Islam’s Approach to the Problem of Alcoholism

Drinking is more Heinous Sin than Adultery
The Holy Prophet (S.A.) is reported to have said to the following effect: according to another narration; after the divine ban on liquor through my word, it is not permissible to enter into matrimonial relations with one, who drinks liquor. Or to credit his statement, or to accept any testimony of him, or to entrust him with any charge under an impression of his integrity, for then Allah (SWT) will not guarantee his faith, nor recompense any one for it.
Hazrat Amirul Mominin Ali (A.S.) was asked if he (A.S.) regarded drinking as a more heinous sin than adultery. To this he (A.S.) replied that he (A.S.) did, because the vice of adultery did not incite the sinner to any other sin, while a drinker is led off to adultery, to thieving, to man slaughter as also to forsake prayers.
Hazrat Imam Baqir (A.S.) has said the drinker will rise black-faced on the Doomsday, with his tongue protruded from his mouth, drip ping saliva on his chest – a state which the Almighty Allah is perfectly justified to place him in on the Day of Judgement.
The Holy Prophet (S.A.) is reported to have said to the following effect The Almighty Allah has sent me to be a Mercy to the worlds, to ban the musical instruments, indecencies and the symbols of Ignorance. The Almighty Allah, on oath says that He will make a person drink of the Hellish liquor, if he drinks wine in this word, whether he be of the condemned or the forgiven.
It was because of such stern views of Islam on drink, coupled with the fundamental teachings on discipline and moral training, that a problem which baffles modern man for a solution, was solved so effectively and finely.
Islam discountenances all intoxicants and the severest penalties are provided for those who transgress the limits in this behalf. Flogging is prescribed for the first offender and if the delinquent persists in his perverted taste, he is liable to the penalty of death even according to Islamic Laws.
It must, however, be emphasised in all matters of obligations and prohibitions that every commandment is enforced in the interests of the Society and the individuals composing it – to close all those avenues that lead to disorder and disintegration and to establish an orderly society on earth, working for the good of every one of its citizens.
The Western countries, infatuated with the powerful gadgets supplied by their technology and science proceeded to ignore the fundamental laws laid down by Benign Providence for man’s good in the matter of alcohol and other allied misdemeanours.
The recent events of their history have amply demonstrated the folly of such a course. They are now trying to retrieve their losses by recourse to half-hearted measures of propaganda and legislation, which, however, are leading them nowhere. Their helplessness is evidenced by the waves of crimes which sweep the body politic like night mares.
Had these people listened to the voice of reason. given by their religious scriptures, they would have avoided much of the unnecessary national and individual losses they have undergone. As Imam Baqir (A. S.) has declared, “Allah never raised any prophet, but with the knowledge that he would forbid the use of alcohol in the perfection of his faith, which has been in all ages forbidden.”
The Bible, though it has undergone whole-sale mutations and alterations, yet it is very clear in its verdict on the unlawfulness of alcohol as a drink. In verse No. 20 of the Amthal Sulaiman (A.S.) we find a condemnation of the drunkards and the people are warned against keeping company with them. In verse 39, this condemnation is further amplified by using words which mean: For whom is stressful strife? For whom is rage as well as ill-luck? For whom is bodily injury? And for whom is redness of eyes? (Who through warped reason, and emotional instability is a source of bodily injury, even death to others and himself by his evil disposition).
All such misdemeanours are the portions of the person who is habituated to drink. In the same context, Verses Nos. 31, 32, are to the effect, “Wine is rose-red in colour, which it displays in the bubbling goblet. It is clear and fine in appearance. Do not, however, cast a look at it, for it bites as a snake in the end and lashes like a viper”. In verse 20 is laid down the penalty for the drunkard which is no less severe than the stoning to death of the offender.
In the gospel of Lukes, Chapter I, verse 15, we find, “He is dignified in the eyes of his Lord. He touches not drink or any other intoxicant He is overflowing with the light of pare spirit”. In the book of Yule’s , Chapter V, Verse 18, the words are to the effect. “Do not get the intoxication of wine, for there’ is nothing but mischief therein. Rather betake yourself to the joys of the soul”.
From the few references given above it will be seen that the revealed religions always looked with abhorrence on the evil of drink. They never allowed their followers to touch the unnatural substance to satisfy an unnatural craving.
This has been the outlook of all sane persons throughout the ages, whether they belonged to any of the great religions, or they received the requisite guidance from their sturdy common sense, and powers of far-sighted observation. In countries where the evils of drink are being recognised in respect of its bearing on the bodily and mental health of the individuals and the moral and special implications of the same, great efforts are being made to control the evil.
Prohibition, wherever tried, has resulted in intensifying the evil. Legislation is powerless as a preventive. The right approach is that adumbrated by Islam, which insists on the fundamental principle of all-reform -the reform of the soul- as pithily expressed by a great thinker, the soul of all improvement is the improvement of the soul.
Punishment for Drinking in Islam (The Holy Month of Ramadan)
From Judgements of Hazrat Ali (A.S.), it has been reported by Kulaini on the authority of Jabir that once the poet Najjashi was brought to Hazrat Ali (A.S.) with the accusation that he was found drunk during the holy month of Ramadan.
The accusation when proved, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) ordered for whipping the poet by eighty lashes which was carried out. The next morning the poet was ordered for another twenty lashes. When Najjashi asked Hazrat Ali (A.S.) the cause of the extra twenty lashes, as the order of the Holy Quran in such cases was only eighty, the holy Imam (Hazrat Ali A.S.) replied: “Twenty for discarding the chastity of the holy month of Ramadan.
The First Case after the Demise of Holy Prophet (S.A.)
It has been reported by Kulaini on the authority of Hazrat Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A.S.) that a case was decided by Hazrat Ali (A.S.) in such a way that it was never decided before and that it was the first case after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S.A.). “During the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr, a man was found drunk and brought before the caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr. The Caliph asked him as to whether he had drunk wine.
In reply the man admitted to have drunk. The Caliph asked him “Why did you drink when it has been prohibited in Islam?” The man replied: “I am residing in the neighbourhood of some people who are habitual drinkers. Although I am a Muslim, but I have never heard that wine has been prohibited in Islam”.
Hearing this Hazrat Abu Bakr looked at Hazrat Omar with a question mark in his eyes. Hazrat Omar said “This is just one of the cases that no one else than Ali could decide”. When the case was referred to Hazrat Ali (A.S.), he sent the man round in the city with some persons to ask the people as to whether any one had recited to him the verse of the holy Quran whereby wine was totally prohibited. And when it was proved that none had done so, the man was released with a warning never to drink in future”. (also carried by Nasikhu t-Tawarikh: Vol. 2, p-731; Buharij : Vol. 9, p-483, Manaqib, Vol. 2, p-178)

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