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Page last edited on 23 April, 2003



O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. Avoid such (abomination) that you may prosper. (Holy Quran, 5:90)

 'Alcohol paralyses the senses, makes one lurch and vomit, extinguishes the feeble glimmer of reason, which flickers in our poor minds. It soon overcomes the strongest man and turns him into a raging beast that with empurpled face and bloodshot eyes, bellows forth oaths and threats against his surroundings and insults imaginary enemies. Never in any animal specie, not among pigs and jackals nor donkeys, is such ignominy to be found. "The ugliest thing in creation is the drunkard, a repulsive being, the sight of whom makes one ashamed to belong to the same living species."

(Dr. Charles Richet of Paris France. Nobel Prize Winner of Physiology)

The demon alcohol affects countless millions. Live are ruined homes broken, marriages wrecked, traffic accidents increased, businesses bankrupted, jails overflowing all because of this dreaded curse.

"He is wise and sensible who subdues his carnal desires and hope for rewards; and he is an ignorant man who followed his lustful appetites, and with all this asks Allah's forgiveness". (Prophet Muhammad.)

The religion of Islam by divine revelation to Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) has strictly prohibited intoxicating beverages.

The Holy Quran says: 

"Intoxicants and gambling are abominations only of Satan's handiwork. Avoid such abominations in order that you may succeed." (Quran 5: 90) 

The astronomical figures relating to the worldwide production of intoxicating beverages and of its consumption is astounding.  Like a surging tidal wave it is sweeping over ever-increasing numbers of helpless and dazed victims, it's tentacles reaching out to encompass every segment of society.  The consumption of intoxicants and the resulting chaos has always reached it is Apex at a time of moral and Spiritual decay.

Prior to the advent of Islam, much of the world was groping in spiritual darkness.  Drunkenness and superstition was the order of the day. Ethical and moral values such as modesty, truthfulness, honesty and justice had no place ill their sic-religious life, as they were morally, spiritually, mentally and socially debased.  Jealousy, hatred, injustice, cruelty, debauchery, incest, drinking and gambling were their life-style.  Humanity had sunk to its lowest ebb of degradation. The world was on the verge of disintegration.  Denison in his, "Emotion as the Basis of Civilization" depicts this period most succinctly:

"The civilized world stood on the verge of chaos Mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism where every tribe and sect was against the next, law and order were unknown. Civilization like a gigantic tree whose foliage had overreached the world stood tottering rotten to the core."

It was from this state of bestiality that Islam came to transform much of the civilized world. It liberated man from the shackles of idolatry, slavery, drunkenness and superstition.  It illumined his pathway with knowledge and restored his dignity.

Mankind is now reverting to conditions similar to that, which prevailed n the days of ignorance, the pre-Islamic period.  Mankind is again turning to intoxicants, declaring it to be a refuge, a source of comfort and succor whenever he feels depressed, despondent, defeated or discouraged.  It is his Idol to whom he turns; it is his False God, giving him a sense of solace and contentment in a world of frustrations and disappointments. This idol has been given many enticing names, and the containers (bottles for beverage) are so devised as to add to this enticement.

Idol-worship does not mean merely setting up of a stone or engraving of sorts and worshipping it.  Turning to intoxicants as one's only refuge as a source of solace and comfort is worshipping a False God. Anything, where the remembrance of God is forgotten, where the Love of God is ignored, where the Justice of God is rejected, becomes a substitute for and is tantamount to idol-worship, or at least worshipping a false god.

Non-Muslim nations are today bemoaning the fact that intoxicants and its resulting curse are their number one social problem.  While they admit of this problem and its seriousness they try to justify the consumption of intoxicants, and whenever anyone becomes a slave of this curse they seek to camouflage the problem by saying, "It is a disease, he has a medical problem", attributing the cause to an excess. Excess or not, alcoholism is not a disease in the medical sense, it is a mental disease.  It is a disease called 'Escapism', wherein God is forgotten and man seeks escape and refuge, in the false bliss of drunkenness.  He flees the frustrations of his daily life, from that which he has not the will to bear, seeking relief in drunkenness.  Millions of men and women have fallen prey to this evil, which plagues the world.  It is a modern day form of Idolatry.  Man has turned to this Idol, his false god, which at first captivates him, then traps, ensnares and then enslaves. He becomes the obedient slave of Satan.

