A Sobering Thought
The criterion has already been given and it is for us, to hear and obey.
In Islam, so we are popularly told drugs and alcohol arc strictly forbidden Haram! Such things are the work of Satan - abominations!
But let us consider for a moment what this really means.
If any intoxicant (drugs or alcohol - and this would have to include cigarettes and coffee, which contain addictive and stimulating chemicals) is forbidden, then its use for both medical as well as non-medical purposes is forbidden. Yet Muslims all over the world allow medical treatment which utilises drugs, while many medicines contain alcohol (for example cough mixtures), as well as many skin preparations, not forgetting perfumes. And of course, many Muslims smoke cigarettes and drink coffee.
Yet if the Quran says these things arc haram, then we should not use them at all, or allow them to be used on us - even if the situation is life threatening.
But is this what Quran says? Let us look at the evidence:
There are four verses in Quran which
deal with drugs and alcohol, namely:
2:219 They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say `In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit'.
16:67 And from the fruits of date palms and grapes you produce intoxicants, as well as good provisions. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who understand.
5:90 O you who believe, intoxicants and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them that you may succeed.
5:91 The Devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from remembering God, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?
Clearly, in 2-219, we are told that there is both 'gross sin and some benefits' in intoxicants and gambling.
But if there is both, how then do we judge when and how to allow these?
The answer is given in the next two ayats: we arc told how the Devil wishes us to use intoxicants and gambling, and what he hopes to achieve by this, namely to provoke hatred and animosity among people, and to distract us from remembering God and observing Salat.
How do we deal with this?
'Avoid them' 5:90
Yet what about the benefits spoken of in 2:219? How can we separate the good from the bad?
Again, this is recapitulate for us in 16:67, where the example of the grapes and the (late palms is given. Clearly, the benefits of these are that, if used properly, these are beneficial for us; but used improperly, then are not beneficial for us.
So, the message is clear - are you taking drugs and/ or alcohol so that you may derive a benefit from them, for instance, a medical benefit, in which case such things are taken but out of necessity; or are you taking intoxicants simply to indulge yourself? The question is simple enough, and the answer can be easily found if the Quran's criterion is applied.
But what about the sale of alcohol or the sale of lottery tickets? Should Muslims be involved in these? After all, people have to make a living, don't they? And some of the money spent on lottery tickets does go to games and boasting among charity after all
Again, the answer is clearly given in the above suras: If we as Muslims have to avoid intoxicants and gambling for the reasons and stated, then it follows that we should not actively encourage other to forget God and commit gross sins by providing the means or opportunities for them
We cannot kid our selves that we are still believers because we don't drink or gamble etc, while we are active participants in these abominable trades. To do so is hypocrisy and shirk.
It is stated in the Quran that the
duty of the believer is to spread God's truth, and not to hinder
others from finding God. To do so is a sin. And if thc excuses
given by these hypocrites is that 'We have to make a living, to
provide for our families', or 'We are losing out to others by not
selling these things or even, If we do not participate then we will be ridiculed' then God has something to say to them:
'Know that this worldly life is no more than play and games and boasting among you and hoarding of money and children' 57:20
'We have established you on earth, and we have provided for you the means of support therein. Rarely are you appreciative'. 7:10
'The hypocrites will be committed to the lowest pit of hell, and find no-one to help them'. 4:145
'Therefore, you shall devote your worship absolutely to God alone, even if the disbelievers dislike it' 40:14
And it may be as well to remind
ourselves also of the lesson, which was taught to Thamoud:
'We provided them with guidance, but they preferred blindness over guidance. Consequently the disastrous and shameful retribution annihilated them, because of what they earned'. 41:17
The criterion has already been given and it is for us, as Muslims, to hear and obey.
In the end we will testify against ourselves as to what we have done, and ultimately we will be judged by God. A sobering thought.