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This article is written by Souradh C. Valson from Government Law College Thiruvananthapuram and discusses the stand taken by Islam concerning the consumption of alcohol and drugs.


Prophet Muhammed was sent to the earth to save humanity from their misdeeds. Alcohol addiction was quite prevalent among Arabs. They couldn’t stop themselves from the consumption of alcohol, and under its influence, would commit several grievous offences and misdeeds. However, there was a small population in the pre-Islamic society, who completely opposed the idea of alcohol and other intoxicants to protect and preserve their social dignity and honour. Historical figures in the pre-Islamic society such as Zayd ibn-Amr-ibn An-Nufail loathed the idea of alcohol consumption.

Before the dawn of Islam, Arabs indulged in wine and other different substances. They cherished it and even wrote poetry in praise of it. To declare the importance and honour of wine in their lives, the Arabs gave many different names to wine.  The trade of wine was a flourishing and profitable business for the Arabs. The story of  Imri’u al-Qais, the renowned Arab poet shows how integral wine was to the pre-Islamic Arab community. When Imri’u al-Qais was told about the murder of his father, he was able to stop the wine he was drinking or leave his friends and expressed the famous words: “Wine today, business tomorrow.”

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Even after the arrival of the prophet and declaration of the two ayahs (the first two stages in wine prohibition), many of the prophet’s companions couldn’t stop the consumption of wine. They justified their actions by taking advantage of the fact that the two ayahs did not impose absolute restrictions on the consumption of wine. It was only after the revelation of the third ayah, the consumption of wine was completely prohibited.

It is a well-known fact that Muslims don’t consume alcohol. They don’t even consume foods containing ethanol and also don’t use perfumes with alcohol. Generally, Muslims stay away from all intoxicants.

Alcohol in Islam

The word kamr (خمر) is the Arabic word for wine, alcohol that is derived from grapes. Alcohol is considered as haram or unlawful and its consumption is considered as impure or najis. The Quran specifically prohibits the consumption of alcohol (5:90). Even the consumption of a minor quantity that doesn’t produce the intoxicating effects is also prohibited.

  • Prophet Muhammed has said that the consumption of any quantity of alcohol, derived from both grapes and date palms or raisins are also prohibited.
  • In the beginning, the Muslims were given a warning, which prohibited them from attending the prayers after the consumption of alcohol. (Quran 4:43)
  • Later, in a different verse, it is shown that the Prophet Muhammed was revealed about Alcohol. He stated that, although alcohol had certain medical qualities, the negative aspects of alcohol are much more severe than its positive impacts. (Quran, 2:219)
  • In (Quran, 5:90-91), intoxicants and gambling are called “abominations of Satan’s handiwork”, which was aimed to warn righteous Muslims to not turn away from prayers and forget god. Therefore, Muslims were ordered to abstain from the consumption of alcohol.
  • Prophet Muhammed also advised his companions to abstain from alcohol. He advised his followers to avoid the consumption of alcohol in any form, even the small quantities that are used in the preparation of some dishes.

The reasons why Muslims don’t drink alcohol

Alcohol and prayer don’t mix

Prayer or salat is an important part of Muslim society. All Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day. “wudhu” (woo-dhoo) is a  necessary ritual, done before the Image Source: prayer, which involves ablution by water to help the devotees to connect to creation, environment, and health. Islamic scholars believe that the presence of alcohol in the room of prayer does not affect the prayers unless that person repents.

Alcohol is addictive

Although the early Muslims recognised the health benefits of drinking, Prophet Muhammed compared alcohol to disease, also cautioning the Muslim community that there is no cure to what God has forbidden. Even outside of the Muslim community the addictive nature of alcohol is well known. Like other substances, the dependency on alcohol depends on the frequency of intake and the will power of a person.

Consumption of alcohol clouds the intelligence

Khamr also mentions how the consumption of alcohol clouds the intellect of people and makes the process of distinguishing between right and wrong difficult. The concept of the Muslim faith is based on and revolves around good judgment, rational thought, and intellect. Activities that prevent this are forbidden under Muslim law, another reason why Muslims don’t drink.

Drinking alcohol sends the wrong message

The Islamic law states that it is permissible to sit at a restaurant which serves alcohol  but a Muslim follower, should never sit at a table that serves alcohol.

The reason for such prohibition is that, in restaurants and bars that serve liquor, there will be a tendency to consume alcohol. Consuming alcohol in the presence of children encourages them to drink in the future. Mature Muslim should act as good role models for young children and guide them to live a moral life.

Both contemporary and classical Islamic scholars have discussed and explained the reasons why the presence in an alcoholic zone is as bad as the consumption of alcohol.

In the words of Dr. Abdullah bin Bayyah

“The difference between [prohibitions in environment] and [prohibitions related to the end goals] is that while both are forbidden, the former is considered lesser in weight because it is related to causes, whereas the latter is related to an actual forbidden act. Thus, sitting at the table, although not the same as drinking, could lead to it whereas drinking in itself is forbidden.”

It makes people forget

All intoxicating substances such as wine, gin, whiskey, drugs, or beer have negative impacts on the behavior and faculties of human beings. Indulgence is an intoxicating substance that makes the user forget his prayers and strays away from the path outlined in the Quran.

Alcohol makes people do criminal activity

Islam considers alcohol as the “key of all evil”(hadith). Although this is a controversial statement, the reason behind this is the close association of criminal activities with alcohol. The consumption of alcohol makes the commission of offences easier as the user loses their inhibition.

