Wine: Allah's Provision or Shaitan's Abomination?
Muslim: You cannot point out a single contradiction in the Qur'an.
Response: Muhammad held contradictory views regarding the benefit of wine and other alcoholic drinks.
In the early days of his mission, Muhammad claimed the strong
drink made from dates or grapes was a sign of Allah's goodly
provision to humanity. He said it was an evident proof and a
visible sign of Allah's goodness to a person who had spiritual
wisdom, that is, a believer knows Allah’s goodness when they
consider the blessings of wine. Initially, Muslims were permitted
to drink the fermented beverages of dates or grapes. This can be
seen from the following verse from the Qur'an.
And from the fruits of date-palms and grapes, you derive strong
drink (this was before the order of the prohibition of the
alcoholic drinks) and a goodly provision. Verily, therein is indeed
a sign for people who have wisdom. An-Nahl 16:67
The words within the parentheses were here added by the translators
of the Qur'an. The translator warns the reader that this verse is
not to be obeyed, because it has been replaced (i.e., abrogated) by
another verse in the Qur’an. When there is a contradiction in the
Qur’an, the theory of abrogation 2 (naskh) is invoked, and the last
verse on the topic takes precedence over prior verses.
Apparently, Allah and Muhammad flip-flopped quickly on the
advisability of wine.
Afterwards, Muhammad said that alcoholic drink had both good and bad
features. In the first verse, there is nothing negative written
about wine. However, Muhammad gradually was changing his mind about
wine, so here he said that wine had some benefits as well as some
negative features. He seemed undecided on the issue. He told them
not to spend more money than they should on wine and gambling.
They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and
gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men,
but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." And they ask
you what they ought to spend. Say: "That which is beyond your
needs." Thus Allâh makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may
give Thought." al-Baqarah 2:219.
As time went on, he grew weary of his followers coming to prayer in
a drunken state. It is not too hard to imagine the frustration that
Muhammad must have experienced when he tried to lead his followers
in prayer while his faithful companions (Sahabah) were too
inebriated to follow his guidance. While praying, they were babbling
words, not knowing what they were saying in their drunkenness. To
solve the problem, Muhammad claimed that his earlier revelations in
the unchanging Qur'an needed to be changed and that Allah had given
him a new revelation, commanding his disciples to come to prayers
sober enough to know what they were saying. Muhammad must have
wondered why Allah had said wine was a ‘goodly provision’ and ‘a
sign for people who have wisdom’, as he listened to his drunken
babblers praying without any wisdom in the mosque (masjid).
O you who believe! Approach not AsSalât (the prayer) when you are
in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter,
nor when you are in a state of Janâba, (i.e. in a state of sexual
impurity and have not yet taken a bath) except when travelling on
the road (without enough water, or just passing through a mosque),
till you wash your whole body. And if you are ill, or on a journey,
or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have
been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no
water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your
faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allâh is Ever OftPardoning,
OftForgiving. An-Nisa 4:43.
The last words of Muhammad on the topic banned all alcoholic drinks
because they are an abomination of Satan. These verses prohibited
completely the drinking of any alcoholic beverages. Muhammad was
upset with the sight of Muslims being drunken gamblers who were
hating and fighting each other. In addition, drunkenness was keeping
them from attending prayers. Previously, Muhammad said they may
come to prayers only when they were sober. So, if they weren’t
sober, they had a divine reason to skip the regular prayers. With
the prohibition of all alcohol, Muhammad took this excuse away.
O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks),
gambling, AlAnsâb, and AlAzlâm (arrows for seeking luck or
decision) are an abomination of Shaitân's (Satan) handiwork. So
avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be
successful. Shaitân (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred
between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and
hinder you from the remembrance of Allâh and from As-Salât (the
prayer). So, will you not then abstain? Al-Ma'idah 5:90-91
In conclusion, at first the Qur'an claims that alcoholic drinks are
a goodly provision and a sign of Allah's beneficence to all
humankind. However, in the end, the Qur'an claims that alcoholic
drinks are an abomination of Satan. So, there is a clear
contradiction between the claim that alcoholic drinks are a sign of
Allah's bountifulness; and, when he later claimed, alcoholic drinks
are an abomination of Shaitan.
Yet, Muhammad promised his faithful followers that they will enjoy
rivers of pure sealed wine in Paradise. These rivers of wine were,
and they still are, a powerful motivation to murder in the Cause of
Allah (i.e., Jihad). This suggests too that, in the beginning of
Muhammad's military career in Medina, he may have found that, when
his soldiers were under the influence of alcohol, they were more
ruthless soldiers who were more willing to slaughter their innocent
victims than when they were sober.
Verily, Al-Abrâr (the pious who fear Allâh and avoid evil) will be
in delight (Paradise). On thrones, looking (at all things). You
will recognise in their faces the brightness of delight. They will
be given to drink pure sealed wine. The last thereof (that wine)
will be the smell of musk, and for this let (all) those strive who
want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allâh).
It (that wine) will be mixed with Tasnîm. A spring whereof drink
those nearest to Allâh. Al-Mutaffifîn 83:22-28.
It is commonly known that alcohol reduces a person's moral
conscience and inhibition to do evil deeds. So, it is quite
possible that in his early militant days Muhammad found that wine
diminished the ability of his soldiers to take moral responsibility
for their evil deeds. Perhaps, alcohol numbed their natural human
feelings towards their innocent victims who pleaded for mercy from
their swords. These cries for mercy fell heedlessly upon the dulled
conscience of Muhammad's soldiers who had been taught that the
bloody sword serves in Allah's Cause.
However, later, when Muhammad's power was established, and he had
the responsibility of governing the nascent Muslim nation and of
guiding its religious ritual, it was disadvantageous to have
Muslims in a drunken state (see An-Nisa 4:43). So, in the end,
Muhammad banned all alcohol, claiming it was an abomination of
Shaitan. However, he was not brave enough to ban wine for all time.
He promised Muslims that paradise flowed with rivers of wonderful
sweet-smelling wine and those who strived in Allah’s cause will
enjoy its refreshing delights in the future.
In conclusion, the Qur'an states that wine is a sign of blessing
from Allah and then states that it is an abomination of Shaitan.
This is a contradiction for rational thinkers. However, Muslims
apply doctrine of abrogation to gloss over the internal
inconsistencies of the Qur'an. If Allah were the Unchanging One,
then why did Allah have to abrogate portions of His own Qur'an so
Last edited 07/21/2002
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