Monday, October 31, 2005

Alcohol - Not Prohibited in the Koran ?

Alcohol - Not Prohibited in the Koran

Mesbah Uddin, U.K.

Over the years, the detrimental effects of alcohol are well recorded even in the West. The highway statistics of deaths, because of the influence of alcohol, are astronomically high. The US Congress once voted for the prohibition of alcohol in 1917, when cars were rare on the streets. Organisations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) sprang up in recent years to elevate social conscience about the use of alcohol.

But alcohol as a source of intoxication is poles apart from its beneficial aspects. Quite often, alcohol is needed as preservative and solvent in medicines.

Nevertheless, very frequently, sermons are heard in the mosques to avoid those medicines that contain alcohol. Islamic journals could hardly be browsed without stumbling upon an article, advising the devout Muslims to check the alcohol and other ingredients in medicines. Even tooth paste - a cleaning substance, is not spared by the 'self-appointed' Islam-defenders.

Contrary to popular belief, a Koranic verse of a very revered Sura describes the alcoholic drinks as gifted with "good nourishment", and or, "wholesome drink". Naturally, this Koranic verse may inspire a few truth-seekers to trace their memories on the Koran, and relate the journals and news coverage, on the life-enhancing marvels of selective alcoholic drinks.

In reality, the medical researchers, in recent years, have confirmed that the taking of certain red wine in a prescribed limit has been proven to be highly deterrent against heart-attack. The effectiveness of alcohol, in the prevention of infection during oral surgery - and for that matter most surgery is indisputable. Nevertheless, the mullahs, the Imams, as well as those scholars, heavily brain-washed with the corrupted Islamic value based on the Hadith, are adamant in their belief that the Koran prohibits alcohol even as a life saver.

Does the Koran really define alcohol as 'haram'? Let us examine the source - the Koran, and keep the Hadith not to intervene in this issue.

The characteristics of haram or prohibitions found in the Koran usually begin with the expression "forbidden for you." In some occasions, it gives a strong warning of hellfire. For instance, about the prohibiton of swine meat, the Koran says:

"Forbidden unto you are carrion and blood and swine-flesh.... (5. Al Ma' idah: 3).

The Koranic prohibition about murder states:

"Whosoever slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hellfire for ever..." (4. An-Nisa: 93).

There are five major verses in the Koran that deal with the alcoholic drinks. Selecting by their sequential positions in the Koran, the first one contains the most interesting dogma and will be addressed at the end of this topic.

The second verse advises the followers of Islam not to engage in prayers when they are under the influence of alcohol. The Koranic text is:

"O you who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when you are drunken, till you know that which you utter,. ...." (4. An-Nisa: 43).

Obviously, the expression "forbidden for you" is not found anywhere nearby. Nor the threat of 'hellfire' is directly or indirectly traceable in the verse. Rather, the deterrence applies to praying under alcoholic influence.

The third verse defines alcoholic drinks as "an infamy of Satan's handiwork." and indicates the believer that to succeed in life, it is advisable to stay away from alcoholic drinks. The Koranic text is:

"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' idah: 90).

Strikingly, no word of forbiddance or the fear of hellfire is found here to classify alcohol as 'haram'. More to the point, the advice: "leave it aside in order that you may succeed" relates to earthy success in life. No doubt, career successes are often impaired and impeded because of the excessive influence of alcohol. Amazingly, the Koran places rightful emphasis on it.

The fourth verse relates to food in general including alcohol, and assures the believers not to be too concerned about consuming food, as long as they do 'good work'. The phrase 'good work' has been emphasised repeatedly. Here again the hellfire and words of forbiddance are missing. The verse states:

"There shall be no sin unto those who believe and do good works for what they may have consumed. So be mindful of your duty and do good works; and again: be mindful of your duty, and believe; and once again: be mindful of your duty, and do right. Allah loveth the good." (5. Al Ma' idah :93).

As stated earlier, the fifth verse relates to a significant Sura of the Koran. It describes the alcoholic drinks as gifted with "good nourishment", and or, "wholesome drink" (16.An Nahl : 67) The Koran, as translated, reads:

"And from the fruit of the palm and the grapes, you get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise (Yusuf Ali).And of the fruits of the date-palm, and grapes, whence you derive strong drink and good nourishment. Lo! therein is indeed a portent for people who have sense." (Pickthall).

