The mother of every evil

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By Dr. Mohamed Omar

"[Islam] values the moral and spiritual health of a nation as much as its physical well-being. It considers anything that interferes with the normal working of the mind numbs our senses, thereby reducing our level of shame or responsibility, or clouds our perception as harmful (this includes alcohol as well as other drugs altering the mind). And recognizing that different people react quite differently to the same stimulant, it does not leave the judgment, as to how much is acceptable to them. Too many people thought they had control over their drinking habit, yet ended up having 'one glass too many.' Islam categorically states that if a substance can destroy the clarity of the mind in large quantities, it is harmful even in minute quantities. Islam, therefore, advocates a total prohibition of narcotic drugs, including alcohol. It forbids the use, not just the abuse of these substances."

Hence, we find Islam completely forbidding the consumption of alcohol, whether in large or small amounts. The Prophet Muhammad said:

"If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is also prohibited."

Yes, there are some benefits to be derived from alcoholic beverages. For example, alcohol can give one strength and confidence; it helps one to relax and, in small quantities, is even good for the health of one's heart. However, as the Glorious Qur'an states, the harms associated with alcohol far outweigh its benefits. As such, in the final analysis, alcohol is a foe, not a friend of its consumer.

It is perhaps useful to ponder over the following story.

Once upon a time, a bad woman tried to seduce a good man. The righteous man flatly refused. But, determined not to let her prey escape, the woman offered him one of three choices, each one more dastardly than the other: to consume alcohol, to commit adultery, or to murder her child from a previous marriage. If the man refused, she would cry rape.

So, after having pondered his predicament, the pious man chose what he reckoned to be the littlest of the three evils. However, upon taking the alcohol, the man became drunk and then, under the influence of his brain-killing beverage, he killed the child and committed adultery with the wicked woman.

There was an attempt to ban alcoholic beverages in America, also known as The Noble Experiment in the period from 1920 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Unfortunately, the Noble Experiment failed to achieve its goal.

It was only one verse of the Qur'an that made Muslims abstain from drinking forever, which is: "O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, and arrows for seeking luck or decision are an abomination of (Satan's) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful." (Al-Ma'idah 5:90).

It is defiantly the matter of faith which enables the believer to overcome his desire.

Dr. Mohammad Omar is past imam of the Victoria Islamic Center.


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