I understand that the common concept is that alcohol is is acceptable in islam, however I am struggling to see how we consider it 'haram' considering the phrases used in the quran.

... Indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are from the work of Satan, so avoid it to be successful. — Quran 5:90

When we compare this to other parts of the quran such as the forbidding of eating pork we can see a difference in language - stronger more definitive language like 'forbidden' is used for example compared to less definitive language like 'avoid'.

Prohibited/Forbidden to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah - Quran 5:3

I realise that these are just two passages but I think most passages from the quran that I have found reflect this point.

In summary:

  • (1) in the quran why are there no references to alcohol being forbidden or haram and
  • (2) why should we consider it haram or not consider it haram
  • (3) Should we consider that drinking or taking other intoxicants is not recommended and should be avoided but is not forbidden like pork or non-halal meat.

Please try to explain this in the context of quran rather than hadith (because different denominations of islam consider different hadith and the quran is the main text of islam).

  • 1
    This type of thing happens all the time when reading a translation of the Quran. If you know Quranic arabic, you're better off studying that. If not, you should always read the quran with a scholar, and make use of hadith and fatwa. But in short, the verse 5:90 may not sound very strong in English, but in reality, is it forbidding alcohol by saying that if you want paradise, don't drink alcohol. If you drink alcohol, no paradise for you. But again, I would recommend not trying to study a translation of the quran if you want to understand it properly. Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 15:43
  • I know this is true of course, that's why I'm posting here!
    – aop1
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 16:44

4 Answers 4



Firstly, things can be of three states regarding their permissibility: halal, haram, and in between (Arabic). Now, when almighty Allah tells us to avoid something to be successful, then that means approaching it will not make us successful, and because Allah wants us to be successful, then He doesn't want us to do it.

Now, in what category do you think drinking alcohol falls? Halal? Definitely not, because how can doing something halal lead us to be unsuccessful?

In between? If it is from the work of Satan, then obviously it is something not good, so it doesn't fit in this category either (2:268).

The only place in which drinking alcohol falls is being haram, because we are ordered to avoid it, and it is from the work of Satan which brings only poverty and immorality (2:268).

Lastly, if your doctor said "Avoid eating eggs because of your illness", then that means the doctor doesn't want you to eat eggs. There are many ways to tell that something is prohibited or forbidden, and the two words "prohibited" and "forbidden" are not the only methods.

  • Thank you for the detailed response and relatively objective answer (though I think the points were great up until the metaphor about doctors which doesn't quite work - we don't always listen to our doctors but that doesn't mean we will die/get ill for definite).
    – aop1
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 16:47
  • I think what I am then curious of is why is does the quran not say it is strictly forbidden like with pork and many other things? Furthermore in the relative weight of things we see some people that drink but do not eat halal food, and some people that eat halal food but do not drink - should we consider these equally bad?
    – aop1
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 16:50
  • 1
    - Well, the doctor analogy was to describe how the doctor doesn't want you to do it. When Allah doesn't want you to do something and you do it, then you simply disobey him. - Islam is not defined by the behaviors of some Muslims, because Muslims commits sins. - Lastly, no one can measure and compare people. Really, no one knows except Allah.
    – Ghasan
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 17:52
  • Ok thank you, this was very interesting. I'm still wondering why this hasn't been written as forbidden, but I think you're point stands very valid. I am also wondering why there is a change in the stance on alcohol chronologically through the quran, but I will ask this as a separate question. Thank you for your clear and concise reply!
    – aop1
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 23:25

There's no doubt that alcohol is haram (forbidden).


The strongest wording of the prohibition is Qur'an 5:90-91:

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?

Intoxicants are also described in Qur'an 4:43 and Qur'an 2:219.