Now we come to the first verse that we skipped in the beginning for analytical discussion. Here, alcoholic drinks are qualified as having both 'detrimental' and 'beneficial' aspects for the mankind. The verse places emphasis on the 'detriment' (interpreted as sin) than on the 'benefit'. This, in reality, is the status of alcohol even today and its interface with numerous life saving usage besides medicines. Incidentally, the word 'alcohol' is derived from the Arabic word 'alkuhul' and it originates during the Golden Periods of Islam.

What God addressed to prophet Muhammad in the Koran, can logically be understood as:

"They question you about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great abuse and usefulness for mankind; but the abusive side of them is greater than their usefulness." (2. Al-Baqarah :219).

It is worth mentioning here that the word "abuse" has been replaced as "sin" by the early promoters of Islam. It is really a mind-boggling issue whether the word "sin" is an appropriate opposit of "usefulness"?

Philologists or the experts of languages tell us that they find groups of languages that have similar root words and similar ways of expressing the same idea. They, however, find in other areas of languages, an altogether different grammatical scheme. With all these linguistic characteristics, the antonyms or the opposite words of all languages are the same. For instance the opposite of 'good' is 'bad' and definitely not 'dog'. Thus, when the opposite of 'usefulness' is arbitrarily made to mean 'sin', question arises as to the credence to the interpretation and its validity.

Despite having total absence of the fear of hellfire and prohibitive connotation, it is really a thought provoking question: Why alcohol is known as a prohibited (haram) drink in Islam? Perhaps, the answer is not apparent, rather buried under the rubbles of historical antiquities.

Unlike today, access to the Koran was limited to a few people in the early days of Islam because of the absence of paper and printing press. Paper, though an ancient commodity in China, came to the Arab's hand and subsequently to the West only during the tenth century. And not until Johann Gutenberg's invention of printing press in the fifteenth century, the mass production of any book was feasible, including the Koran.

Obviously, those religious elite, possessing copies of the Koran in parchment with golden calligraphy, had no rival in challenging their marinated interpretation, with their own recipe. Over the years, the unchallenged interpretations got ingrained in the religious belief and kept passing from generations to generations.

Unfortunately, that's the way the Koranic verses have been interpreted, translated and propagated. In other words, the Koranic interpreters had to bend the linguistic rules to suit the whim of Islam's promoters during those early days, closer to 300 years after Prophet Muhammad.

History tells us that the Seljuk warlords were mostly originated in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Towards the collapsing days of the Abbasid dynasty, the Seljuks captured the administration of the Abbasid kingdom. The Abbasid Sultans remained happy only with a yearly allowance and hearing their names mentioned during the "Khutba" of the Friday-prayer.

After analysing the historical sequence of the Abbasid dynasty, some historians are of the opinion that it was the Seljuk generals who chopped-off alcoholic drinks for their soldiers in the battlefield. A few years before the Seljuks, the Buyids systematically had formulated their theological and judicial ideas. And more than ever the ulemas got prominance in functioning as the interpreters of Islamic laws.

The Seljuks, previously exposed to Christianity, were the new converts to Islam. It was a juncture of the time when the dominance of Bukhari's Hadith was more prevalent than the Koran. After all, when Bukhari insisted that his Hadith was no inferior to the Koran, it was normal for the Seljuks to place more importance on the Hadith - presumed to be the updated Islamic guidance than adhering to the Quran - viewed as old and outdated. The Hadith provided the Seljuks all the ammunition to rule the country in the false pretext of Muhammad's precedents.

In fact, most Sharia Laws were developed during this Seljuk period of Islam based on the Hadith. The dreadful powers of Fatwa, apostasy, stoning to death, honour killing, Jihad with a reward of 70 virgins in the heaven and many more were enshrined in the Hadith while they were totally absent in the Koran. Obviously it doesn't leave any room for the researchers to ponder other than to conclude that the prohibition of alcohol too was a strategy of the Seljuks. It was largely the Seljuks that tossed Islam from its original orbit.

It is an irony that the alcoholic drink had been a normal beverage during the time of the prophets prior to Muhammad. Wine was a significant item when Jesus was having his last supper with his twelve disciples. Even one of his miracles involved the making of wine for the guests in a party. In fact, the use of wine could be traced in the Old Testament to all the notable prophets including Moses, David and Solomon.

The Koran tells us that wine is one of the significant attributes and rewards in the Heaven. Yet the early Imams arbitrarily made it a forbidden drink despite the fact that neither the word, 'forbidden', nor the warning of 'hellfire' relates to alcohol in the verses of the Koran.

