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How to Help a New Muslim Who’s an Alcoholic

01 November, 2022
Q Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I am a new imam in the US. Yesterday, an American man declared his conversion to Islam al-hamdu lillah. He was addicted to alcohol and had a girlfriend and used to do a lot of haram things. I see that if I told him right now to stop everything haram that he is used to doing at one time, he may reconsider his conversion to Islam. What is the best approach from the Islamic point of view in advising a new Muslim? Jazakum Allahu Khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

  • There is a special approach for new Muslims which depends on teaching them gradually about the principles of Islam.
  • The methodology of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with the people in the early days of Islam in Makkah was built upon strengthening the faith of new Muslims, and after that the Islamic legislation was revealed, especially in the period when the Muslims were in Madinah.
  • Therefore, you are advised to take it easy with this new Muslim. Let him first trust and love you and then teach him step by step to help him make the transition from the darkness of sin to the light of faith.

Responding to your question, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University and a member of the Permanent Fatwa Committee for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), states:

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Al-Bukhari reported from Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said, “The first part of the Quran that came down was a chapter from al-mufassal (the short surahs of the Quran), in which there is mention of Paradise and Hellfire. Then, when the people returned to their Lord, the verses pertaining to the lawful and unlawful were revealed. Had it been that the first revelation was not to drink wine, they would have said: We shall never give up wine, and had it been, do not commit fornication, they would have said: We shall never give up fornication.”

How to approach a New Muslim who is alcoholic

In the light of this hadith, I would recommend that you do not overwhelm a new Muslim with Shariah  details. You may ask a knowledgeable person to mentor the new Muslim, someone like an elder brother. That is likely to cause less confusion for him or her. This is better than having many people teaching him different things that may be conflicting.

Now, that does not mean that you give a new Muslim misinformation when he asks you. We have no authority to change the religion for any reason. Almighty Allah says,

{But say not – for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- “This is lawful, and this is forbidden,” so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah, will never prosper.} (An-Nahl 16:116)

The sins you mentioned are enormities in Islam and should be given priority, but this should be done with wisdom; because he may need the help of a physician, for instance, to help with his addictions.

So, work to enhance his faith, and tell him the truth, but things do not have to be told all at once. It is important to teach people gradually.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.