Can an Islamic State Permit Foreign Hotel Resorts?


This may sound like a silly question, but it came to mind during a brief trip I made earlier this month to the Maldives. The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, and one can see the shari'ah expressed in several of the laws. However, the Maldives' main source of revenue is tourism; western hotel resort chains such as The Four Seasons purchase some of the islands and build lavish resorts on them. Obviously, Islam would not object to the mere building of a hotel, but these hotels could not possibly operate without, for example, serving alcohol or permitting men and women to sunbathe with little clothing by a poolside or on a beach. Why? Because most of the people who pay the big bucks to stay at these reorts are non-Muslim adults who consider things like spas, beach activities, and drinking at fancy bars/restaurants to be the defining moments of such a vacation. Now, Islam might object.

Let us suppose, hypothetically, that the Maldives were a genuine Islamic State. Could it permit resorts engaging in such activities in the interests of maintaining its primary source of revenue? Or, would God expect that, regardless of how small or large the Muslim population of such a republic is, an Islamic state could never permit beach activities (merely because it involves men and women wearing swimming suits in public, in each other's view) or the serving of liquor? Would He then require the Muslims to make the sacrifice: that is, reject the resort companies, forfeit the country's main source of revenue, and get everyone to migrate somewhere else?

As always, I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Omar Sarwar

Question from Singapore

There is no harm in giving permission to foreign companies to open hotels and resorts in a Muslim country. However, such permissions should obviously be subject to the socio-cultural and moral norms that Islam promotes.

Being a Muslim our first and foremost duty is to obey the commandments of Allah without any reservations. No compromise in this regard is commendable. Hence an Islamic state should not sacrifice the basic Islamic principles on the altar of economic interests. The basic goal of Islam i.e. the purification of souls can be achieved only by keeping ourselves from all kinds of sins and by trying our best to surrender before God in each and every situation and circumstances, and you know, circumstances are controlled by God, therefore, it can be hoped that whosoever  tries for complete submission, for him, Allah will pave the way.

My dear brother, nudity and liquor are "contagious diseases" therefore for safeguarding our society these must be curbed in each and every stage. Any allowance in this regard, ultimately, can prove fatal. Thus, in principle, an Islamic state must try its utmost to refrain from giving way to such vices.


Siddiq Bukhary
January 29, 2003

Answer published by Siddiq Bukhary