There's many sahih ahadith talking about how alcohol (or wine, or intoxicants) are forbidden. Several can be found in the chapter Book of Drinks in Sahih al-Bukhari. Two examples are:

Whoever drinks alcoholic drinks in the world and does not repent (before dying), will be deprived of it in the Hereafter. -- Sahih al-Bukhari 5575

... a person, at the time of drinking an alcoholic drink is not a believer ... -- Sahih al-Bukhari 5578

Another example is:

Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden. -- Sahih Muslim 2003


IslamWeb state the prohibition on alcohol it in no uncertain terms:

All Muslims are agreed that anything that causes drunkenness is forbidden. There is clear evidence for this rule from the Qur'an & the Sunnah. Again, this rule is known by all Muslims (scholars or normal people). So, any Muslim who denies this rule is denying a basic rule in the Shari'a.

Likewise at AskMufti, Islam Q&A. In fact, a number of Islamic countries ban alcohol; see List of countries with alcohol prohibition.

  • Basically the issue the ones have who think it isn't haram is based on the verse 5:90 on the wording: "so avoid..." (fa'jtaniboo...), they argue that "avoid" doesn't mean it is haram. But if we look at the word "ajtaniboo" (avoid) in the quran we will find that nobody will argue that it isn't haram in all other contexts, for instance: "And those who avoid the major sins" (42:37), also "avoid the idols" (22:30)... might be good to add
    – Kilise
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 13:26

Upon reading all of the above questions and explanations, I have decided to add some more to these, considering all the explanations valid.

Topic of Interest:

  1. "why alcohol is not directly considered/mentioned as 'HARAM' or 'FORBIDDEN' instead of asked to 'AVOID' it?"

  2. Does this lower intensive word 'AVOID' instead of 'FORBIDDEN/HARAM' differs Alcohol from Pork and other similar staff?


In Surat Al-Ma'idah (5:90) Alcohol is included in the broader term 'Intoxication', which is referred as the work of Satan. There Allah also tells that, to get success- we should avoid Satan and its work- including 'intoxication'. [Ref: http://www.quran-islam.org/articles/alcohol_prohibition_(P1163).html]. As here Allah mentions intoxication is a work of Satan, self-intoxication (through Alcohol and staffs like that) is the same work as what Satan does.

Now, use of Alcohol is of two types that we have explored; one is for the benefit of the human health (such as- for medical surgeries, in medicines or even warming own self to extreme cold situations) containing in a certain and limited amount as well as only in the state of necessity prescribed or used by professionals. On the other hand, alcohol is used as recreational/habitual purpose (such as- in the parties, for stress relief, or to get rid of frustration/sorrow) which are most of the time not bound by any limit and often been provoked by others/situations.

1) Given these two major types of usage of Alcohol, the word 'Intoxication' mostly refers to the latter one which most of the time leads us to sinful acts (although sometime we might not understand the intent of the sin). To me, Allah has given us many alternatives instead of using Alcohol for the purpose of self-intoxication. I think that amplifies the word 'AVOID' the "alcohol

But, Allah did not forbid something which is beneficial for human being. As alcohol has many beneficial usage, mentioning the word 'HARAM/FORBIDDEN' would lead to miss the benefits of alcohol. Thus, use of word 'AVOID' is totally justified by the context of usage of alcohol by human being- "we must avoid using it when it is similar to the work of Satan and not forbidden/haram as we should use it for our benefits only".

2) Pork is proven to be a germ containing animal and harmful (no benefits at all) to human health as well as have thousands of alternatives, it is mentioned as HARAM/FORBIDDEN [Ref: http://islamicvoice.com/february.99/zakir.htm].

If we consider the fact of available alternatives/supplements only, there are similarities between consuming pork and alcohol, which is- both have harmful effect on human. So, between alcohol and pork (and other similar staff like blood etc) we can infer that, "in which cases we harm ourselves and can find alternatives- those are to be avoided and in which cases it is not beneficial to human kind at all- those are to be forbidden/haram". So Allah mentioning 'Avoid Alcohol' for intoxication purpose is similar to referring as haram/forbidden when it is harmful and we have alternatives like the case of eating pork/swine.


Yes it is totally haram.

Think of if you drink a lot then you wake up not remembering what bad have you done, so this totally takes your senses away, and if your brain or mind is away then your faith will go away too, as simple as that no faith with lost senses.

So it is haram and extremely forbidden.

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