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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Can Muslims drink Alcohol according to Qur'an?

Quite often I am puzzled by the Muslims who drink saying that the Qur'an does not state that Drinking is Haraam. I am not sure if the word Haraam describes the highest form of bad things, and I am no scholar of Arabic. So I just go back to my usual arguments … and I see no way one can get out of them.

There are three major verses in the Qur'an about Drinking on Earth. Yes, there are verses, too, about Drinking in Heaven (where it will be allowed - but in a different form) but we won't get into those. Let us look at them:

1. Praying while Drunk:
"O you who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when you are drunken, till you know that which you utter …" (4. An-Nisa: 43).
The most important part of a Muslim rule - praying 5 times in a day - is ordered to be given up, if the Muslim is drunk. I'd assume that the majority of Muslims I know would rather not drink than give up their prayers.

2. Strong Drink being Satan’s Handiwork:
"O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed." (5. Al Ma' edah: 90).
Even here, apart from it being a work of the worst of God's Creation, Satan, the "Leave it aside” part is not just a recommendation … if you want to succeed. And who doesn’t?

But let's get to the important verse about Drinking and Gambling. It's Verse 219 of the 2nd Surah, Al-Baqarah. This is the verse we must use when we discuss the Drinking of Alcohol.
In Pakistan (and India) one argument one hears from believing Muslims - (who drink, and read the Qur'an translation in Urdu) - is that the verse says 

O Prophet, people ask you about laws on (Alcoholic) Drinks and Gambling.
Tell them that there is a huge disadvantage and some advantage. 
But the disadvantages are much greater than the advantages.

Such a ‘bad' translation from the Arabic!
Someone tried to ‘oppose' the word
فائدہ (=advantage) with
نقصانات (=disadvantage).
Nüqsaanaat or Nüqsaan is not in the verse at all.

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ

وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْو

 كَذَلِكَ يُبيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

 Yes. The words actually are:
إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ 
إِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ
(= Günaahé Kabeerah)
Meaning: A Grave Sin.

Take a look at the English Translations from several people.

002:219 Khan 
They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) 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." 
002:219 Maulana 

They ask thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them is a great sin and (some) advantage for men, and their sin is greater than their advantage. 
002:219 Pickthal 

They question thee about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great sin, and (some) utility for men; but the sin of them is greater than their usefulness. 
002:219 Rashad 

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." 
002:219 Sarwar 

(Muhammad), they ask you about wine and gambling. Tell them that there is great sin in them. Although they have benefits for men, the sin therein is far greater than the benefit. 
002:219 Shakir 

They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. 
002:219 Sherali 

They ask thee concerning wine and games of chance. Say 'In both there is great sin and harm and also some advantages for men, but their sin and harm are greater than their advantage,' 
002:219 Yusuf Ali 

They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit."


Shall we Drink to that?



It seems that Muslims generally take the word Haraam as the final warning. But Haraam can be forgiven by God. After all, He knows why you performed that act.

Here is Qur'an  002:173:

إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ

 فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ فَلا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ 

Translated by Pickthal:

He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience - nor transgressing due limits - then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.

However,  let's not forget that a grave or greater SIN is one that God does not forgive. Read the following verse and you'll understand what a grave sin can be:

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