When we view the present world conditions and the conditions prevailing at the advent of Islam. We see many similarities.

The Arabs were a nation steeped in drunkenness.  None would predict a change in their social attitudes.

Suddenly a crier was heard proclaiming in the streets of Medina, "Surely Al Khamer (intoxicants) has been prohibited".

It is related that Anas ibni Malik was serving a specially prepared strong drink of fermented date juice to a group of leading men like Abu Dujana, Abu Ubeida ibni Al-Jarah, Mi'ath ibni Jabal and Abu Talha. As the alcoholic drink started to show its effects on the guests, Anas heard a far away call repeating the command, "Surely Al-Khamr has been prohibited".

Without waiting for anybody to come into the house to ascertain this statement, or for a member of the drinking group to go out for a confirmation of what we have heard, Ana said, we threw away the remaining drinks in our cups and broke the large baked clay pots in which other drinks were being fermented."  Some of the men performed ablution to purify themselves from a drink they had been guiltlessly taking only a few moments before.  Others washed their whole bodies in an act of purification.  They perfumed themselves and walked to the Mosque of Medina to see the Prophet.

Another group of four were enjoying their drinks on a shady sandy patch when one of their friends who had personally heard the Prophet reciting the Quranic verses forbidding the intake of Kharm brought the news to them.  As he described it, one of them who was gulping his drink at that particular moment in which he heard the Quranic command, pressed the cup against his mouth as a blood-letter does when he sucks the blood out of somebody's wound with his specialized cup.  But instead of sucking, he did this in an effort to expel the Khamr back into the cup.  Another who was holding his cup half full tilted it and poured the drink on the sand. They then untied the mouth of their large skin and their stock of strong drink disappeared like magic in the hot thirsty desert sand.

The news spread fast from house to house and as the call, "Surely Al-Chamber has been forbidden" echoed through the corners of the blessed city, large clay pots and skins full of fermented date-juice, honey and grape were broken or emptied in every house till the streets of Madina ran with little rivers of Khamr as a testimony to the greatest anti-alcoholism movement that humanity has ever witnessed.

In the Mosque of Madina, the Prophet, his handsome face expressing an air of peaceful and deep meditation, recited the verses of the Holy Quran proclaiming to humanity the banning of all types of Khamr and gambling. A large group of the faithful listened attentively in transcendental silence.  Unlike the formal pedantic language of law, the verses of the Holy Quran make their commandments in a poetic untranslatable Arabic symphony the very words of which bring the eloquent Arabs to tearful submission.

"O you who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are, infamy of Satan's handiwork.  Leave it aside in order that you may succeed. Satan seeks only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and turn you from remembering Allah and from prayer. Will you not then desist. [Holy Quran 5:90=91]

When the Holy Prophet finished his recitation the group of faithful listeners replied to this Quranic Revelation with determined voices, we have desisted Allah", we have desisted O our God".

The Prophet then walked with his beloved Companions Abu Bakr and Umar to a predesignated part of the city where other groups of people were told to bring their store of Khamr.  Do you know what this is"' Prophet Muhammad asked the crowd, pointing to the skins and large leather pots full of alcoholic drink. "Yes O Messenger of Allah" the crowd chorused "this is Khamr" , 'You said the truth", the Prophet replied, and then he proclaimed his famous Hadith, "Surely Allah has cursed Al-Khamr and cursed the one who brews it and the one for whom it is brewed, the one who drinks it and the one who serves it, the one who carries it and the one for whom it is carried, the one who buys and the one who eats (profits from) it's price.

He then ordered a sharp knife with which he cut open the cool skins and leathers containers so that the liquid burst out and flooded the soil.

He refused to accept the assistance offered by Umar in piercing the skins and insisted on doing the whole job with his blessed hands.

