At the present time alcohol consumption appears to be on the increase all over the world. As a result of this most countries have to face growing problems arising from alcohol use and alcoholism. Quite apart from the cost to human health this results in a substantial economic loss due to road and industrial accidents, work absenteeism, and the costs of treating and rehabilitating alcoholic persons.
Islam freed the Medina society from this economic pressure which the modern world is suffering under its crushing burden. Governments and large constellations of companies make tremendous profits from the local sale and export of alcohol. They are not prepared to disturb their whole economy in order to get rid of alcoholism at home. Companies are not even ready to reduce their use of 'propaganda' and 'persuasion' which are portrayed in their advertisements and T.V. commercials. But they are ready to donate a negligible sum of their enormous profit to help solve some of the problems of their victimized alcoholics. It is like the shedding of crocodile tears.
Al-Khamr as used in the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith of the Prophet means any material which causes intoxication. It comes from the Arabic word Yakhmur which means to cover or to curtail. Al-Khamr is so called because it covers or curtails the proper functioning of the mind. It is commonly used as a synonym of wine or alcoholic drinks because these were the only intoxicating material used by the Arabs at the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
Many methods of dealing with the problems of alcohol in society have been proposed and experimented with throughout man's history. These have included total prohibition; many and varied types of legislative control to regulate the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages and the nationalization of the alcohol industry. None can be aid to have solved the problem.
The basis of the attitude of Islam to the question of alcohol consumption has been little understood in Western countries. The prohibition of alcohol in the Holy Qur'an and its effects in the daily life of Islamic peoples have been judged on the basis of prohibition results in countries such as the US.
Since antiquity alcohol has been used not only as a social lubricant, aperitif and source of pleasure but also as a remedy for many different ailments and diseases ranging from insomnia and indigestion to heart attacks and as an anesthetic. The list of diseases for which alcohol was used as a remedy was indeed very long.
The Arabs in Jahilia (pre-Islam) period used alcohol to boost courage and benevolence. They also used it as a remedy for their ailments and diseases. There are many Hadiths to show how the new converts tried to convince the Prophet (pbuh) that they used alcohol only as a remedy, and asked for his permission to continue doing so. The Prophet (pbuh) emphatically denied the benefits of liquor as a remedy and clearly mentioned it as a cause of ailment and disease and not a remedy for any disease.
Muslim, Abu Da'ood and Tirmizi narrate the following Hadith: "A man called Tariq Al Joofi came to the Prophet (PBUH) and asked permission to consume liquor (alcohol), the Prophet refused. The man said: I use it and prescribe it as a medicine. The Prophet (pbuh) answered: 'It is a disease and ailment.'"
Another Hadith says that a man called Tariq ibn Swaid Al Hadrami came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: "O Messenger of God, In our land we have vineyards and we make wine and drink." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Stop drinking." The man proclaimed: "We use it as a remedy for the sick." The Prophet said: "It's no remedy. It is an illness itself." (Narrated by Muslim)
Abu Da'ood narrated this Hadith: "God has made for every illness a cure, but never get your cure by things prohibited." Al-Bukhari also narrated a similar Hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) said: "God didn't make your remedy in any of the things prohibited."
Alcoholic drinks are the only poison that is licensed in many countries. However, Islam took a clear attitude towards alcoholic drinks more than 1400 years ago. Islam prohibits such drinks. Any drink that causes drunkenness is prohibited in Islam regardless of the matter it is made from and regardless of the quantity.
According to Islam, if too much of a drink causes drunkenness, then any small quantity of this drink is prohibited, because all alcoholics start with small quantities, then they become the slaves of alcohol.
Following is a detailed study of some of the misconceptions about the curative powers of alcohol and the many problems associated with alcohol consumption.
Alcoholic drinks, which are prohibited by Islam, have a destructive effect on the nervous system through the direct toxic effect. Besides, alcohol may lead to alcoholism with its psychological and mental troubles such as convulsion and hallucination. Further, alcohol leads to malnutrition caused by inflammations in the digestive system, repeated vomiting, loss of appetite, and bad absorption in the digestive system.