Presumably, it is a high time for the rational Muslims to ponder and read the verses of the Koran for themselves instead of relying solely on the hearsay. After all, the Islamic God Himself has declared the Koran as

"....a lecture in Arabic containing no crookedness.... (Aa-Zumar 28).

Could the Koran then be so complicated? Have the Muslims not been assured in the very preamble of Surah Al-Baqarah that the Koran is a "guidance"?

Misrepresented by the ill-educated mullahs, misinterpreting the message of the Koran for political and military purposes, the Muslims are perceived today as backward people with nothing to offer to the rest of the world. While God allows even the forbidden swine-flesh to save life, what could be more evil than avoiding medicines because of their alcoholic contents?

Source: Translation of the Koran, by Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Shakir; The Holly Bible, King James Version; Classical Islam, Von Grunebaum.

Taken from News From Bangladesh

17 Comments:

Anonymous Shapps said...

Hi,

Dropped by your blog from '3rd World View'

Mesbah Uddin misses one vers out which I have dug up the translation for below:

005.091
YUSUFALI: Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?
PICKTHALL: Satan seeketh only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of strong drink and games of chance, and to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from (His) worship. Will ye then have done?

If he talks about hellfire, well that is for those who disobey Allah. Rarely does the Quran state that Hellfire is explicitly for a particular type of sin. However, the standard punishment for not obeying Allah is hellfire, whether it is for 1 nanosecond, or 1000 lifetimes.

9:59 AM  
Blogger mezba said...

Dropped by your blog from '3rd World View'. You have presented a very interesting point of view that should be published and debated. After some analysis of your article I wish to point out a few things:

Islamic journals could hardly be browsed without stumbling upon an article, advising the devout Muslims to check the alcohol and other ingredients in medicines.

I think the prohibition in these cases refer to the fact that many food items have wine (the end product) mixed in them, for example types of Blackforest Cake found in many groceries in Canada that normally do not sell alcohol. A muslim will not use a toothpaste that has alcohol, as there are toothpastes that do not and one is not better than the other. Regarding medicine that contains components present in alcohol, thats different. Alcohol also contains the same elements as water, and no one is banning water. The focus is on the end product - alcohol itself.

Contrary to popular belief, a Koranic verse of a very revered Sura describes the alcoholic drinks as gifted with "good nourishment", and or, "wholesome drink".

In my opinion, this is not correct. Let's go to the translation you provided.

"And from the fruit of the palm and the grapes, you get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise (Yusuf Ali).And of the fruits of the date-palm, and grapes, whence you derive strong drink and good nourishment. Lo! therein is indeed a portent for people who have sense." (Pickthall)."

Nowhere does it say alcohol. The Arabic language at the time of Muhammad (pbuh) had over a 100 words to describe wine or alcoholic beverages, yet none of them are used in the Arabic verse of the Quran. We know that God Almighty must know these words, therefore if He did not use them here then He did not mean alcohol.

"fruit of the palm and the grapes"

Naturally that's the date and palm the Quran is talking about, and no one can say it's not food. And other juices can be made from these that are NOT alcoholic. Wine, beer etc are only made from FERMENTED fruits.

"Unlike today, access to the Koran was limited to a few people in the early days of Islam because of the absence of paper and printing press.

Obviously, those religious elite, possessing copies of the Koran in parchment with golden calligraphy, had no rival in challenging their marinated interpretation, with their own recipe. Over the years, the unchallenged interpretations got ingrained in the religious belief and kept passing from generations to generations.

This is not right. People may not have had access to the PRINTED version of the Quran but there were many Huffaz. Indeed the first acts of many Caliphs after winning new land and converts was to send Islamic teachers to the new Muslims to teach them the Quran. Research any history of Islamic conquests, you will see this is true.

Please give some sources for your theories on the Seljuk.

Let us examine the source - the Koran, and keep the Hadith not to intervene in this issue.

This is a fundamental flaw. The Quran is like a telegram, you need the Hadith. Nowhere in Quran you will find we have to pray 5 times. It is Hadith that tells us so. Both are needed equally.

I hope you find the truth in your quest to do so.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Sharif said...

Interesting post. Have to read this book:
Wine In Early Islam

2:59 PM  
Blogger Fugstar said...

Salaam

Interesting 'textual quranic analysis' but like mezba said its about the social effects not the chemical and also your intentions, Allah knows those best. lots of food contain minute amounst of alcohol simply because of their nature, but muslims exercise common sense in line with their teachings.


There were three phases by which alcohol as withdrawn from the early muslim society. remember that jahil arabs were perhaps way more decadent than anything desh's most depraved anti religious praxis people

highlighting its good and bad points

banning it from those near to prayer (somebody messed up a surah recitation)

banning it altogether.