One of his companions said that those skins and containers might be of use in keeping liquids other than khamr and urged against their destruction.  The Prophet had always preached against extravagance and misuse and destruction of useful property.  He had always preached for saving.  Thus, he once emphasized the virtue of saving by saying that a man should save in the use of water even on the bank of a running river. In spite of this he continued cutting open the skins and replied with a tinge of emotion in his gentle rather husky voice, "yes, it is true (they may be of use) but I surely do this to express my anger against something that Allah has cursed.

Wine merchants who brought their commodity to Madina from places as far away as Syria, submitted to the new commandment.  They condemned their precious drink. They could neither sell it nor drink it nor even give it away.  It had been banned and cursed and as practicing Muslims who had already made heavy financial sacrifices to follow the new religion they found no psychological resistance in destroying or throwing away what Allah had cursed.

In a matter of hours a whole city-state had become abstinent and the most successful campaign that had ever been launched by man against alcohol dependence was miraculously achieved.

How beautiful and decisive the Command of God, like a fresh breeze it cleared the minds of alcoholic stupor, no loop-holes for dispute or misunderstanding. Not how much liquor is safe, not liquor occasionally or in moderation. The command of God is clear, simple and direct. Intoxicants are forbidden to the believers. Thus once and for all times the great evil of alcohol was uprooted from among the Muslims.

There are many concerned people in the non-Muslim society who have marveled and wondered at this great and sudden transformation as witnessed in Madina 1400 years ago.

A nation given to drunkenness, renounced once and for all times the drinking of any alcoholic beverage.  In the wake of this, gambling, idolatry and superstition were also eradicated. Compare this to the modern nations of the West who are today spending millions of dollars trying to stem the tide of the consumption of alcohol, and to no avail. If anything the consumption is increasing.

All mankind would do well to hearken to the words of that illustrious Prophet Muhammad [PBUH) who said:

"A thing which is intoxicating if used in a big or small way is (Haraam) evil."

The lesson to be learned is that you cannot legislate morals. The only way to eradicate the evil of intoxicants is through religious conviction.  Religion has to speak out vehemently and unequivocally against this evil.

ISLAM is the only religion, which has taken a firm stand against this evil. A true believer will not seek to break the Divine Command, because he is aware that God sees all and God knows all.

The only solution to this pressing social problem lies in Islam. In the knowledge and fear of God's wrath and in prayer, This is the only path of salvation. Fear of God's displeasure and in the spiritual help, which comes through prayer.

An equally great achievement for Islam in the pioneer Muslim states of Madina was the historically established fact that the number of relapses among the abstinent addicts and heavy drinkers was negligible. Muslim historians and Sirah and Hadith writers were anxious to document every minor detail in the life of the Prophet including even such highly personal information as his sexual relations with his wives, the way he washed his body and the foods he preferred.  It is therefore unlikely that such important incidents like his public punishment of a drunken person could escape their records, but only seven such cases were reported.

Taking the astounding figures of relapses among modern treated alcoholics, this figure may be viewed by modern psychiatrists as representing an even greater success than the phenomenon of mass abstinence itself.

In Islam no liquor of any kind or of any nature, no matter how mild is permitted, and no Muslim would entertain for a moment to drink liquor. However, I might add that as in any society there are always the backsliders, those who fall by the way and as a result commit sin.

If I may elaborate upon this subject further, I would like to point out for your information that it is not only in Islam that liquor is prohibited.  In Judaism, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) spoke out against liquor and in Christianity, the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) did not change the rules; but rather "came to confirm the law."    Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, speaking of liquor, that everything intoxicating is forbidden and everything intoxicating is fermented.

The Holy Quran says: 

"Strong drinks are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork, leave it aside in order that you may succeed." 

The Old and the New Testament also refers to liquor using the following terms:

There are eleven (11) different Hebrew words in the Torah (Old Testament) which have been translated "wine" and there are five (5) Greek words in the New Testament translated Wine".  The Hebrew words are: Asis, Chamar, chemer, Enab, Mimsak, Shekar, Shemar, Tirosh or Tiyrowish, Yahyeen and Yeqeb.