The alcoholic becomes careless, selfish, easily provoked, and suspicious. He may suffer paranoia. The alcoholic may end up being hated by his wife and children. He suffers from melancholy. He may then end up committing suicide for he has no reason to live for. An alcoholic may suffer from hallucination: he may think he sees unreal ghosts or hear unreal voices or smell unreal scents. Alcohol causes decay in the cells of the brain and the cortex. This may cause alcoholic psychosis and loss of memory. In this stage, the alcoholic loses the ability to distinguish the concrete from the abstract and the real from the unreal. He cannot even know the day or the place. The alcoholic loses the ability to calculate, to add, or subtract the easiest numbers. The alcoholic cannot remember the most recent incidents in his life.
The alcoholic may become unable to stand up without losing his balance. When he walks, he staggers. When he speaks, he slurs.
Scientists and governments now do their best to solve the problem of drunkenness and alcoholic drinks, but in vain. In contrast, Islam solved this problem by means of one single verse in the Holy Quran, where alcoholic drinks were prohibited fourteen centuries ago. Once you believe in Allah, you accept and submit to His orders and all your problems are solved.
Islam prohibited all kinds of alcoholic drinks 1400 years ago. Islam did not wait for scientific research to prove the destructive effects of alcohol on human body and human mind. In Islam, the principle is simple, clear, and logical: prevention is better than cure. In other civilizations, alcoholic drinks are allowed and then problems occur. It is then that doctors, psychologists, and sociologists start trying to solve the problems caused by alcohol. Islam does not only prohibit drinking alcoholic drinks, but also prohibits making them. Islam also prohibits carrying, selling, or buying such drinks. According to Islam, if something is prohibited, all means to it are also prohibited. Also according to Islam it is no use to forbid something and allow means leading to it at the same time. If alcoholic drinks are prohibited, all means to them are prohibited; Islam prohibits the making, transporting, importing, exporting, buying, and selling of such drinks. In Islam, alcohol is not allowed and problems are not given the chance to occur.
It was believed that alcoholic drinks function as appetizers, but this is against facts. Alcoholic drinks function as appetizers for the first week or month only, then soon the stomach and other parts of the digestive system become inflamed. Infections and ulcers begin to show up; vomiting starts; all appetite is lost.
The gastroscope shows that any small quantity of alcohol causes an inflammation in the inner membrane of the stomach. Some people believe that a little alcohol has no harm, but this is scientifically not true. Further, as we know, all alcoholics started with small quantities, then they found themselves chronic cases of alcoholism. A person who drinks occasionally may become an alcoholic under the pressure of any psychological shock or emotional problem or social crisis. This shows us the wisdom of Allah; in Islam all alcoholic drinks are prohibited no matter how small the quantity is. Alcohol, if drunk repeatedly, causes stomach inflammations and the death of stomach cells. As a result, stomach acids decrease and result in bad digestion. Further, many microbes pass without being destroyed by the acid, which is destroyed by alcohol itself. The decrease of the stomach acid leads to a decrease in vitamin B 12 and causes severe anemia. This chronic inflammation of the stomach is accompanied with paleness, fast pulse, and heart failure. Further, this stomach inflammation may develop a probable ulcer, and then a probable stomach cancer. All these troubles are caused by alcohol.
It was also believed that alcoholic drinks cause warmth in the human body. But facts prove that it is only a false warmth caused by the widening of outer blood vessels. But if the drunkard is exposed to cold weather, he loses all his warmth and energy and may die of cold thinking he is enjoying warmth.
Alcohol hits the brain mercilessly. Firstly, alcohol has a direct destructive anesthetic effect on the brain. Secondly, the brain is damaged by the lack of blood that reaches it owing to the hardening of blood vessels and heart failure. Thirdly, the brain suffers the anemia that accompanies alcoholism. If the brain is damaged, all problems begin to arise, one after the other. Alcohol has a tremendous effect on the brain, the cortex, and the nervous system in general. The cortex cells are in charge of controlling ma n muscles and systems in the human body.
If a driver is drunk, he cannot control his speed or react to emergency cases or avoid accidents. When a man is drunk, he cannot observe, judge, or react well. A drunken person loses much of his mental and physical efficiency, no matter how small the drunken quantity of alcohol. Even if a person is accustomed to alcohol, his abilities fall off when he drinks alcohol. A person who has drunk alcohol loses some of his abilities and senses: he cannot see, taste, or smell as a normal person does. His comprehension ability and muscular balance fall off too. Research has shown that 50% of death cases in some countries are caused directly or indirectly by alcoholic drinks.
