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Why Was Alcohol Forbidden Gradually in Islam?

01 July, 2017
Q With New Year's coming up and so many people drinking for this holiday, I began to wonder why alcohol was prohibited in Islam in the way it was. That is to say, why was it prohibited gradually? Can you explain this process and the wisdom behind it?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, the question that we have today is about alcohol, and why it was gradually forbidden in Islam.

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Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, let me do it in two parts: why it’s forbidden at all, and then, why it’s prohibited in the gradual stage-by-stage basis.

Well, first of all, why is it forbidden? Well, God decrees for us things which are either obligatory or forbidden: obligatory because they are so necessary for us, and we might not have done them if they were not made obligatory.

So, He, in His Mercy, guides us to what is right by telling us this is what you have to do. Just as parents may instruct their children who are not old enough to know better. Sometimes, we as adults feel that we know everything. But we don’t know everything.

We don’t have the wisdom of God. He, in His Wisdom, tells us what to do. And that becomes a source of guidance for us. So, alcohol, we know nowadays to have many, many dangers associated with it.

First of all, it’s harmful to the human body if you consume too much consistently. And not only that, it has many social harms. You know, drunkenness leads to road accidents, domestic violence.

And sometimes–if people lose their inhibitions through drinking—and that makes it easier for them to commit crime, sometimes heinous crimes, as murder and so on.

So, why was it gradually implemented? Well, with all of these harms, sometimes people don’t know enough to look at the harms. They look at what they were accustomed to. And Arabia, at the time, people were accustomed to drinking, drinking a lot.

And if it was said to them point-blank, stop doing this. They’re not going to stop immediately, but they were given gradual stages of weaning them off from that.

Aisha Khaja: What verses of the Quran deal with this?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, first of all, there is the second chapter of the Quran—217th  –219th verse—which says that in alcohol there is some benefit but great harm. So, we’re told to reflect, that the harm is greater.

Then, later on in surah five, verse number ninety there’s an absolute prohibition. There’s another verse, as well, that says do not approach prayer while you’re drunken.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

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