There are five things that Islam aims to maintain and keep safe from any danger, namely the soul, mind, property, lineage, and religion. For this reason, Islam penalizes murder, theft, alcohol drinking, adultery and apostasy.
The present-day data show that the dangers of alcohol are so many and the mortality rates stemming from drinking alcohol are alarming. Here are some:
“Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., after tobacco and diet/activity patterns. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant, that can affect virtually every organ in the body, since it goes directly into the bloodstream.
It lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, leading to unsafe behaviors, and eventually even death. Alcohol has many side effects including altering your perceptions, dulling your senses, hindering coordination, and blocking memory functions. If you continue to use alcohol heavily, you could experience stomach ailments, sexual impotence, heart and central nervous system damage, loss of appetite, and blackouts.
When alcohol accumulates in your bloodstream, your errors will increase. Your reaction time slows down drastically, and you find that you are unable to control your vehicle, or other items, as you did prior to drinking. In addition, it creates a false sense of confidence, so you may not realize that you are out of control.
Drinking, even at moderate levels, can put you at risk for serious health and social problems. Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications.
The more heavily you drink, the greater the strain will be on your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. It could even lead to the loss of your job, or committing or being the victim of an act of violence. If you have to ask yourself if you have a problem with alcohol, the chances are that you do.”
Here we would like to cite the following words of the prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Mahmoud `Akkam, professor of Shari`ah at the University of Halab, Syria:
“Scientists have discovered lots of hazards that are caused by alcohol and drugs. These hazards affect the brain, the heart and all other bodily organs. More dangerous is its effect on the ability to reproduce. It weakens a person’s ability to reproduce and causes many birth defects in the fetus.
Besides its financial effects, it has another awful effect on the social scale. It destroys the family, demolishes the bases of truthfulness and affinity and nobility.”
Shedding more light on the dangers of alcohol and the wisdom behind prohibiting it, the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:
“The Arabic word khamr signifies any alcoholic drink that causes intoxication. It is clear that drinking alcohol has so many harmful effects on a person’s mind, his health, his religion, and his work; let alone the disasters which it causes to the family when the person, driven by alcohol, neglects their needs and forgets his obligations, as the head of the family, toward his wife and children. In line with this, there are so many spiritual, material, and moral evils which proliferate in societies and nations due to the widespread consumption of alcohol.
A researcher in this area has rightly stated that: “Mankind has not suffered any greater calamity than that brought about by the use of alcohol. If statistics were collected worldwide of all the patients in hospitals who, due to alcohol, are suffering from mental disorders, delirium tremens, nervous breakdowns, and ailments of the digestive tract, to which are added the statistics of suicides, homicides, bankruptcies, sales of properties, and broken homes related to the consumption of alcohol, the number of such cases would be so staggering to the extent that, in comparison to it, all exhortation and preaching against drinking would seem too little.”
During the Period of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance), Arabs were very fond of wine and drinking parties. This love of wine is reflected in their language, which has nearly one hundred names for it, and in their poetry, which celebrates the praises of wine, goblets, drinking parties, and so on.
To eradicate this pervasive evil from society, Almighty Allah adopted a wise course of education and training, prohibiting it in measured stages. First, He made it clear to them that the harm of drinking alcohol is greater than its benefit; next, He told them not to come to prayer while intoxicated; and finally, He revealed the verse in Surah Al-Ma’idah in which He made the final say that drinking alcohol is totally and decisively prohibited. Almighty Allah says: “O ye 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. 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?” (Al-Ma’idah: 90-91)
In these two verses, Allah strictly prohibits wine and gambling, linking them to idols and seeking omens by means of divining arrows, and declares them to be rijs (abominable or filthy), a term which the Qur’an reserves for extremely indecent and evil things. He ascribes them to the work of Satan, which indeed consists only of obscenity and evil, and commands the Believers to abstain from them as the only way to attain success. Almighty Allah then mentions the harmful effects of wine and gambling on society, namely, the breaking of relationships and ensuing enmity and hatred, in addition to the harm they do to man’s soul by causing him to neglect the religious obligations of remembering Allah and of performing Prayer. The verses end with a very stern admonition to abstain: “Will ye then have done?” And when the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) finished reciting these verses for the first time, the listeners answered with the fervent cry, “We have desisted, O Lord! We have desisted!”
The response of the Muslims to these verses was remarkable indeed. At the time some people were drinking, with partly filled cups in their hands. As soon as they heard someone announcing, “Alcohol has indeed been prohibited,” they poured the remaining drinks upon the ground and broke the big clay pots in which other drinks were being fermented.
Many present-day governments throughout the world are convinced of the harmful effects of alcohol on individuals, families, and society. Some governments, such as that of the United States, have even tried to abolish alcohol by passing and attempting to enforce laws prohibiting the drinking of alcohol. It is only Islam which has succeeded in the mission of combating and eradicating it.
The churchmen hold differing opinions concerning the position of alcohol in Christianity. Some argue that the Biblical text permits drinking in small quantities, since it is good for the digestion. (See, for example, I Timothy 5:23.) But if this should be true, even though a little wine may be beneficial to the digestion, this little must be prohibited, as a small amount leads to large amounts and one glass to another, till one gets to addiction. For this reason, Islam’s stand in prohibiting alcohol and in blocking all avenues that lead to drinking is very clear and unequivocal.”