To Drink, or Not to Drink? What you might not know about Alcohol and Islam.
When I was still a Muslim, one of the most common things that my non-muslim friends brought up was the issue of drinking. They didn’t see why it was a big deal and they thought it was funny that some of the muslims they knew still liked to drink even though they knew they were not supposed to. I know that some moderate and liberal Muslims today don’t have a big problem with alcohol, but my family was one of the ones that were extremely strict. We were absolutely not allowed to drink or have any friends who drink. We were not even allowed to cook anything that included any kind of alcoholic flavoring (even though the alcohol evaporates when cooked).
It was to the point that, when I was still a student, my mother did not want me work as a waitress in a restaurant, because it would mean that I have to serve alcohol to people. Yes… it’s that big of a deal in my family…. We have only ONE relative that openly drinks, and my family pretends that he doesn’t even exist. His mother never talks to him or answers his calls and everyone talks about him like he did something terrible.. Just for drinking sometimes.
What Does Islam say about drinking?
If you ask Muslims, most of them will probably tell you that it is absolutely forbidden to drink alcohol. Both theand the Hadith made that very clear.
“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al-Ansaab, and Al-Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful”
(: al-Maa’idah 5:90)
Interesting… It seems to me that the ” scary devil’s handiwork” is not so bad ….. I think many drinkers would agree that he did a pretty good job, don’t you think?
The funny thing about this subject is that wine is actually promised to Muslims in “heaven”. If it is so bad, then why would god give it to them as a reward? Why would “he” give them something from the devil? Isn’t “Satan” the enemy of mankind?
This following Hadith is the reason why my mom would not let me work a waitress at a restaurant. It seems to me like it is a little over the top…
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah 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 saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2/700)
I don’t think most Muslims really know the actual punishment that is required for people who drink. I know I didn’t. I was really surprised that the majority of the Islamic scholars agree that the minimum punishment is 80 lashes…. For having a drink! Wow! Isn’t that a little excessive? Isn’t the punishment for rape 100 lashes (if the person is not married)?….. So they are pretty much saying that a person who drinks is almost as bad a rapist… Really?! For having a drink? You don’t even get a buzz from that!
…When Umar (became the Commander of the Faithful) and the people went near to pastures and towns, he said (to the Companions of the Holy Prophet). What is your opinion about lashing for drinking? Thereupon Abd al-Rahman b. Auf said: My opinion is that you fix it as the mildest punishment. Then ‘Umar inflicted eighty stripes.
Sahih Muslim 17:4228
To make matters worse, Mohammad said that if someone drinks more than 3 times, then the punishment should be death…. DEATH!! For drinking a few times?
Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If he is intoxicated, flog him; again if he is intoxicated, flog him; again if he is intoxicated, flog him if he does it again a fourth time, kill him.
AbuDawud said: And there is a similar tradition of Umar ibn AbuSalamah, from his father, on the authority of AbuHurayrah, from the Prophet (peace be upon him): If he drinks wine, flog him if he does it so again, a fourth time, kill him.Abu Dawud 38:4469 , See also: Abu Dawud 38:4467 and Abu Dawud 38:4470
I never knew that this was real the punishment for drinking alcohol until recently. They don’t really advertise it, especially in this world that is all about this new thing called “freedom”…. I couldn’t believe it! These rules also still exist in some Muslim countries today that are ruled by Sharia law (like Iran and Saudi Arabia). I really wonder how many Muslims actually know this. Especially with drinking being on the rise in Muslim countries….
Alcohol is only forbidden sometimes?
I remember in Islamic class when my teacher was telling us about a Quranic verse that only forbade drinking before. He was trying to explain why the following verse did not completely forbid alcohol.
O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged. Qur’an 4:43
Did Mohammad ever drink? Maybe…
This is the part that they don’t teach you in schools! I heard a rumor that there was a Hadith (#3753) by Sahih Muslim (a reputable person) that says Mohammad had an alcoholic drink (that was very common in his time). I also heard that ever since that Hadith was exposed by non-muslims online a few years ago, they have been trying to hide it so people cannot use it to criticize Islam.