I agree that the alcohol thing doesnt rank as high as , say associating partners to Allah, but its importan nontheless. people should be more creative about the 'fun' they can have.

its embarrassing when senior deshi diplomats and elites get pissed and represetnt our culture.

the less said about the 'top lawyers' the better.

i remember that the last AL govt nominated a drunkard for OIC sec gen. hilarious!

Its sad, but doesnt reflect the sobriety of so many of our people who struggled so hard to retain and recover their spiritual identity through colonisation, calamity, zamindary and new age imperialism.

3:09 PM  
Blogger MysticSaint said...

All praise be to God that we are now looking deeply in Quran and real history of Quran.

Its true through political influence many of our religious and spiritual thoughts are twisted. We all need to open up to the Divine Message more and only then can Muslims advance in modern age.

I really liked the way u interpreted the verses. The analysis is beautiful. I'm anti-alcoholo personally because of the social price we need to pay for the abuse of it.

Destroying family lives all around the world is enough to call it haram since our human life is so precious. So many broken families are created because of Alcoholic problem, so many children live in deprived of family love, which is a tremendous gift from God.

6:53 AM  
Blogger nashat said...

Hi, I just read your post and its criticisms. I just wanted to mention one thing which is the danger in analysing the verses of the Koran sequentially instead of chronologically. The Koran was not revealed in the order in which we read it now, so that might be something you want to keep in mind when you want to analyse in sequence. Also, I liked what Shappir bhai had to say.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Nezih said...

We also believe ALIMS who later came to the world we live. No one can see anyone of them saying alcohol is no banned in Islam. Our prophet also says "Whoever has a daughter and a son and treat them fairly he will go to paradise" because at that time girls were seen as shame in society. To reduce the hatred of the people The Most Merciful send Quran and the writings which my Brothers mentioned before me . It is not the peoples duty to reference Quran but Prophet Muhammad and Alims as well

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Gokhan said...

This is the type of debate all interested in Islam should be having. The Koran is the sole surviving semitic text and thus the prima facie source of absolute importance. What we can see from the verses selected is that the Koran identifies alcohol as a potential vice but also that it recognises it is not an absolute vice. Clearly the verses demonstrate that pragmatically it is impossible to avoid the stuff but above all don't insult Allah and his Holy Testimony by praying whilst under the influence for you cannot find Allah if you are drunk and to attempt to do so offends Him. Thus, you have to make the moral choice and you will be judged accordingly by Him in that choice. For example with toothpaste, if you have the choice, you should go for the one without alcohol but if there is no choice but a toothpaste with an alcoholic ingredient (for example to act as a preservative and prevent infection from the toothpaste itself), you still need to use a toothpaste and your moral choice has been made by others. The same will apply to fasting: You should fast and by doing so will demonstrate your worthiness as a Muslim but you cannot be compelled to do so. Furthermore, if you are rendered unwell by fasting, you can abstain. For example, a diabetic or someone recovering from illnes is not expected to fast: It is Allah who will make his judgement in your decision (and Him alone) and not the people about you: They have the own moral injunctions to answer!

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hrmm that was weird, my comment got eaten. Anyway I wanted to say that it's nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as I had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. This was the first place that told me the answer. Thanks. Malaysia travel tips Singapore travel Agen Sbobet Indonesia holiday holiday forum

6:14 PM  
Anonymous www.la-rioja-3d.com said...

Thank you for this post, really worthwhile info.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous www.crearpaginaweb.com said...

Here, I do not actually think this is likely to have success.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous newport cigarettes said...

Alcohol is not really prohibited in the Koran, it is just the Muslim religious leaders that say not to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. But who follows them anyway?

2:18 AM  
Anonymous adult friend finder reviews said...

The council noted that with expenditure going to provide social services in inner cities across the country, the programs are among the finest in the world.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous how to get motivated to lose weight said...

A lot of the planning and process is involved in developing a robust online marketing strategy that some might think as more of an industrial process.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous blog commenting service said...

On the other hand, many of those who dislike it cannot stand that it implies you could sum up all into a single quantitative ratio.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Impotence treatment with Generic Viagra soft tabs said...

nice post love it

11:03 AM  
Blogger Nance said...

The new electronic cigarette is already a very popular item. Because of this, many different types have been created. This can be great because it offers many different options for all different types of people.
Electronic cigarettes
e-cigarettes
e-cigarette talk
reviews of electric cigarettes

4:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home