By Laura El Alam
Which highly addictive drug is readily available in stores worldwide, sanctioned by most societies, and openly consumed everywhere from sporting events to business meetings? If you guessed alcohol, you are correct.
Because it is so ubiquitous, many people don’t think of alcohol as a drug. While it may seem harmless, it is actually a depressant that slows down vital functions—resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, and inability to react quickly. It reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts judgment.
Nevertheless, alcohol consumption is so prevalent in many cultures that some people cannot imagine a world without it. Drinking is a fundamental part of their holidays, celebrations, entertainment, and home life. They see liquor as a way to help them relax after a long day, or to lose their inhibitions in social situations.
While the majority of people recognize that alcohol use can become dangerous, many insist that “moderate” consumption is fine. Unfortunately, because of its addictive nature, alcohol is often misused and over-consumed, causing disastrous effects to the user of the drug as well as people around them.
But isn’t it okay to have a drink now and then?
In the Quran, God addresses the complexity of alcohol, acknowledging that there is some benefit in it: “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.” [Quran 2:219]
Because the harmfulness of alcohol outweighs any merits it might have, God has prohibited its use. This blanket rule is for the safety of each individual as well as society as a whole.
Undoubtedly, the world would be better off without alcohol. In its 2018 Global Status report, the World Health Organization reports that:
- 3.3 million deaths per year are due to the harmful use of alcohol.
- Over 200 health conditions are linked to harmful alcohol use, ranging from liver diseases, road injuries and violence, to cancers, cardiovascular diseases, suicides, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
- Among people ages 15 to 49, alcohol misuse was the first-leading risk factor for premature death and disability.
- People have approximately seven times increased risk for a suicide attempt soon after drinking alcohol, and this risk further increases to 37 times after heavy use of alcohol.
Alcohol does not only have disastrous effects on those who consume it; its repercussions affect the innocent people around them. According to WHO:
- Families suffer “Those most seriously harmed by another’s drinking are likely to be other members of the household. To the extent that drinking, and particularly heavy drinking, is more common among adult males, the others in the family – the female partner and children – are particularly likely to be adversely affected, both in terms of the drinker’s behavior after drinking and in terms of shared family resources being expended on or in the course of the drinking.”
- Harm to unborn children “The global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy in the general population amounts to 9.8% Some of the most common health problems [due to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders] are congenital malformations, chromosomal abnormalities, prenatal and postnatal growth delays, intellectual disability, behavioral disorders, speech and language difficulties, visual and audiological impairments, cardiac deformities and urogenital problems.”
- Death and violence “Globally an estimated 0.9 million injury deaths were attributable to alcohol, including around 370,000 deaths due to road injuries, 150,000 due to self-harm and around 90,000 due to interpersonal violence. Of the road traffic injuries, 187,000 alcohol-attributable deaths were among people other than drivers.”
In banning alcohol completely, Islam is protecting humans from a substance that can easily ensnare them and destroy their lives, as well as the lives of those they love. God in His infinite mercy has provided His rules for our safety. While some people might be able to drink in moderation without harming others, others will become addicted and misuse it. Clearly alcohol abuse is a global phenomenon that causes a great deal of unnecessary deaths, injuries, and psychological problems. Therefore a complete ban is the best way to prevent all the negative repercussions of the drug.
Muslims who follow God’s guidance and refrain from drinking still manage to have fun, relax, manage stress, and celebrate. It might be unusual, these days, to abstain from alcohol completely, but clearly it is the healthiest and most socially responsible choice.
Have more questions? Call 877-WhyIslam or visit whyislam.org. You deserve to know!