Drinking alcohol in Islam
Fatwa No: 89774

  • Fatwa Date:26-4-2005 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 18, 1426
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Why was drinking alcohol at the beginning of the Islam? Why is Haraam now? Need Ayah from the Qur'an?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.


At the advent of Islam, the Arabs were addicted to intoxicants to the point that they praised them in their poems. So intoxicants were a part of their social life and the subject of their discussion in their meetings. So it was wisdom that religion first started to soften their hearts with faith, and then gradually informed them that intoxicants were forbidden. This way, the purpose of prohibition will be quickly achieved, and Allaah's Order will be attained. 'Aa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her narrated: "The first thing that was revealed from the Qur'an was a chapter from Al-mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and Hellfire. When the people embraced Islam, the verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: 'Do not drink intoxicants.' people would have said, 'We will never give up intoxicants." [Al-Bukhari]

Furthermore, Al-Bukhari and Muslim may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them reported that Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated: "I was serving intoxicants to the people in Abu Talhah's house  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him when the verse prohibiting intoxicants was revealed, so the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ordered one companion to inform the people about it. Abu Talhah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: "Go out, and find out what is this voice?" So I went out and then informed him that this is a caller who informs the people that intoxicants are now forbidden. Abu Talhah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: "Go and pour it out on the floor." Thus, everyone did so, and intoxicants were flowing down in the streets of Madeenah."

As regards why intoxicants are now forbidden, the answer is that Allaah has forbade it and there is an evidence about this in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah.

The evidence from the Qur'an: Allaah says (which means): {O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al Ansaab*, and Al Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allaah and from prayer. So will you not desist?}[Qur'an 5:90]. [*Al-Ansaab were stone-altars at fixed places or graves, whereon sacrifices were slaughtered on certain occasions in the name of idols, jinn, angels, pious men, saints in order to honour them or to expect some benefit from them].

The above two-verses are an evidence that all kinds of intoxicants are prohibited by many ways, among which the scholars have mentioned the following:

1) It was compared to idol worship.                     

2) Allaah called intoxicants an abomination.

3) Allaah described intoxicants to be among the devil's handy work.

4) Allaah ordered us to desist from intoxicants.

5) Allaah mentioned the harm that intoxicants cause, like enmity, hatred, and they prevent a person from mentioning Allaah.

The evidence from the Sunnah:

The earlier mentioned narration reported by Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him is enough in this regard. There are other evidences, like the narration in which ten people who deal with intoxicants are cursed. [At-Tirmithi]

In addition to this, intoxicants have many religious, social, economic and health disadvantages. If it only causes one to lose his mind, it would have been sufficient to be forbidden. When one loses his mind (when drunk), he acts as a crazy man, and perhaps he would have sex with his mother or daughter without realising what he is doing. When a person consumes intoxicants, it becomes very easy and simple for him to commit any kind of sin, even murder. It is for this reason that 'Uthmaan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him called it the mother of all evils, as reported by An-Nasaa'ee may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) also said the same thing about intoxicants in a narration reported by Ibn Hibbaan and others may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them.

Allaah knows best.

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