I do not know of any organised group of orthodox Imams who say it is okay exactly, but there are good numbers of Muslims who have rationales for drinking and so drink.
The Gulf is a very unusual place. In fact in most Islamic countries in the Maghreb, in Africa, etc alcohol can be obtained. In the Maghreb you can go to the supermarket and buy it and no one asks you for anything of religious identification, and there are bars where you never see any expatriate. It is also true in Lebanon, and even in some places in Egypt (altough some of them in those bars are Christians).
From my experience, Bosnian Muslims were generally not ones to shy away from a stiff drink of slivovica (slivovitz/plum brandy), but I’m not sure how it officially plays into their faith. I assume it’s technically forbidden, but someone with a little more knowledge might be able to chime in.
Alcohol is flatly banned by the Koran, so there is really no way to consume alcohol in a way that is permissible as a religious matter. So by definition there cannot be a “sect of Islam” in which drinking is okay. However, there exist plenty of Muslims who drink. They’re not “modifying” the religion; they’re just not following it, in that particular respect.
I’ve spent some time in Egypt and the attitude of most of the twenty somethings seemed to be that having a beer after a hard day was OK but it was just one beer and that was it. Never saw a drunk person and was careful to limit my intake. Having a beer was done discretly but not in secret as such.
I think there’s quite a popular belief that Sufism (or at least some sects of Sufism) permits the drinking of alcohol due to the use of wine as a metaphor in Sufi poetry and it’s less dogmatic approach. But I think that’s actually not true and Sufis generally observe the prohibition on alcohol just as strictly as other sects of Islam.
That said there are certainly Muslims who drink. For example in Turkey which according to the government is 99.8% Muslim, there’s no problem obtaining alcohol and infact there’s at least one beer company entirely native to Turkey - Efes who are a major brand in that country. They even sponsor sports team and I’d say their advertising is about as ubquitious as Budweiser is in the USA. It’s intersting that it’s still very hard (depending on location) to obtain pork products in Turkey.
He’s joking a little. It’s a reference to a satirical scene in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. There is a group of people listening to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, but they’re in the very back where they can’t hear well. When Jesus says, “blessed are the peacemakers,” some of them mishear it as “blessed are the cheesemakers” and there follows a discussion on exactly what Jesus means by this. Someone suggests that Jesus means that Jesus is not just blessing cheesemakers, but the makers of all dairy products.
I know many, many Muslims who drink alcohol. If you ever get to Istanbul, it has some of the best sidewalk beer bars in the world and many are packed with locals (many of whom are almost certainly Muslims). As a Muslim friend of mine puts it about having a beer every now and then: “that’s between me and God.” Different Muslim majority governments have different laws governing alcohol sales, there is a huge range of attitudes in Islam.
In my experience the best way to answer these questions for yourself is to think:
*“You know what Christianity and Christians is/are like (all of it/them, worldwide)? That’s what Islam/Moslems will almost certainly be like.” *
Of course there are differences. But mostly there are parallels. Sure, alcohol may be flatly banned by the Koran. There are any number of things that are flatly banned by the Bible but which millions of Christians do without a qualm. There are Moslems and Christians of every stripe. People are people and the religions they create for themselves tend to have more in common than in difference.
Doesn’t seem to be that simple. Northern Africa (Mahgreb) are Arab states, but have much more lax rules on Alcohol than most Arab Gulf States. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran are all non-arab and have heavy restrictions on alcohol (completely banned for muslims).
South East Asian muslims are also extremely tolerant, in Indonesia and Malaysia alcohol is freely available to muslims and non-muslims.