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ALCOHOL




By
Sanni K. Yusuf 

Alcohol was common with the Arabs like it is with some Muslims today. It was their way of life. They cherished it as they did love womanizing. They were addicted to it that no meal was considered sumptuous except it had been flushed down the stomach with some cups of wine.

The messengership of the Prophet was what put a halt to the act - though in an order of graduality. First, the addicts were admonished and informed of the inherent dangers in the intake of the substance. Allah said:

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا

(They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “There is great evil in both, as well as some benefit for people—but the evil outweighs the benefit"...) Q2 V219

Since it had not been prohibited, the consumption was still a preponderant phenomenon, but a bit mitigated, unlike before the wahy of the afore-quoted verse. 

The people were on that tempo of self-gratification until another revelation came down at the instance of one who under the influence of liquor recited Suratul Kaafirun against its نزول and معنى. It was like reciting nonsense with confidence. Rather than say: قُل يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُون
(Say, “O you disbelievers!"), لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ (I do *not* worship what you worship)...; he recited: قُل يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُون
(Say, “O you disbelievers!"). أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ (I do worship what you worship). Given this ugly development, the Mighty revealed thus:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ...

(O believers! Do not approach prayer while intoxicated until you are aware of what you say...) Q4 V43.

That still wasn't a prohibition, apparently. It was a discouragement to dissuade the sahabah from the act. While some heeded the caution and lived a life of no-alcohol, others would still take some sips since the تحريم wasn't outright. Characteristically, the sahaba were obedient to their Lord (Allah) and their leader (Muhammad). May the رضى of Allah be upon them. 

Muslims were on the aforementioned until a lucid prohibition finally dropped from the topmost heaven - as usual - at the instance of Umar's suggestion to the Prophet. Umar asked of the Prophet to request an outright prohibition of the substance from Allah. To this, Q5 V90-91 were revealed:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ. إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنْتَهُونَ

(O believers! Intoxicants, gambling, idols, and drawing lots for decisions are all evil of Satan’s handiwork. So shun them so you may be successful. Satan’s plan is to stir up hostility and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling and to prevent you from remembering Allah and praying. Will you not then abstain?)

It is historically noted that swift adherence to the above stipulation led to the flow of alcohol on the streets of Madeenah as though the land were an ocean of water. The companions complied and threw out all they had of the stuff - from the mouths, cups, jugs etc. Merchants stopped the merchandise. Patronisers stopped the purchase. That was 100% السمع و الطاعة. 

The final prohibition was followed by a 40-stroke flogging as عد to breakers of the divine law. It was as such throughout the life of the Prophet until Umar during his reign as caliph spiced it up to 80.

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