Is the Quran or Bible the Word of God? Christianity or Islam?

Wine and Alcohol in Islam

Quran 16:67 permits wine (Arabic: khamr)

Arabic text of Quran 16:67

Arabic text of Quran 16:67

I understand that wine and alcohol are forbidden in Islam.  But can anybody explain comments in the Quran which seem to permit wine?  Shouldn’t alcohol in Islam be permitted?

Here are a few translations of Quran 16:67:

  • And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes– you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who ponder. (Shakir)
  • And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take intoxicant and good provision. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who reason. (Sahih International)
  • And from the fruits of date-palms and grapes, you derive strong drink (this was before the order of the prohibition of the alcoholic drinks) and a goodly provision. Verily, therein is indeed a sign for people who have wisdom. (Muhsin Khan)
  • And of the products of the palms and the vineyards you take to yourselves there from an intoxicant and a fair provision. Surely in that is indeed a sign for a people who consider. (Dr. Ghali)

This verse about the wine that comes from dates and grapes is in the context of other good things that Allah gives:

  • rain from the sky (Quran 16:65)
  • drink from livestock (Quran 16:66)
  • bees and honey from the honeycomb (Quran 16:68)

It seems from the above that alcohol in Islam should be permitted.

The Quran says wine has some benefit

Arabic text of Quran 2:219

Arabic text of Quran 2:219

However, another passage in the Quran speaks less highly of wine.

Here are several translations of Quran 2:219:

  • They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought. (Sahih International)
  • They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: “That which is beyond your needs.” Thus Allah makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give thought.” (Muhsin Khan)
  • They question thee about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great sin, and (some) utility for men; but the sin of them is greater than their usefulness. And they ask thee what they ought to spend. Say: that which is superfluous. Thus Allah maketh plain to you (His) revelations, that haply ye may reflect. (Pickthall)
  • They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.” They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs.” Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider- (Yusuf Ali)
  • They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder (Shakir)
  • They ask you concerning wine and games of chance. Say, “In (both) is great vice, and profits for mankind; and the vice in them is greater than the profit.” And they ask you (concerning) what (things) they should expend. Say, “Liberality.” (Or: clemency) Thus, Allah makes evident the signs to you, that possibly you would meditate (Dr. Ghali)

The Quran identifies wine and alcohol with the defilements of Satan

Arabic text of Quran 5:90-91
Arabic text of Quran 5:90-91

Quran 5:90-91 identifies alcohol with a defilement of Satan on the same level as idolatry and divination, 

  • O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.  Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist? (Sahih International)
  • O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Shaitan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from As-Salat (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain? (Muhsin Khan)
  • O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed. Satan seeketh only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of strong drink and games of chance, and to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from (His) worship. Will ye then have done? (Pickthall)
  • O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain? (Yusuf Ali)
  • O you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan’s work; shun it therefore that you may be successful. The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then desist? (Shakir)
  • O you who have believed, surely wine and games of chance, and altars (for idols) and divining (i.e., divination by arrows or in any other way) are only an abomination of Ash-Shaytan’s (The all-vicious, the Devil) doing, so avoid it, that possibly you would prosper. Surely Ash- Shaytan’s (The all-vicious, the Devil) would only (like) to excite enmity and abhorrence among you by means of wine and games of chance, (Literally: in wine and games of chance) and to bar you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer. Will you then be refraining? (Dr. Ghali)

Quran 5:90-91 is confusing because a few years earlier Muhammad spoke about wine alongside other good things Allah gives to mankind: water, milk, and honey.  Several years later it sounds like Muhammad changed his mind identifying alcohol with the devil and no longer Allah’s good gift to mankind.1

Why was wine permitted to the Jews (Deuteronomy 14:26; Psalm 104:14-15)?  Why did Jesus change water into wine (John 2:1-11)?  Why did the Quran permit wine and change a few years later?

Footnotes

  1. “Hadith has many utterances regarding this theme. Wine, is the key of all evil (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, v. 238; Ibn Madja, Ashriba, bab i). Who drinks wine in this world without repenting it, shall not drink it in the other world (Bukhari, Ashriba, bab i; Muslim, Ashriba, trad. 73, 76-78, etc.). Cursed is he who drinks, buys, sells wine or causes others to drink it (Abu Da’ud, Ashriba, bab 2; Ibn Madja, Ashriba, bab 6; Ahmad b. Hanbal, i. 316; ii. 25, 69, 71, 97, 128, etc.). Who drinks a draught of wine on purpose shall have to drink pus on doomsday (Tayalisi, No. 1134). Prayer of him who drinks wine is not accepted by Allah (Nasa’i, Ashriba, bab. 43; Darimi, Ashriba, bab 3), and faith is incompatible with drinking it (Bukhari, Ashriba, bab i; Nasa’i, Ashriba bab 42, 44). It is even inadvisable to use it as medicine (Muslim, Ashriba, trad. 12; Ahmad b. Hanbal iv. 311, 317 bis etc.); and it is prohibited to use wine for manufacturing vinegar (Tirmidhi, Buyu’, bab. 59; Ahmad b. Hanbal iii. 119, 260 bis). But times will be even worse and there will be people who declare wine allowed (Bukhari, Ashriba, bab 1; Nasa’i, Ashriba, bab. 41, etc.) and so it will be drunk by the generation of the last days (Bukhari, Ashriba, bab i, Ahmad b. Hanbal, iii 176, 202, 213 sq)” (“Khamr” in Encyclopaedia of Islam) []