We were with the messenger of Allah, PBUH and he asked for a drink. One of his men said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, Can we offer you wine to drink?” He said Yes. He (Gaber) went out looking for the drink and came back with a cup of wine. The messenger (Peace Be Upon him) asked, “Have you covered it with a twig in a transverse manner” He (Gaber) said, “Yes” and he (Muhammad) drank.
Sahih Muslim – Hadith #3753
I did not really believe it, so I did some research online for Hadith number 3753…. with no luck at first. That number ended up pointing me to a different Hadith or to nowhere. Then I found a screenshot taken a few years ago of the Hadith described, but it was in Arabic. It was from a reputable website for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Saudi Arabia. Since I speak Arabic, I read the title of the Hadith, went to their “updated” website and looked it up by the title (instead of the number). It turns out that the Hadith was still there under a different number (now #2010) and it was not available in the English translation (only in Arabic). It also looks like the Hadith was slightly modified. They used the word “Laban” (Milk) instead of “”Nabidh” (which is usually an alcoholic drink) to make it seem like Mohammad was talking about something else instead of alcohol. Wow! They really went through some extensive measures to make this Hadith difficult for the public to find. If the Hadith was really not talking about alcohol, then why did they work so hard to hide it? All the links to that original page do not exist anymore (except in some archives). If they were telling the truth, they would have nothing to hide.
Update (Feb 2, 2012): I later did some more research and found yet ANOTHER page with the original Hadith on the Saudi website. They changed it to another number (2010 to 2011) AGAIN, but the content uses the same word “Nabidh” (which is usually alcoholic). This version was before they changed the word to “Laban” (milk). In this Hadith, Mohammad specifically asks if the drink is alcoholic and the man says yes, then mohammad drank it. View Page. The funny thing is, when I searched for this original version of the Hadith on their website (al-Islam.com), I could not find it. But when I click on the link (above), it takes me to the correct version of the Hadith. That means that it is on their server but not available to the public.
There was also a story about Mohammad performing wudu (ablution) with wine.
Narrated by Abdullah bin Masoud (May God be pleased with him):
He was with the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him on the night of the jinn when he asked him if he had water. He answered that he had wine in a pot. Mohammed said: Pour me some to do ablution and he did. [The] Prophet peace be upon him [said]: “O Abdullah bin Masood it is a drink and a purifier.”Musnad Ahmad - Hadith #3594,
This part just seemed a little strange to me and I have to say that I only found an original screenshot of this Hadith (at least so far… and only from my brief research online). I am pretty sure that if I were to look it up in the actual books I would find the Hadith in some of the older editions (before they were able to modify anything).
In reality, I don’t care whether these Hadith’s are true or not. Drinking should be something that is a personal choice. I just resent the fact that the religion is trying to control what you decide to do with your life (whether their prophet did it or not).
Do Some Muslims Drink Today? Absolutely!
Although the majority of Muslims think that drinking is Haram (forbidden), I have to say that I am surprised at how many of them still drink behind the scenes. Some are kind of open about it (if they come from more tolerant backgrounds), and others have to drink in secret. From my experience, I see more Muslim men drinking than women. I think that is because the men have a lot more freedom to go out without being questioned about what they are doing…. While women have stricter rules… Of course.
There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. In fact, research shows that moderate drinking can have some pretty good health benefits. As long as it is not abused, there is no harm. I understand that too much alcohol can be harmful…. just like too much sugar, red meat and salt can be bad for you.
It just seems like Islam has this obsession with control. “God” needs to micro-manage everything in your daily life.
The way I see it, it’s perfectly fine to have a good time as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. And since I don’t believe in the afterlife, I would like to enjoy the ONLY life that I have before I am gone. I am not going to wait for these imaginary “rivers of wine” that the Quran promises.
That’s it for now…. I have to go because I am late for happy hour.
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