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Sunday, March 26, 2006


The prohibition on alcohol and other intoxicating liquors and drugs is mentioned in three different chapters in the Quran. The importance of this prohibition becomes self-evident when it is studied in its context. Because the context gives us the reason why it is important for a Muslim to shun drinking & drugs?

The Quran, unlike religious scriptures, is a book of universal truths and objective realities. The primary objective of Quran is to establish a social system which provide a conducive environment for the free, all-round and harmonious development of human person. For this purpose it has its own values and principles. It wants its followers not to adopt these values blindly because, in this way the Quranic objective will not be realized. Therefore, it is important to follow the Quran with understanding and knowledge.

Drinking wine and use of drugs is a negative trait of human personality. Besides other wrongs, it impairs ones ability to think rightly and make sound judgement.

The Quran, for the first time, discussed this issue in verse (2:219) amidst its value system, which is explained in the preceding and succeeding verses. Here it is brought up in a question form: "Yas'aloonaka 'anil Khmer - they ask you concerning

Among the 'Jahiliya Arabs' drinking was in vogue and was not considered a bad habit. The social system of the time had no higher objective other than the gratification of man's animal needs (eating & drinking). In fact, even today it does not make any
difference to those who has no aim or objective in life except eating and drinking. But Quranic value system is different. It wants to raise up a community which should have the ability to think above thier animal instincts and work for the betterment of
mankind sensibly and responsibly.

The Quranic system was in its initial stages when first prohibition concerning wine was proclaimed. During that period people were learning the values and principles of the Quran and were moving from an individualistic life style to a collective life style. So, when they asked concerning wine and gambling, Quran answered them politely;

"Say: 'in them is great sin, and some profit for
people; But the sin is greater than the profit..."

This answer might not have convinced many to shun drinking wine or other intoxicants but, at least, it should have created awareness in them regarding their social responsibility and obligations in the New Social Set-up.

Second time, this issue is discussed in verse 4:43. At that stage the process of education and learning was transforming into Party discipline and organization. The prophet (pbuh) founded The Institution of Mosque as a center of activities for the Muslims. They assemble there to celebrate God's Praise and to deliberate on issues facing the Islamic State and to find solutions in the light of Quran through mutual consultation.

Before the prohibition of intoxicants altogether was promulgated, it was atleast unbecoming that people should come to Mosque in a state of intoxication. For adoration of God, it is only right that we should collect our whole mind and approach God in a spirit of reverence. This condition was equally important for the healthy debates during mutual consultation on important State's Issues. So, Muslims were told not to attend Mosque in a state of intoxication or a dazed state of mind:

"Ya yuallazeena Amanoo la Taqrabu al-Salata wa untum
Sukaara hatta T'alamu ma Toquloon...O ye who believe!
Approach not prayers (Mosque) with a mind befogged
until ye can understand all that ye say---" (4:43)

This promulgation (forbidance from assembly in the Mosque) was sufficiently strong and should have proved effective for many to give up drinking. Becuase, no one would have liked to be ostracized and debbared of his right to assembly and freedom of expression.

Education and organization are two important phases in the foundation of an Islamic State. During this period people are educated and disciplined to move from an individualistic to a collective way of life. They learn what is good for them and what is bad ? What they have to do by themselves and what would be enforced by the State ? They become fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.

The final prohibition on drinking and other social evils was promulgated in verses 5:93-94. By this time, the Divine Value System (al-Deen) was complete and in place (5:4). The Islamic State had become enough powerfull to establish its writ and pursue its policies. It was clearly proclaimed that every one should obey God and obey the Messenger (represented by the Islamic State) and beware of anything which is evil (5:95). They should behave as a responsible citizen and avoid all acts that cause enmity and hatred among the Muslims or hinder the development of human person.

In the words of Quran;

"Ya ayullahzeena Aamanu innamal Khamru wal Maseru wal
Ansabu wal Azlamu rijsum min amal-e-shaytan
fajtanebuho la'lkum Tuflehoon - O ye who believe!
Intoxicant and gambling, (dedication of) stones and
(divination by) arrows, are an abomination; of Satan's handiwork; Eschew them so that you can prosper (grow)".5:93

"Inna ma yureedu-shaytanu unyuqeha bainakum al-adawa
wal baghdaa fil khamre wal masere wa yassudakum 'ann
zikrallah wa 'ann-e-salat fa hal antum Muntahoon -
Satan's plan is to excite enmity and hatred among you,
with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer; Will you then abstain ? (5:94)

We have stated earlier that the primary objective of Quran is to establish a society which is conducive for the free, all-round and harmonious development of human person. God has gifted man with all the potentialities to become a superior and more usefull creature in nature. In order, to realize his potentialities man need a properous and peaceful society. The above quoted verses tell that drinking, gambling and other social evils creat enmity and hatred among the people and inhibit the growth and
development of their human traits. They are subdued and overwhelmed by the animal instincts heavily. Therefore, these should be given up deliberately.

It is argued by some that drinking was not banned in the earlier societies. But, we know that the message of God did not change. It is stated in Quran;

"We have sent thee inspiration (Waheee) as We sent it
to Noah and the Messengers after him..." (4:163).

In another verse it is said;

"The same value system (Deen)is prescribed for you as
that which He enjoined on Noah..." (42:13).

This proves that if the Quran prohibits drinking then it should be prohibited in the earlier scriptures too. Because the Quran is nothing but a continuity of the earlier scriptures in purest form. Also, it can be argued that as the human nature and life objectives had remained the same down through the history, therefore, drinking was as much harmful to the development of human person then as it is today.

According to the Quran it is human person 'Al-Nafs' that matters. The one who succeed to develop it properly will be the winner and the one who failed to do so will be the looser (91:7-10).

So, O the believers;

"Be apprehensive of God and His Laws as much as you
can; listen and obey; and keep up opened your wealth
for the benefit of society (Anfaq); it will benefit
your own soul 'Nafs'. And those saved themselves from
the covetousness of their own souls - they are the
ones that achieve properity (sound and healthy growth
of their person)." (64:15)

Bashir Abid


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