transporting the alcohol would be voided. Since passengers with and without bags are usually charged the same amount, I think it is easy to argue that the alcohol and other baggage are transported gratis, so the driver would lose nothing.

Declaring this last one unlawful on the grounds that it is unlawful to aid others in carrying out the unlawful seems preposterous.

Likewise, forcing a Muslim to transport alcohol – on its own or with a passenger – on the grounds that religious coercion is unlawful, is, itself, an act of religious coercion. A Muslim refusing to transport a passenger carrying alcohol is no more an act of coercion than restaurants refusing to serve customers without shoes or shirts, nor a Christian school refusing to hire a teacher who is vocally anti-Christian. A Muslim driver refusing transport is not coercion; nor would requiring the passenger to discard his alcohol since the passenger is free to find a cab driver without a no-alcohol policy. While this may be a violation of company policy, it is not an act of religious coercion.

This concerns the legal status of individual actions. A fatwa would need to consider the bigger picture.

As I wrote at the beginning: this is just a short meditation on the subject. A shorter route exists in invoking the Hanafi opinion concerning invalid transactions in non-Muslim lands.

And Allah knows best.

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