The consumption of alcohol and other kinds of intoxicants is prohibited in Islam. This is simply because Islam prohibits all such actions that affect the reasoning capacity of man, at the top of which are alcoholism, gambling, deceit and so on. All of which deprive man of his capacity to reason. Allah says:
قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“Say, my Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what do you not know.” (Q7:33)
Carnal desires and falsehood are two things that are instrumental in the demotion of man from the high position of humanity to the lowliness of the beasts. Such a person is not capable of carrying any important responsibility. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to excel in any field. Even if he resolves to do something, his resolution is soon defeated. The more difficult, the more important a task is, the more difficult it would be for an alcoholic to accomplish it. Even if the wisdom behind every Islamic act had been unknown, it would have sufficed to accept it, as the same is advocated by intellect.
Allah being a Merciful God and knowing well how addictive alcoholism could be did not prohibit the act abruptly, rather, he revealed its prohibition in three verses spanning through a good period of time so as to ease the effect of stopping the addiction upon the believers, among other reasons best known to Him the Almighty. At first, He revealed that in it and in gambling is a great sin and a means of profit for men, meanwhile, the sin is far greater and outweighs the benefit that might be derived there from. Allah says:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا
“They ask you about intoxicants and the games of chance. Says: in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit.” (Q2:219)
After this, in the second stage of the prohibition when some believer went praying while drunk and committed heinous mistake in his recitation from the Qur'an, Allah revealed:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَى حَتَّى تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ وَلَا جُنُبًا إِلَّا عَابِرِي سَبِيلٍ حَتَّى تَغْتَسِلُوا
O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter, nor when you are in a state of Janaba, (i.e. in a state of sexual impurity and have not yet taken a bath) except when travelling on the road (without enough water, or just passing through a mosque), till you wash your whole body. (Q4:43)
On a final note, Allah revealed the total prohibition of intoxicants in the following verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“O you who believe ! Surely intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (divining by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan’s works, shun it therefore that you may be successful.” (Q5:90)
As for the punitive measures spelt out by the Islamic Law to help curb alcoholism, they are of two dimensions; the worldly or mundane and spiritual.
As for the mundane, the alcoholic is to be flogged eighty strokes of the cane or whip according to the consensus of the fuqaha’ (Jurists), because of the report narrated by Muslim (3281) from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) flogged the one who had drunk wine with palm branches stripped of their leaves and with shoes. But there is some difference of opinion as to the number of lashes. The majority of scholars are of the view that it is eighty lashes for a free man and forty for others.
As for the spiritual punishment, it entails, among others, forfeiting of rewards accruable to him for his acts of worship for a duration of forty days! Subhana Allah, what a loss!!
Below are some traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which state that alcohol is emphatically forbidden and that it is the mother of all evils; whoever falls into this sin, it will lead him into other evil actions. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound.
In Sunan al-Nasaa’i (5570) it is narrated that Ibn al-Daylami said to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, “O ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, did you hear the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say anything about wine?” He said, “Yes, I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say, ‘If any man from among my ummah drinks wine, Allah will not accept his prayers for forty days.’” This was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilat al-Saheehah (709). What this means is that he will not be rewarded for them, but he is still obliged to pray; in fact he is obliged to do all the prayers. If he forsakes prayer during this time, he will be committing one of the worst of major sins, one which some of the scholars said amounts to kufr, Allah forbids.
In Saheeh al-Bukhaari (2295) and Saheeh Muslim (86) it is narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No one who commits zina is a believer at the moment when he is committing zina, and no one who drinks wine is a believer at the moment when he is drinking it, and no thief is a believer at the moment when he is stealing, and no robber is a believer at the moment when he is robbing and the people are looking on.” This means that such a person is not a believer in the sense of having complete faith, rather his faith is greatly lacking because of this evil action.
It is also narrated in al-Bukhaari (5147) and Muslim (3736) from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever drinks wine in this world and does not repent from that, he will be deprived of it in the Hereafter.”
In Sunan Abi Dawood (3189) it is narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has cursed alcohol, the one who drinks it, the one who pours it, the one who sells it, the one who buys it, the one who squeezes it (squeezes the grapes, etc), the one for whom it is squeezed, the one who carries it and the one to whom it is carried.” (Classed as sound by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2/700) . May Allah the Almighty protect and safeguard us and the entire Muslims against alcohol, intoxicants and all vices. Ameen.