By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi
It makes no difference if the quantity consumed is less or more; liquor is absolutely Harām; whether pure or mixed. Thus even if a person licks a single drop it is Harām whether he gets intoxicated or not. In the same way if liquor is consumed by mixing it with other things, it is still Harām.
Allama Hilli (r.a.) has quoted an authentic tradition from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he said:
“If more of it intoxicates, then to consume even a bit of it is Harām.”
A person enquired from Imam (a.s.), “but I dilute it with water?”
Imam (a.s.) told him,
“A Harām thing does not become Halāl by mixing it with water. Fear Allah, refrain from partaking of it.” (Mustanad ush-Shia)
Umar Ibn Hanzala says that he enquired from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.): “Does it matter if as much water is mixed in wine so that it is no more intoxicating?”
Imam (a.s.) replied: “No! By Allah it is not. Even if a drop of wine falls into a well full of water it does not become Halāl. Rather the whole well has to be emptied.” (Furu’ al-Kāfi)
Ibn Wahab has narrated this tradition from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.): “Every intoxicant is Harām. Something that intoxicates only when consumed in large quantities, is also not allowed to be taken even in a lesser quantity.”
The narrator says, “I asked, ‘Then if a Harām thing is mixed in a huge quantity of water, does it become permissible?’”
Imam (a.s.) flailed his arms twice, indicating emphatically that it does not. (Furu al-Kāfi)
Liquor is harmful irrespective of the quantity consumed. Even if a drop of the poison enters the body it has harmful effects on it, whether apparent immediately or not. If you mix a few buckets of red dye in a pond of water, the whole pond water turns red. But on the other hand if you throw a glassful of ink in a pond of clear water it would not bring about any appreciable change in its appearance, yet, could you say that the ink has not affected the water at all? Certainly not! If the water is subjected to the process of distillation the glassful of ink could be recovered. If it enters the body it will cause harm.
A person who tastes liquor, one drop at a time, soon gets addicted to it till he needs to drink more and more of it. Consequently a stage is reached when he is unable to rid himself of this habit howsoever hard he may try. A stone is eroded when water drips upon it over a period of time. Similarly alcohol erodes the liver and other cells of the body. Grapes, raisins and dates, when unfermented have medicinal properties and are wholesome and beneficial to the body. But as soon as fermentation sets in these fruits and wine is produced they turn harmful and prohibited.
If an intoxicant is a liquid in its natural state, in addition to its being Harām, it is also najis (impure). But if an intoxicating substance is solid in its natural form and it is available as a solution, like opium or hemp for consumption, it is not najis, but its consumption is Harām like that of wine.
Giving Liquor to Children
Offering liquor to others is also Harām even if it is to a young, naive child. The book, ‘Mustanad ush.-Shia’ contains Three traditions regarding this topic. The gist of these traditions is that one who is responsible for serving liquor to young children will have to drink an equal quantity of the boiling water of Hell, on the day of Qiyāma, by Allah (S.w.T.)’s command.
Liquor at the Dinner Table
If liquor is served on a table, it is Harām to sit there and eat even if one does not touch the wine. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informs that the Holy Prophet (S) said: “Accursed, accursed is the one who sits at a table where wine is being served.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia)
The Holy Prophet (S) also says: “One who believes in Allah and the last day, must not even sit at the table where wine is kept.” (Masālik of Shahīd Thani)
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: “Do not sit with drunkards because when the curse descends it engulfs all the people in the company of the drunkards.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia, Chapter 33)
Some scholars have stated that it is not permitted to be in the company of people where anything Harām is being done. For example, backbiting about a Muslim. It is then obligatory on a person to leave immediately if possible and be free of the sin of just being in this company. Also, if by his leaving, the others will discontinue their sinful action, it is obligatory on him to do so.
Wine and Medicine
According to the traditions of the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) to take wine as medicine is also Harām. Rather, the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) have prohibited the consumption of any intoxicant as medicine. The jurists unanimously agree that one should refrain from consuming any intoxicant to cure a disease or to ward off pain. Allah (S.w.T.) has not reposed any curative effect in any intoxicant.
Certain Mujtahids have stated that there are three exceptions where an intoxicant could be taken as medicine.
First of all the person should know that his malady is curable.
Secondly it must be that if this treatment is not taken it would result in death or extreme pain. Thirdly, there should be no other cure for this ailment.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the patient can be given an intoxicant as medicine but only just enough to cure his disease.
