Question and Answer about Alcohol, Intoxicants

by Akeem Alao
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By Najam Najmi Najam Najmi

I’d appreciate it if you could help me answer a question based on Islamic teachings.

Question:

Is it prohibited to sell Alcohol? In a restaurant or gas station, etc. as a person who owns the business or as a person who works there?

Answer

AlHamdu Lillah may peace, and blessings be upon the last and final Messenger and Prophet of Allah, his family, his companions, those who came after them, and all those who follow the correct guidance and refrain from the deliberate disobedience of His ordained limits.

Every question provides me with an opportunity to study and research the point in consideration and hence helps me learn and understand through further reading. Thank you for providing me this opportunity.

All religions, including Islam, draw the rulings and legislation from the divine scripture(s) and the authentic traditions of the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them all).

People have a choice to follow whatever religion or ideology they want to. Still, they should not claim to belong to a belief system if they don’t obey its legislations and unambiguous orders.

In Surah Aal-Imran (3:7), Almighty Allah says, “It is He (Allah) Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book (Qur’an). In it are ayat that are clear, they are the foundations of the Book, and others not entirely clear (for some people). So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (doubts and trials), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings but Allaah. Moreover, those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it is from our Lord…”

It is natural for people to have a difference of opinion only if there is no clear guidance is found in the divine scripture and the traditions of the Prophet(s).

There are many ayat in the Glorious Qur’an about the prohibition of Alcohol.

Similarly, numerous verses in the New and Old Testament and also in the Hindu scriptures, such as the following:

Almighty Allah has forbidden all Alcohol beverages and intoxicants regardless of names, brand, labels, contents and or concentration, etc.

In Chapter Al-Maidah (5:90-92), He says, “O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, Idol worshiping, and game of chance (the lottery) are abominations of Satan’s work. So strictly avoid all such abomination so that you may be successful. Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allaah and As-Salat (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain? Moreover, Obey Allaah and the Messenger, and beware of even going near (those prohibitions, etc.) and fear the disobedience of Allaah. Then if you turn away, you should know that our Messenger conveys (the orders of Allah) in the clearest way.”

Following are some of the ahadith on the prohibition of everything related to Alcohol and intoxicants.

Saheeh Al-Bukhari (# 1212) and Saheeh Muslim (#1581) narrated from Sayedina Jabir Ibn Abdullah (RA) that at the time of the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah and His Messenger have forbidden the sale of alcohol, dead meat, pork, and idols.”

Sayedina Abdullah Ibn Omar (RA) and Anas Ibn Malik (RA) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allaah has cursed alcohol, the one who drinks it, the one who pours it, the one who sells it and consumes it price, profits from it, the one who buys it, the one who makes it, the one for whom it is made, the one who carries it and the one to whom it is carried for (stores and transports).” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi # 1295), Sunan Abu Dawood # 3674, Sunan Ibn Majah # 3380)

Imam Malik Ibn Anas (RAA) narrated from Sayedina Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) said, “A man wanted to gift a small water-skin of wine to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, “Don’t you know that Allah has made it haram?” He said, “No.” Then a man whispered to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked what did he whisper, and the man replied, “I told him to sell it.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The One who made drinking it haram has made selling it also haram.” The man then opened the water-skin and poured out what was in it.”

Al-Bayhaqi and Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya (RAA) narrated from Sayedina Othman (RA) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “Refrain from alcohol, because it is never combined with faith, and one of them is bound to expel the other from the heart.”

Sunan Abu Dawood (# 3488) quoted that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When Allah forbids a thing, He (also) forbids its sale (price, profit, trade, benefits.)”

It is not lawful for a Muslim to knowingly get involved anything that contains even the minuscule quantity of Alcohol. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “anything which intoxicates in a large quantity is proscribed in a minuscule quantity.”

The Old and the New Testament has at least 75 verses prohibiting Alcohol and intoxicants, following are few examples:

Isaiah 5:22 says, “Woe to those who are champions at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks…”

Leviticus 10:8-10 says, “Then the Lord said to Aaron: ‘You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the profane, between the unclean and the clean.”

1 Corinthians 5:11 says, “… you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”

Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery…

Alcohol and intoxicants are also clearly prohibited in Hinduism. There are many verses in Hindu scriptures such as in the books of Manu Smriti, the Narada Purana, Bhagavata Purana, and Skanda Purana strictly forbid the consumption of Alcohol. For example, as follows:

In Manu Smriti Chapter 9:235 says, “A priest-killer, a liquor drinker, a thief and a violator of his guru’s marriage bed – all of these, and each separately should be known as men who committed a major crime.”

