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Why does Islam prohibit the consumption of alcohol?



Alcohol has been the scourge of human society since time immemorial. It continues to cost countless human lives, and causes terrible misery to millions throughout the world. Alcohol is the root cause of several problems facing society. The statistics of soaring crime rates, increasing instances of mental illnesses and millions of broken homes throughout the world bear mute testimony to the destructive power of alcohol.
1. Prohibition of alcohol in the Qur’an
The prohibition of alcohol in Islam is derived from the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an:
“O ye who believe! Intoxicants and Gambling, (Dedication of) stones, And (divination by) arrows, Are an Abomination – Of Satan’s handiwork; Eschew such (abomination), That ye may prosper.” [Al-Qur'an 5:90]
2. Prohibition of alcohol in the Bible
The Bible prohibits the consumption of alcohol in the following verses:
a. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” [Proverbs 20:1]
b. “And be not drunk with wine.” [Ephesians 5:18]
3. Can Alcohol be beneficial?
Some research indicates that limited consumption can have some health benefits. This is consistent with the verse of the Glorious Qur’an:
They ask you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.”
[Al-Qur’an 2:219]
4. Alcohol inhibits the inhibitory centre
An Alcohol Awareness Poster at Ball State University, Indiana
Human beings possess an inhibitory centre in their brains. This inhibitory centre prevents the person from doing things that he considers wrong. For instance a person does not normally use abusive language while addressing parents or elders. The inhibitory centre prevents a person from answering the call of nature in public.
When a person consumes alcohol, the inhibitory centre itself is inhibited. That is precisely the reason why an inebriated person is often found be indulging in behaviour that is completely uncharacteristic of him. For instance a person who is drunk may use abusive language with people he or she respects and/or make sexual advances towards them, and regret the actions later after becoming sober.
5. What about drinking in ‘moderation’?
Some argue that it is possible to drink in moderation and exercise self-control in order to prevent oneself from getting intoxicated. Investigations reveal that most alcoholics started off as ‘social drinkers’. Suppose a ‘social drinker’ loses self-control just once. In a state of intoxication he or she might commit a terrible crime, with life changing consequences. The scores of deaths and injuries due to accident involving drunk drivers bring untold grief to thousands of families every year.
According to National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice) in the year 1996 alone everyday on an average 2,713 rapes took place. The statistics tell us that the majority of the rapists were intoxicated while committing the crime. Even if the act is later regretted, a normal human being is likely to carry the guilt throughout his life. Both the victim and perpetrator are marred for life.
6. Diseases associated with alcoholism
There are several scientific reasons for the prohibition of consumption of intoxicants i.e. alcohol. The maximum number of deaths in the world related to any one particular cause is due to the consumption of alcohol. Millions of people die every year only because of intake of alcohol. Below is a simple list of few of the alcohol related illnesses:
1. Cirrhosis of the liver (the most well known alcohol associated disease).
2. Cancers of the Oesophagus, of the head and neck, of the liver (Hepatoma) and of the bowel.
4. Coronary Artherosclerosis, Angina and heart attacks are linked to heavy alcohol intake. Similarly strokes and different types of paralysis are linked to alcohol intake.
5. Beriberi and other deficiencies are not uncommon among alcoholics. Even Pellagra occurs in alcoholics.
6. Delerium Tremens is a serious complication that may occur during recurrent infection of alcoholics or post operatively. It also occurs during abstention as a sign of withdrawal effect. It is quite serious and may cause death even if treated in well equipped centers
7. Recurrent infection is very common among chronic alcoholics. The resistance to disease and the immunological defense system are compromised by alcohol intake.
8. Chest infections are notorious in alcoholics. Pneumonia, Lung Abcess, Emphysema and Pulmonary Tuberculosis are all common in alcoholics.
9. During acute alcoholic intoxication, the drunk person usually vomits, the cough reflexes which are protective are paralysed. The vomitus thus easily pass to the lung causing Pneumonia or Lung Abscess. Occasionally it may even cause suffocation and death.
10. The ill effects of alcohol consumption on women deserves special mention. Females are more vulnerable to alcohol-related Cirrhosis than men. During pregnancy alcohol consumption has a severe detrimental effect on the foetus. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is being recognized more and more in the medical profession.
11. Skin diseases are also related to alcohol indulgence.
12. Eczema, Alopecia, Nail Dystrophy, Paronychia (infection around the nails) and Angular Stomatitis (inflammation of the angle of the mouth) are common diseases among alcoholics.
7. Is Alcoholism a disease ?
If alcohol is a disease, it is the only disease that:
- Is sold in bottles
- Is advertised in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television
- Has licensed outlets to spread it
- Produces revenue for the government
- Brings violent deaths on the highways
- Destroys family life and increases crime
- Has no germs or viral cause
Islam is called the “Deen-ul-Fitrah” or the natural religion of Man. All its injunctions are aimed at preserving the natural state of man. Alcohol is a deviation from this natural state, for the individual as well as for society. Hence the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam.

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