However, the Quran does not dismiss the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes and explains in (2:219):

“(in alcohol) there is a great sin, and (some) benefits, but the sin outweighs its benefit)”.

Consumption of halal wine

  • Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used wine to disinfect wounds, the Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir recommended the use of wine for better digestion. While discussing the negative aspects of wine, we shouldn’t dismiss the nutritional value of wine and accept that wine is not totally evil. Recent studies have shown us that moderate consumption of wine reduces the risk of peptic ulcers.
  • The Quran (47:15) promises the people who obey and protect God’s law on Earth a paradise that contains rivers of milk, wine, and honey that doesn’t intoxicate.
  • Recently, entrepreneurs have produced halal-certified wines that can be consumed by Muslims. For example, In 2003, the Islamic council certified the  Australian Patritti Wines of Dover Gardens and Halal Champ Wine.
  • More liberal schools of thought in Islam accept the use of deodorants and creams containing alcohol as they are synthetic alcohol and not khamr. However, in countries like Saudi Arabia, the use of plant-based fuel is not permitted because of the presence of ethanol.
  • A more recent fatwa (Islamic ruling) accepted the use of non-wine in alcohol as perfumes and soaps, as long as it is not used for the purpose of intoxication. However, the common consensus is completely avoiding the use of alcohol.

Buying and selling of wine

Hazrat Anas, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammed said the following people are placed in the same position as a person who consumes alcohol:

Producers of wine, those who supply the wine, the carrier of wine, the person who takes another to alcohol, the vintage vendors of wines, Wine shoppers, the persons for whom wine is purchased.

Whenever something is considered haram, it is considered to be harmful to both the individuals’ health and the purity of society. This places a special responsibility on Muslims to not only restrict oneself from the consumption of alcohol but shouldn’t encourage others to consume alcohol.

Dealing with alcohol also comes under the category of haram. Prophet Mohammed directed all Muslims to stay away from all activities related to the wine and alcohol industry such as pressing wine, selling, buying, serving, or drinking it. This was done to reduce the impact of harm resulting from alcohol. Basically, drinking alcohol is a choice in which Muslims don’t indulge in.

Position on drugs

Drugs are considered as the enemy of every religion. They have destructive effects on life and create unrest in society. Drugs have various effects on the human body. With the gradual use of drugs, the user’s become more addicted to it and cause damage to body organs; loss of digestion, less food intake, ablution of eyes, and drying up of the mouth and throat are all side effects of drug intake.

Poor nutrition leads to cough, permanent cough, tuberculosis, and various other diseases. Using heavy drugs like cocaine and heroin increases the risk of mortality and makes the user prone to severe diseases like AIDS, which passes through the syringe. Millions of youth around the world use addictive substances like drugs, apart from the visible side effects, it also causes damage to brain cells, which cannot be cured by any medicine.

Prophet Muhammed worked extensively to free society from the clutches of drugs. He proposed that, if the use and existence of a drug are unavoidable in a society, it leads to loss of social power and a decrease of values.  

(Mistak: 2/329) states that  “The substance of every addict is alcohol and the thing made by all addicts is prohibited. Whoever drinks alcohol in the world and dies without repentance, he will be deprived of the divine drink “. Subsequently, the consumption of all intoxicants was prohibited by Islam, now it includes street drugs and other drugs.

Islam considers the use of all intoxicants as haram. Recreational drugs are now common in society despite the ban by religion. Muslims are also likely to be influenced by marijuana (cannabis), herbal hookah (a smoking pipe with tobacco), and hashish.

The use, trade, and promotion of drugs are considered haram in Islam.

Punishment for intoxication

A completely drug-free society cannot be created without the enforcement of strict laws. Mere advice won’t redeem the society from drug addiction. So the position of prophet Muhammed on this issue was rigid.

In Sura Maida 90-91, Allah has declared that: 

 “O you who believe! Wine, gambling, idols, and lottery are all of Satan’s work. You refrain from it. Hopefully, you can succeed. Surely Satan wants to create animosity and animosity among you through alcohol and gambling and creates obstacles in you from remembering and praying from Allah. So will you refrain from these things?”

This clearly shows that the Muslims viewed partaking in alcohol and drugs as the act of Satan to drive the righteous away from god. In (Meshkat-3639) Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah RA, the messenger of Allah said that persons who drink intoxicants will have to drink the ‘Tinatul khabal’, the sweat of people in hell. In (Meshakat-3616) also prescribes extra punishment for those who consume intoxicants.


How to prevent alcoholism

Social resistance

Islam tells its followers, the best way to overcome the urges of alcohol is by social resistance and urges followers and society to view the consumption of drugs and alcohol in the eyes of hatred.

Increasing awareness

Increasing awareness about the ill effects of alcohol and drugs is necessary to stop its influence on people. The economic, physical, family and religious aspects of the negative effects of drug use are necessary to build awareness among the youth.

Doctors initiatives

Doctors play a crucial role in spreading awareness among the youth, educating them about the negative effects of drugs.

Alternative attitudes

Although the majority of Muslims refrain from alcohol, other groups of people believe that consuming alcohol is a personal decision. In countries like Pakistan and India, wealthy people drink alcohol to display their money and status. Some Islamic scholars believe that the consumption of alcohol made other than from grapes and dates are permissible.


The consumption of alcohol was quite common in the pre-Islamic world, after the advent of the prophet Muhammed, consumption of alcohol was considered morally wrong. There are many reasons why Muslims don’t drink alcohol. However, many modern Muslims are of the view that drinking alcohol is a personal choice and doesn’t affect their relations with Allah.


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