In Manu Smriti Chapter 9:238 says, “These miserable men – whom no one should eat with, no one should sacrifice for, no one should read to, and no one should marry – must wander the earth excommunicated from all religions.”

People send me articles, researches, and studies, and argue about the health benefits of Red wine. I show them comparatively higher benefits of eating vegetables and fruits, stop smoking and drinking, injecting and snorting stuff, regularly exercising, sleeping and waking up early, yoga, fasting, and of course, other religious practices, etc. and their arguments stop cold.

Some people believe that it is OK to eat food cooked in Alcohol as it burns off during cooking.

In a recent study Mayo Clinic concluded, “Many people believe that because Alcohol is sensitive to heat, it is eliminated with cooking. However, how much alcohol content is removed with heat depends on the type and time of cooking.

For instance, if you add beer or wine to boiling liquid, then immediately remove it from the heat, 85 percent of the alcohol content will remain. If you light the Alcohol, as in flambé dishes, 75 percent will remain.

Even after simmering the dish for one and a half hours, it will still have 20 percent of the original alcohol content. It is only if you simmer the mixture for two or more hours, (as you would with a wine-based beef casserole), that as little as five to 10 percent of the original alcohol content remains.” (End quote).

There is no compulsion to follow anything in any divine religion; it is a matter of choice to either accept and enter or reject and get out. In other words, people have a right to follow the legislation or leave that religion. However, they are NOT authorized to bend the rules and legislation as they wish for profit or convenience.

With His Infinite Mercy and Wisdom, The Almighty has already described all limitations and allowances in His Book. Once something is decided and ordained by Him, there is no need or necessity of debating or finding any other interpretation.

Almighty Allah has ordained us to completely cut off any kind to involvement with Alcohol and intoxicant trade and consumption in any way, shape, or form. The prohibition of selling or working where Alcohol is made, sold, stored, served, or consumed is evident in proven from the religious texts. It is equally sinful whether a person doesn’t consume but sells or doesn’t sell it to Muslims but non-Muslims.

The question arises, for a person who calls himself a devout Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, etc. when is it OK to violate the religious legislation(s) and where, when, and how to stop? The choice is simple for those who don’t follow a religion; they need to stop calling themselves a follower of that religion, and then “do what pleases them.”

There are no limits for those who do not call themselves religious or devout Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.

That person is free to do whatever he/she feels likes. The “problem” arises when someone calls himself religious and then uses the name of a religion to violate the fundamental teachings of that religion.

Saheeh Muslim narrated from Sayedina Abu Hurayrah (RAA) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah is Pure and Good and accepts only what is right and pure. He gave the same command to the believers as He gave to all other messengers, saying; “O you who believe, eat good things and act righteously (Al-Qur’an 23:51) and also, “O you who believe, eat of the good and pure that we have provided for you.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:172). Then, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave an example of a man who is tired and dusty of a long journey, and then raises his hands and prays; “O’ my Lord, O’ my Lord; while his earning, food, his drinks, and clothing are from Haram means, he nourishes himself with Haram, how such a person’s prayers could be answered by Allah?”

Sunan At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’ie, and Ad-Darimi narrated from Sayedina Abdullah Ibn Amr (RA) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “The one who casts up the favors he has done, the one who is disobedient to parents, and the one who is involved with alcohol will not enter Paradise.”

Sunan Abu Dawood, narrated by Sayedina Tariq Ibn Suwayd (RA), said, “I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the Alcohol, and he forbade it. I asked him again, and he again forbade it. I asked; O’ Prophet of Allah, is it a cure of any ailment? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No, it is a disease.”

Whether it is an economic downturn, company policy, franchise rules, or any other reason or circumstance, the Halal and Haram remain clearly defined, except when one’s life is threatened due to starvation. Even in that situation, s/he is allowed to consume only enough to save from the starvation and then immediately refrain from it.

Finally, Sayedina Abu Hurayrah (RAA) reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Qur’an came down to show five aspects: what is permissible, what is prohibited, what is firmly fixed, what is obscure, and the parables. So, treat its permissible as permissible, it’s prohibited as prohibited, act upon its firmly fixed, believe in its obscure, and take a lesson from the parables.”

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever abstains from something for the sake of Allah, Allah will compensate him with something better than that.”

I hope this response answers your question. May Almighty Allah continue to guide, bless, and protect you and yours.

I request you to share this response with others as you see appropriate.

I seek forgiveness of Almighty Allah from all my sins, mistakes, and misunderstandings in all matters and deeds.

Thank you, WaSalamu Alaikum.

Najam Han
nnajmi@MediationNJ.com

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