It has been claimed by many writers that "Khamr" (intoxicants like alcohol, drugs .. etc) has not been completely prohibited in the Quran, but only discouraged. Others, mainly the followers of hadith, have claimed that alcohol has been prohibited in stages!
This article aims at presenting the Quranic evidence which categorically prohibits drinking (and all intoxicants) and that God's Law is given decisively, and not given in stages.
The article also aims at presenting the reader with all the medical facts related to the damage caused to the human body through alcohol consumption.
The prohibition of intoxicants in the Quran is given through what is called "syllogism". Syllogism is a form of reasoning where we have two given propositions called the premises, and together they lead to a third and equally valid conclusion.
1- All men are mortal (premise)
2- Caesar is a man (premise)
3- Caesar is mortal (conclusion)
With regards to the prohibition of intoxicants in the Quran we read the following two premises:
1- "God prohibited all "ithm" (sin)" 7:33 (premise)
2- "They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross "ithm" (sin), and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." 2:219 (premise)
3- Conclusion: Intoxicants, when used in any way which induces "Ithm" (sin), as in getting drunk or taking drugs to get high, would by definition be prohibited by God since all "ithm" is prohibited by God.
In contrast, when intoxicants are used in the many ways which provide benefits to mankind without leading to sin, they would not be prohibited (like use of intoxicants in medicine, surgery, cleaning, etc). This is obvious from the fact that God says that there are benefits too from intoxicants. God would not say there are benefits for people if these benefits were prohibited.
The sinful ways of using intoxicants are further given light in the Quran in 5:90 which tells us that intoxicants and gambling are works of the devil. Also in 5:91 where we are told that the devil entices people to use intoxicants and gambling to spread animosity and hatred between people and to distract the human from commemorating God.
Thus it is these sinful uses of intoxicants alone (which contain "ithm"), which are prohibited. Obviously if intoxicants are used in surgery it is not spreading animosity or hatred among people, it would infact be helping people, and thus would not be prohibited.
Commentary on 5:90
[5:90] O you who believe, intoxicants, gambling, altars and arrows of chance are afflictions which are the work of the devil; you shall stay away from him, that you may succeed.
Some scholars have made referrence to 5:90 which speaks about intoxicants, and claimed that the word ‘ijtanibuh’, which is used in this verse, simply means to avoid or to stay away from, but it does not carry the strength of an absolute prohibition.
However, an analysis of the words in 5:90 tells us that this is an inaccurate deduction. In 5:90 God speaks of four afflictions which are the work of the devil, they are:
Intoxicants, Gambling, Alters and Arrows of chance.
This is then followed by the word ‘ijtanibuh’.
Immediately we note that the word ‘ijtanibuh’ is in the singular, it also comes after the mention of the devil.
It is thus clear that it could not be referring to all four afflictions (plural) but can only be referring to what came immediately before it, that is, the devil.
If it were referring to all the four afflictions, the word to be used would have been ‘ijtanibuhum’ (plural).
Thus the correct meaning is:
- Intoxicants, gambling, alters and arrows of chance are afflictions which are the work of the devil.
This is then followed by the command from God to:
- Stay away from him (the devil), in order to succeed.
Those who claim that drinking was prohibited in stages, or that it was permitted until the revelation of the Quran, show their ignorance with God's unchangeable law (33:62).
It is well known that alcohol drinking was prohibited in the previous scripture as well, and not only with the advent of the Quran. In the Bible we read:
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise"(Proverbs 20:1).
"Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder"(Proverbs 23:30,31)
The harm of alcohol on the human body
1- Alcohol and Liver Problems
Over the long term, even a drink or two a day can result in abnormal liver functions. Over the years this can result in permanent liver damage, and consequently total liver failure. Liver failure leads to death.
Unfortunately, stopping drinking cannot reverse the damage. Liver problems may show up a number of years after stopping drinking. Alcohol may cause Cirrhosis (liver failure), which may not show symptoms for years.
2- Alcohol boosts Esophageal Cancer Risk
Drinking when combined with smoking can increase risks for esophageal cancer by more than 100-fold, an international team of researchers report. The team estimates that "up to 90% of esophageal cancers in men could be prevented if these habits could be abated," (Report in the August issue of the International Journal of Cancer).
Esophageal cancer remains one of the leading digestive-tract cancers, killing close to 9,000 Americans every year. Experts have long linked smoking and drinking with the development of this lethal cancer.
3- Alcohol and breast cancer
Studies indicate that women who drink even one or two drinks per day have an increased risk of breast cancer
4- Alcohol boosts toxic levels
Consistent high intake of alcohol causes toxicity to many of the organ systems, especially the liver and the pancreas
5- Drinking and heart problems
Those who drink have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption can damage the muscle of the heart, impairing its ability to pump blood, leading to a chronic condition called 'alcoholic cardiomyopathy'. This in turn may cause chronic congestive heart failure.