But as we have stated, Allah (S.w.T.) has not bestowed any cure in a Harām thing. Hence the above conditions are mentioned just for the sake of an obligation. Such a situation can hardly arise.
Wine Contains No Cure
Ibn abi Yazūr told Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.): “I am suffering from a disease. When the pain intensifies I drink some wine of grapes and the pain subsides”. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Do not drink. It is Harām; it is nothing but Shaitan who is preying upon you to involve you in sins. When he loses all hope of making you drink he will leave you.”
Ibn abi Yazūr returned to his native place, Kufa. He was in intense pain and his people brought for him wine of grapes and persuaded him to drink it. Ibn abi Yazūr said, “By Allah! I will not taste a drop of it.”
He bore the pain for some days. At last his pain receded and he never suffered from it for the rest of his life.
Drunkard on the Death-bed
Abu Basir says that Umm Khalid Abadiya presented herself before Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) when Abu Basir was also present. Umm Khalid said,
“May I be sacrificed for you, on the day of Qiyāma. I will tell Allah that I have done as commanded by Ja’far ibn Muhammad (a.s.). Physicians have told me to knead the flour with grape wine and eat the bread. This will cure the terrible pain of my heart. I ask you, shall I do this?”
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) replied to Umm Khalid,
“No! By Allah I will not permit you even a drop of wine. Don’t taste even a drop of it. Otherwise when your soul reaches here (Imam pointed towards his throat) you will only regret.” Then Imam (a.s.) asked Umm Khalid thrice.
“Have you understood?”
“Yes”, replied Umm Khalid.
A student of Fuzail Ibn Ayaz was on his deathbed. Fuzail came to him and sitting near his head began to recite Surah Yasin (al-Qur’an, chapter 36). The disciple told his teacher, “Do not recite the Qur’an!” Fuzail became silent. Then he began to urge his disciple to repeat “La ilaha illallah”. The student said:
“I will not repeat this formula because I am disgusted with it!” and he died in the same condition.
Fuzail Ibn Ayaz was extremely perturbed. He returned home after completing his duties and went to sleep. He saw his student undergoing punishment. He asked him, “What is the reason of your being deprived of faith (Imān) at the time of your death? You were one of my best students.”
The student replied: “There are three reasons, firstly, I used to backbite too much, secondly, I used to be jealous, thirdly, a physician had prescribed for my malady a cup of wine every year. He told me that if I do not drink, the disease would never be cured. Every year I drank one cup of wine.” (Safinat’ul-Bihār Vol. I page 428)
Numerous traditional reports mention that “Harām” things do not contain any cure. In the same way one must refrain from taking any medicine that contains even a drop of najis alcohol.
It is stated on page no 380 of the Journal of Anjuman Tablighate Islami: “There is not a single doctor today who considers liquor to have any cure. No doctor permits even a small quantity of the same. If a physician prescribes liquor as a medicine for some cure, it must be understood that his medical knowledge is deficient.”
A hundred years ago some of the doctors and physicians believed that wine had some curative effects. But recent researches show that wine not only lacks any beneficial value but is in fact harmful. The molecules of alcohol on entering the blood stream affect the white blood corpuscles. These corpuscles perform the function of protecting the human body against infectious disease.
The white blood cells engulf the disease causing germs and exterminate them. Anything that impairs the functioning of these blood cells exposes a person to numerous diseases because his body is unable to protect itself. Some people think that wine helps in digestion. This is just a false notion. The reality is just the opposite. Actually wine causes indigestion. The food hardens in the stomach and becomes indigestible. You can experiment by pouring wine upon a piece of cooked soft meat. It will become tough like leather, and absolutely unchewable. Wine also destroys the digestive juices secreted by the stomach and leads to flatulence and indigestion. Wine destroys appetite. Besides, alcohol causes addiction and wine taken for medicinal purpose soon becomes an addiction that is difficult to get rid of. We may observe that some alcoholics appear perfectly healthy even after years of addiction. But what is apparent may be different from reality. If a medical check up is carried out, it will reveal the deteriorating condition of the internal organs and the digestive system of these addicts. Besides, often the maladies are not associated with alcohol and are attributed to other factors. It should be also noted that alcohol affects some people more than others. Some have a hereditary capacity to withstand the rouging effects of alcohol. They should thank Providence for it and refrain from drinking so that they can protect their future generation from developing a weakness for it.
By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi