Posts tagged ‘sanctions’

March 10th, 2011

Islam’s Prohibition of Alcohol Consumption Started as Sanctions Against Non-Muslims

Today’s Reuters news article on “Alcoholic drinks market booming in Muslim Gulf” might be a surprise to many because it is widely known Islam prohibits the use of alcohol. Do you know that Muslims used to drink alcohol during Prophet Muhammad’s time and it was only outlawed later in his life? Do you also know Muslims are promised alcohol in paradise?

Muslims in my home area in Kenya used to mock drunkard non-Muslims who staggered home after drinking sprees. There was one thing most of them did not acknowledge publicly: although Islamic teachings prohibit alcohol consumption here on earth, they also teach that it will be in ample supply in paradise. Alcohol will be flowing like a river, and Muslims will be enjoying it. The Qur’an promises wine that tastes delightful.[1]

Why would Islam ban the use of alcohol here on earth but sanction its use in paradise? There are a few reasons. The Hadith states, “Some people drank alcoholic beverages in the morning [of the day] of the Uhud battle and on the same day they were killed as martyrs, and that was before wine was prohibited.”[2] Wine was popular among Muslims even in 625 AD—fifteen years after the advent of Islam. Even on a momentous day of a major battle it was consumed in large quantities. Many drank Muslim warriors were killed.

Another reason the Hadith gives for the banning of alcohol was the scarcity of dates in Medina. Instead of “importing” dates from neighboring territories out of Muslim control to keep up with the demand, alcohol was banned outright by Muhammad.[3] What an indirect economic sanction against those who were not receptive toward Islam!

Some Muslims still believe alcohol is permissible. Prominent Egyptian Sunni Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa showing that “there was no religious ban on consuming drinks with a minute amount of alcohol in them if it was formed naturally through the process of fermentation. He quoted the rule derived from the sayings of the Prophet that if drinking a lot of alcohol makes you intoxicated then drinking a little is also forbidden.”

Islam is an invention of Prophet Muhammad. Had the revelations he received come from God, there is no way there would have been a double standard. Why would alcohol be permissible in paradise but forbidden on earth? Why would the ban only become necessary because Muhammad and his fellow Muslims faced the scarcity of dates? These are questions we should ask our Muslim friends. They need to realize Islam was an invention of Prophet Muhammad. If the Almighty God had had a hand in it, there would have been consensus in his teachings.


Hussein Wario is a former Kenyan Sunni Muslim. He is the author of Cracks in the Crescent. He blogs here. You can listen to his testimony here or read it here.

[1] Suratul Al-Muhammad, 47:15.

[2] Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 142. Bracket mine.

[3] Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 69, Number 486.