Islam and alcohol

When you are younger, the thought that you would ever go so far astray as to drink alcohol seems impossible. Unfortunately, sometimes a situation will present itself at a time when a person is, for whatever reason, particularly vulnerable and susceptible and that thing that once seemed impossible begins to be a reality.

Why is alcohol legal if it is really that bad?

When you are younger, especially if you come from a Muslim family, your interest in and knowledge of alcohol will be limited to the fact that it is not allowed and that we don’t do it. This is one of the easier Islamic injunctions to accept without question because there are so many obvious reasons why alcohol should be avoided.

As you grow older, perhaps in your teens your vision blurs a little.

Why is this?

Firstly, you are probably watching film and media and listening to music that is not based on Islamic values. When you were younger you probably did the same, but because the things you watched were for children, there was no allusion to drinking and alcohol. Now, even if the things you are watching are not based on stories about alcohol, there will subliminal acceptance of drinking and alcohol. Whether that is a couple eating out and there being wine on the table, or people going to a party where there is a bar, or people saying ‘let’s go for a drink’; all of this normalises drinking and makes you think it is ok and this influence forces you to begin to question the idea that alcohol is all bad.

Secondly, as you approach later teen years you will start to hear of friends who go to parties, perhaps in older years, who had alcohol or who woke up with hangovers (and survived).

Thirdly, you are in a time of your life where you are questioning the things that your parents have taught you. When you are younger parents give much more ‘black and white’ responses to questions because that is what you can cope with best but as your brain develops you realise some things are not as simple.

You may also have friends who have lovely parents who you know drink alcohol and you start to question; ‘can it really be that bad?

Muslim teachings about alcohol

When the message of Islam first came alcohol was not banned. It is not something like stealing or murder, it is it’s use that makes it bad. Allah says in Qur’an:

”They will ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: “In both there is great evil as well as some benefit for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring.” (Qur’an 2:219)

Here, we learn that alcohol may have some benefit and so the thing that you witness, which is making you wonder, is exactly this. But you should not close your eyes to the evil that comes with alcohol and the consensus among scholars is that it should therefore be left alone completely.

It is easy to see the good side of something when you are seeking it. You may have seen people talking about having a great night after excessive drinking, or seen people drunk and laughing more… when people post pictures on social media they post the good bits…

Alcohol plays a part in most violent and sexual crime. It is a massive cause of physical illness. It plays a significant role in damaging mental health. It is the biggest cause for missing work. It plays a huge role in domestic abuse. It frequently damages relationships and fills people with shame and regret.

Because people have got used to it. It is very difficult to take something like this away when the majority of the nation uses it as a crutch to a greater or lesser degree. Drinking is an inherent part of many businesses and social functions. To ban it would mean economic problems and social restructuring. This would lead to significant short term difficulties. Besides, habits are hard to break especially when everyone shares the habit with you.

There was a period in American history where it was made illegal known as ‘the Prohibition’ and the ‘black market’ that developed as a result of the Prohibition meant that people were still drinking, but crime increased massively and so the law reverted back.

You are blessed living in a liberal society that the choices that you make for the good are really your choices. You are allowed to drink in this country once you are 18 but you choose not to. This is a much better thing than just being forced not to.

You need to reach your own conclusion on it and be comfortable, but you should be genuinely informed about it. Most adults who drink wish that they didn’t or make regular pledges to drink less. It is very obvious from that point alone that despite that most adults do not think that the good outweighs the bad in alcohol, they just struggle to break the habit.

There is no fatwa here. No instruction. No judgement. You need to live your own life and make your own mistakes as it is from mistakes that we learn best. But you do need to be able to make informed decisions about the risks you want to take and not behave recklessly. Try to preserve and develop your deen but do so at your own pace. Be forgiving with your parents. Sometimes they will insist too much, but they do it because they care.

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