Muslim patrol, Muslim vigilante, Muslim police, or religion enforcers are now in news in Great Britain. It is said that groups of young Muslims are patrolling areas and forcing non-Muslims to stop coming to their area if they consume alcohol or dress in an inappropriate manner. Comments such as “we do not respect those who do not believe in Allah,” “We do not care what your belief system is” and “Go away from our area because you are not Muslim,” are clearly heard in the videos posted by such groups on YouTube. Should we Muslims call such groups, racists, bigots, fanatics and anti-Islam, should we remain quiet or should we support them?
Before we attempt to answer these questions, let us modify the situation slightly. Change Muslim patrol to British nationalist patrol or Christian evangelist vigilante and imagine these vigilantes going from the streets to streets in areas per-dominantly populated by Muslims or Hindus or immigrants and demanding that the residents either leave or adopt their customs or religion or the way of life. They ask Hindus to eat beef and Muslims to eat pork and ask women to remove their hijab if they have to live in their country or they demand that Muslims should not make loud their call to prayer.
Every one of us would feel repulsed. We would call such acts racist, bigoted and fanatic. So why do we have to apply different standards to these identical situations. One may argue that alcohol is “haram” (forbidden) in Islam and Muslims have a duty to enforce this divine command in their lives. So apply it in your life and when you get the mandate by the people on a clear manifesto to ban consumption of alcohol openly in your country or your town, do it. But to arbitrarily force people to change their lifestyle is against all that Islam stands for. The Quran recognizes people’s right to reject God and adopt a lifestyle contrary to the divine teachings and guidance. A Muslim cannot be a Muslim unless he believes in the validity of the Quranic teachings and makes efforts to live by them.
So respecting and protecting others’ belief systems and style of life is part of the Quranic mandate. Those who are making comments that we do not care about your belief system are in fact making a mockery of divine guidance.
If these vigilantes are serious about Islam’s prohibitory guidance regarding alcohol, or improper dress or a lifestyle that harms the people in general, they should try to educate people and through an electoral process win over the electorates to their perspectives and policies. Even then, from a sharia perspective, it would be wrong to impose one's religious beliefs upon others.