This One’s for Tony…

In response to Tony’s query I thought it would be fitting that I provide a little detail regarding alcohol and Islam. So that Tony does not get discouraged by the rather long response I have first clarified Islam’s position on alcohol and for the benefit of those who are further interested I have provided some detail regarding the gradual prohibition of alcohol in Islam. Plus I appreciate your interest Tony and am delighted by the fact that you have read the Koran.

It is rather obvious that humans are the most advanced species that inhabit the planet Earth or at least that is the information that we currently have. Humans have progressed much from their humble beginnings and have continued to achieve the impossible. God refers to man as His vicegerent on Earth, and thus it is our responsibility to uphold the highest moral and ethical standards at all times.

Alcohol, as we all know, is an intoxicating substance. It induces a stupor, rids man of all his natural inhibitions, and is known to “Cloud the Mind”. Man is incapacitated of thinking straight when under influence and partakes in many activities while he is drunk which he may regret once the affects of the alcohol wear off. Most of these activities are not befitting of God’s vicegerent and thus alcohol is strictly prohibited in Islam.

Countless suicides, fatal accidents, driving under the influence incidents, acts of adultery and fornication, take place under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Not only are their social repercussions but the harmful physiological affects of alcohol far out-weigh the few discovered benefits of a drink now and then.

The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Message was not “alcohol in a small amount can be beneficial but large amounts are haraam” as mentioned by Tony. The Hadith related to the consumption of alcohol states that “if it intoxicates in a large amount, it is forbidden even in a small amount.”

I know many people who drink and most of them claim that they can keep their drinking habits under control. However they also agree that many times it is very difficult for them to tell if they are drunk-basically its difficult to pinpoint how much is a little and when they cross their threshold. Therefore Tony, alcohol is completely prohibited in Islam primarily due to its intoxicating nature and the subsequent evils that may arise from being in a drunken stupor. The most important perhaps being that you forget your Creator.

Islam also recognizes the beneficial effects of alcohol that are often cited by many but it still asks us to refrain as is shown by the following verse from the Quran:

“They ask you regarding wine and gambling. Say, in both of them is major sin, and there is some benefit for men, but the sin of them is far greater than benefit”
Surah Bakrah Chapter 2, Verse 219.

Alcohol and the Process of Prohibition in Islam

During the early days of Islam, consumption of liquor, just like other ills and evils of society, was also prevalent. When the Prophet (PBUH) migrated from Makkah to Medina he found that the Medinites were also indulging in drinking. The masses were so attracted by the superficial and deceptive benefits offered by drinking that their minds became oblivious of the harmful effects and the evils lurking within these addictions.

The Prophet (PBUH) was the finest model who set the best example of his sublime characteristic, so much that whatever was yet to be declared haraam, his habit and nature made him detest it from the very outset. Besides him other Sahâbâhs also refrained from consuming alcoholic beverages even when these were Halaal.

On Reaching Medina some of the Sahâbâh realized the evil in liquor. So, Hazrat Umar Farooq and some of the other Sahâbâh approached the Prophet and questioned him regarding alcohol and gambling, which they thought were ruining not only man’s intelligence but also his wealth.

In response to this query, the following verse was revealed and it constituted the first of a series of revelations leading to the final and conclusive verse, which prohibited and declared Haram both gambling and liquor.

“They ask you regarding wine and gambling. Say, in both of them is major sin, and there is some benefit for men, but the sin of them is far greater than benefit”
Surah Bakrah Chapter 2, Verse 219.

Although the above verse does not prohibit alcohol outright, it never the less presents advice for abstaining from the usage of alcohol. This is why some of the Sahâbâh, after hearing this verse immediately stopped consuming alcohol.

On the other hand some of the other Sahâbâhs felt that this verse did not declare alcohol Haram, so they declared that it overtakes full precaution therefore a mediate consumption of alcohol would not be harmful.

However, shortly an incident occurred which brought about a sudden change in the situation. One day, Hazrat Abdur-Rahman Ibn Auf had invited some of his companions, and as was the custom of the Arabs they had consumed alcohol after their needs.

Thereafter, while still in a state of intoxication, the Maghrib Prayer was performed. The Imam who was also drunk made an error in his recitation. Upon this, the second step was taken to prevent the consumption of alcohol, by the revelation of the following verse:

“O Believers’ do not approach Salâh while intoxicated.”
Surah Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 43

This verse now declared alcohol Haraam in clear-cut terms but the consumption was for the duration of Salâh or Prayer times, and at other periods it was still permissible. With this second warning many more of the Sahâbâhs refrained completely from drinking alcohol, reasoning that what good can there be in something that deprives one from Prayer.

There were others however, who drank liquor during the intervening periods of the five prayers until the following incident took place: Usman Ibn Maalik invited a few Sahâbâhs for a meal. After the meal, as was customary liquor was served. Thereafter, they became involved in another Arab custom, reciting poetry praising oneself, family and clan and simultaneously teasing and belittling others who didn’t belong to that group.

During this gathering, Hazrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas recited a few lines of poetry in which he criticized and belittled the Ansars or residents of Medina. Hearing this, an Ansari youth became enraged and threw a bone at him, which inflicted a severe wound on the head of Saad Ibn Waqqas.

He then complained against the youngster to the Prophet, after which he prayed to Allah:

“O Allah! Grant us a clear cut for regarding alcohol.”

In response to this the following verses concerning the complete prohibition of alcohol, were revealed as part of Surah Maidah Chapter 5, Verse 90:

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, – of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.

Allah in his Wisdom firstly disclosed the evils in alcohol, then prohibited it at Prayer times and finally declared it to be haraam.

The above narration has been compiled from the following sources:

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