In the Torah (O.T.) of the eleven words which have been translated as "wine" words are repeated. Tiyrowish used forty times means freshly squeezed out, or unfermented juice.  Yehyeen, which appears one hundred and thirty three (133) times means to be effervescent or fermented. Whenever these two words appear, the word Tiyrowish is always associated with some happy occasion, and when the word Yahyeen occur it is associated with a warning or a curse.  The Prophet Moses (p.b.u.h.) declared: "Their wine (Yahyeen) is as the poison of the serpents and the cruel venom of the asps." (Deut. 32:33).

God threatened Aaron and his sons if they drank wine (spelled Yahyeen): Do not drink wine or strong drink." (Leviticus. 10:9).

Isaiah pronounced: "Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine 5:11: 'Woe to come upon those who made, sold or were mighty to drink wine and men of strength to mingle strong drink." (the spelling Yahyeen) (Isaiah 5:22).

God through Habakkuh pronounces 'Woe to him that giveth his neighbor drink that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunk also." (spelled Yahyeen) (Habakkuh 2:15)

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portions of the King' s meat nor with the wine which they drank (spelled Yahyeen). Daniel requested of the King pulse to eat (vegetables) and water to drink, this was granted. (Daniel 1:8)

Of the two words translated as wine in the New .Testament. two are repeated, GLeukos and Oinos. Oinos properly translated means fresh juices from the grape and Gleukos a sweetened juice means wine. When Jesus (p,b.u,h,) was reported as changing water into wine and on other similar occasions, he is reported as using the word oinos, meaning fresh fruit juice not Gleukos, the fermented juice.

A Muslim cannot accept the position that any of the prophets sent by God to mankind, could have themselves advocated or permitted anything other than good for their followers.  All the prophets were sent by the One and same Almighty God, the Creator of all. The prophets themselves were all truthful and the word of God was the same in essence to all. 


1 Anas ibn Malik as quoted by ibn Jareer in.ibn Katheer, Tafseer Al·Quran Al-Azeem. Vol. 2, Dar Al-Fikr. Beirut. 1970. pp. 638-639. 

2 Al-Khamr as used in the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith of the Prophet means any material which causes intoxication. It comes from the Arabic word Yakhmur which means to cover or to curtail. Al·khamr is so called because if covers or curtails the proper functioning of the mind. It is. commonly used as a synonym for wine, or alcoholic drinks because there were the only intoxicating material used by the Arabs at the time of Prophet Mohammed. However the Prophet has explicitly brought out this Out this general meaning of ( khamr in his famous Hadith quoted by Salim ibn Abdullah ibn Umer,"All intoxicants are khamr and all types ol khamr are forbidden": Sunan ibn Maja. Volume 2. Isa Alhalabi Publishers, Cairo, n.d.,Page 112. In this study, the word khamr will be used in both meanings.

3 Expanded from the story of the father of Abu Breda as quoted by ibn Jareer, in ibn Katheer. Op.cit.. Vol. 2. p. 641.

4 The fact that khamr ran along the streets of Madina is quoted by Hammad ibn Zayd ibni Haritha. . Also see Ibni Katheer Op. cil.. vol. 2. P. 638.  

5 Surah V, verses 90·91.(All translations or the Qur'anic verses in this study are taken or adopted from M.M. Pickthall. The meaning of the Glorious Quran. Mentor Book. New York)

6 Quoted by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbil. ibn Katheer, op. cit, vol. 2. p. 636.

7 Quoted by Abdullah Ibn Umar.lbn Katheer. ibid, p.. 640-M1. 

8 Hadith quoted by Abdullah ibn Umar:see Sunan Ibni Maja, op. cit, vol. 1, p. 146.

9 Hadith quoted by Abdullah Ibn Umar, Ibn Katheer, op. cir. p. 640 - 41.

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* pbuh - Peace be upon him; It is a Muslim practise to convey prayers of peace whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets is taken.

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