Several medical studies in recent years have been given widespread publicity because they seemed to substantiate the idea that moderate consumption of alcohol reduced the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
However, antioxidants, the beneficial ingredient in alcohol, can be gotten without the risks of alcohol by eating deeply-coloured fruits and vegetables (red or purple grapes, tomatoes, etc.).
The polyphenols present in grapes are indeed protective against heart disease and many forms of cancer, yet it is not necessary to ferment the grapes to get this benefit.
6- Alcohol and Weight Gain
Alcohol is a major cause of obesity for several reasons. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7. Thus drinking consumes significantly more calories than carbohydrate foods or non-alcoholic soft drinks. Drinking two drinks a day of beer or wine and just one or two of hard liquor will easily add 15 pounds within six months.
Moreover, our bodies absorb the alcohol quickly, it gets rapidly converted to sugar, and this causes the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin accelerates the conversion of calories into fat. Finally, alcohol slows down our metabolism, as a result we burn those calories more slowly.
7- Alcohol and death on the roads
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also impairs judgement, and reduces the body's reaction time. It is a fact that the large majority of traffic accidents are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
8- Alcohol and abnormal blood tests
Several blood tests may be abnormal in an alcoholic patient. Often, alcoholics are anaemic as a result of low intakes of folic acid. This type of anaemia shows up as large red blood cells, and is usually detected in lab work to determine blood counts.
Alcohol also affects the liver, and various blood tests to gauge liver function may be abnormal. Liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are increased in the blood in a certain proportion to one another in alcoholic liver disease. The typical suggestive ratio is a level of AST that is twice the level of ALT. Another enzyme, GGT, may be high in the blood of someone who has been drinking recently.
In alcoholic patients with severe liver disease, as well as in other patients with liver disease, blood clotting factor levels may be low and bilirubin levels may be high. Counts of platelets (also involved in blood clotting) can also be low in these patients.
Although the above tests are not diagnostic of alcoholism on their own, they are often used to confirm a suspicion of alcohol abuse or its consequences in certain patients who may not admit to alcohol abuse.
9- Alcohol and male impotence
Men with chronic high-level alcohol consumption typically experience a decrease in the number of sperm as well as a decrease in sexual drive. Researchers believe that the alcohol lowers the level of the male hormone testosterone, both by decreasing the production of the hormone and by increasing the speed at which the body metabolises it. This means that there is less testosterone available for normal sperm production and sexual function.
10- Alcohol and low motility
Alcohol may result in abnormal liver function and a rise in estrogen levels which may interfere with sperm development and hormone levels. Alcohol is also a toxin that can kill off the sperm-generating cells in the testicle. Consequently, there is indication that low motility may be linked to excessive alcohol intake.
11- Alcohol and pregnancy
Full-blown alcohol syndrome may be seen in women drinking three ounces of absolute alcohol daily (one ounce of absolute alcohol is equivalent to 2 beers, or 2 four-ounce glasses of wine or 2 mixed drinks made with one shot of hard liquor). Fetal alcohol syndrome involves poor growth both before and after birth. Other defects such as heart problems and brain abnormalities are also common. Lesser amounts of alcohol may be associated with more subtle abnormalities, and these may be seen with as little as 2 drinks per day (one ounce of absolute alcohol). More than one drink (more than two times a week) has also been associated with a higher incidence of miscarriage.
12- Father's alcohol intake and fetal health
Over the long term, even a drink or two a day can result in abnormal liver function in the man, which can adversely affect hormones and sperm production. Researches have shown that this may have an adverse relationship with regards to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome or other birth defects.
13- Alcohol and post Gallbladder removal
It is found that some patients do experience looser stools after their gallbladders are removed, possibly related to the constant flow of bile into the intestine. Because alcohol can also lead to diarrhoea, drinking may compound the problem of cholecystectomy-related diarrhoea in certain people.
14- Risk of Psychiatric Problems for Kids with alcoholic parents
Children of alcoholic parents appear to be at increased risk of a variety of psychiatric disorders and behavioural problems, results of a number of studies suggest.
Such children were more likely than their peers to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and overanxious disorder. This is according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of the AmericanAcademy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
15- Alcohol and domestic violence
The women (and children) at greatest risk for domestic violence are those whose partner is a regular drugs or alcohol consumer. This is according to results of a study conducted in emergency rooms across the US.
The fact that alcoholism is the major cause of domestic violence is also confirmed in police reports across the country.
16- Alcohol and Work Productivity
Due to the effect of alcohol on the body as a whole, and in personal levels of mental concentration in particular, alcohol significantly reduces productivity of the drinker. An independent research indicated that alcohol-dependent workers more frequently cause alcohol-related work problems -- showing up late, leaving early, doing poor quality or inadequate work, and arguing with co-workers.
"Two specific kinds of drinking behaviour significantly contribute to the level of work-performance problems. These are drinking right before or during working hours (including drinking at lunch and at company functions), and heavy drinking the night before that causes hangovers during work the next day." the researchers, Dr. Thomas W. Mangione of JSI Research and Training Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues, explain.
In conducting the study, the researchers surveyed and interviewed more than 14,000 corporate executives, supervisors, and workers at seven Fortune 500 corporations.