7 Responses to “Wine and Alcohol in Islam”

  1. M says:

    Wow, I mean, your interpretation is off the hook. In 16:67, there is no wine involved. AT ALL. Its what you interpret it to be…. What you want it to be. and the second verse, yes, Allah said there is some benefit in wine but more evil. Taht is so clear. He is telling you, there is benefit in it, but the harm is greater so stay away from it. How does this say its ok to drink it??? I was born and raised Christians. I am very happy I left it. There is no verses in the Bible about Trinity, none about Jesus saying worship him, but plenty saying not to. Many verses about having a lot of wives though Islam just limited it to 4 instead of 50 or more people used to have. I mean seriously… there is no compulsion in religion….but the truth is seen from the lies.

    • agoerner says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      It is true that the word “wine” is not found in Quran 16:67. But wouldn’t you agree that wine is meant by the reference to the intoxicant taken from grapevines? Don’t other Muslim interpreters understand this to be wine?

      As for the issue of Christian doctrine and the Trinity, I would encourage you to start first with the Christian understanding of history and the death of Jesus on the cross.

      Sincerely,
      Aaron

    • Abdullah says:

      Allah bless you brother

      I too am converted to Islam

      Christianity doesn’t tell you anything about the bible and trinity .. Its all made up and they call it study of bible ..If this is true, then why cant I do my own studies?
      Lets see
      2 Corinthians 4:4 Satan is God .. It mention The God in Greek which is God almighty

      Psalm 2:7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you..
      So David is the begotten son of God according to God in the bible

      So we should say in the name of the father, two sons, Satan and holy spirit, they are not five Gods but one God .. Lets call it fiverity …

  2. mohammed yunus says:

    There is averse (5:93) in the Qur’an, which conceivably came down after the prohibition verse (5:91) whick closes the debate. God will not take people to task for what they ate or drank as llong as they remain committed to good deeds and taqwa. Thus from the Qur’anic perspective, drink is a fair prosion, has some good but more of evil, causes disorientation so one should not approach prayer as he would’nt know what he is saying, it is a handiwork of satan as drunkenness causes rift in family and a lot of social problems, but God is afterall not going to judge people on whether or not they drank. It is upto the reader to think whether Muhammad cooked it up or it all fits in beautifully. Theer is no compulsion in religion.If he was cooking up the revelations, why couldn’t his learned companions who later became great conquerers and admininstrators of thier era and changed the course of history catch him. Anyway, he is dead 14 centuries ago and if some or a lot of peopl think he was an imposter, it is not amazing as may of the Meccans in Muhammad’s era thought so.

    Well, if you still think he was an imposter, no harm. God will not judge you on what you think of Muhammad but on what you do. Be a good Christian. Dont hate Muslims – though you may hate Islam and Prophet for there is no punishment on harboring evil thoughts about the Prophet or Islam as long as you have faith in God, do good and keep from gross appetites of life and do not hate fellow humans.
    Muhammad Yunnus

  3. Lisa says:

    Read it in Arabic. It is clear not only was the original verse about wine but it refered to being drunk. I don’t think M knows his religion very well.

  4. muhammad yunus says:

    Dear Br. Abdullah,

    As a Muslim I believe in the divinity of the Bible. The incongruities that you have pointed is inevitably the result of translation from Hebrew to Aramic to Latin to English, and the long span of its compilation by different saints and scholars dating from Moses’ era, and its recurring editing over time.

    I welcome you as a convert but warn you that a good christian may stand ahead of a bad Muslim in the divine court.

  5. Dave Thompson says:

    @muhammad yunus

    Translation from Hebrew to Amareic to Latin to English?

    Why not from the original hebrew and greek to english directly?

    The latin version was not the basis for any modern english translation.

    The textual critics (which is a science) say the Bible is the most well preserved collection of ancient texts since we have tens of thousands of 1st and 2nd century manuscripts. Independently, jews and christians have memorized and copied the Torah and Tanakh and New Testament for centuries and NO proof of corruption was ever produced, except grammatical variants which dissappear once you look at the whole.

    Muslims have never offered proof of what the “original non-corrupted” Bible was supposed to say and what it says now. It’s just wishful thinking because if it confirms the Quran they accept it and if it contradicts the Quran they say it’s corrupted.

    @Abdullah: it doesn’t say “Satan is God”. It says Satan is A god (common name: same as ilah) to this age, to the people of the earth. All pagan worship goes to Satan through his many aliases, Hubal, Samiramis, Arachman, Allah…

    As for Psalm 2:7 you may not understand it but it does contradict the Quran where it says Allah is a father to noone.

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