Alcoholic drinks have a
very bad influence on the most valuable organ in the human body, i.e., the
brain. Besides, alcohol increases the secretion of stomach acids, which will
later on cause stomach inflammation and stomach ulcer. If a person has already
got an ulcer in his stomach, one glass of wine is enough to cause bleeding
in the stomach or a hole in that poor organ.
Continuous drinking of alcohol drinks ends up with sexual impotency. This shows us the wisdom of prohibiting alcohol in Islam. To add, some bad alcohols may cause complete blindness and heart failure owing to their severe toxiy.
The danger of alcoholic drinks, which are prohibited by Islam, is that alcohol leads to more alcohol. The sons of an alcoholic tend to be alcoholics too. In other words, alcohol may easily push its drinker to the catastrophe of alcoholism, which is a fatal blow to both the mind and the body.
In these days, countries
that allow alcohol are suffering from it and the number of alcoholics is
increasing rapidly. In the U.S.A., for example, the number of alcoholics
has increased from 4,000,000 in the 1960's to 10,000,000 in the 70's.
The alcoholic may develop some infections in the mouth, which are severely painful to the alcoholic. Further, some microbes may attack the throat of the alcoholic and cause a severe infection there. This throat infection makes swallowing and breathing extremely difficult for the alcoholic.
At the beginning alcohol motivates appetite. But soon later, most of the digestive organs become inflamed; the stomach acid decreases; the digestive process slows down; appetite for food disappears. Some people in some countries think that wine and other alcoholic drinks are appetizers and are served with almost all meals. But this is nothing more than a common mistake. Alcohol functions as an appetizer for a few meals only. Later, alcohol becomes a killer of appetite and a destroyer of the digestive system starting from the mouth until the rectum.
The alcoholic usually has a headache. So he takes a great deal of aspirin and its derivatives. Besides, the alcoholic usually smokes. So aspirin plus cigarettes plus anxiety plus the toxity of alcohol itself pushes him into a vicious circle of emotional anxiety.
Alcohol has a destructive effect on the liver also. A person who drinks alcoholic for ten years will most probably have problems in his liver. By means of the electron microscope, the examiner of the liver can easily discover the effect of alcohol on the liver in twenty-four hours after drinking. In the liver, the alcohol hits the nucleus of the cells there first. When the nuclei of the liver cells die, the cells die and cease to multiply. Besides, the liver fails to oxidize fats, which therefore gather in and around the liver. The gathering of these fats around the liver will end up with the complete failure of the liver. Because of alcohol, the liver cannot transform carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Because of alcohol, the liver fails to remove poisons from the body. This will cause the increase of the ration of poisons in the blood. These poisons affect the activity of the brain and disturb the drunkard's emotions, behavior, and mental abilities. He/she soon fails to write well; his/her hand shakes; his breathing becomes difficult; his belly swells; and his temperature rises.
Some people think that some alcoholic drinks are less dangerous than others. But the fact is that all alcoholic drinks are equally dangerous, because if the alcohol percentage is small in a drink, the glass of that drink is made large. This means that the quantity of alcohol is the same in each glass of drink. That is why Islam prohibits all types of drinks and prohibits drinking any small quantities. Islam prohibits the drinking of even a drop of any alcoholic drink, because problems always start this way; a small glass on a social occasion, then another glass on another social occasion, then eventually buying alcoholic drinks to consume at mealtime, then getting drunk, and then becoming an alcoholic with all his pains, his sufferings, his diseases, and problems he creates for his wife, children, and family.
In conclusion, alcoholic drinks effect and damage all systems of the body. Alcohol damages the nervous system, the digestive system, and the blood system directly and it damages all other systems indirectly.
What kind of life will a person lead if he has infections, inflammation, ulcers, and cancers everywhere in his body? Also, what kind of life is it when a person loses memory, loses appetite, loses mental abilities, and has hallucinations?
Islam has saved humanity from all this torture by guiding us to the right way. Because of our religion, Muslims know the right way from the wrong way and Allah has given us the mind with which we have to choose and bear responsibility. All thanks is due to Allah, who gave us the Holy Quran in which to follow and lead us on the right path of Islam.
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
|Letters to the Editor|
|The Charge of|
|Alcohol - The|
|The Kid's Corner|
|Women in Islam|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|Miracles of the Qur'an|
|Stories of the Sahabah|
|Sayings of the Prophet|
|Death - Are|