Episode 1- Drug addiction and alcoholism
This chapter is intended to address the Islamic position on primary issues undermining the confidence and moral values of today’s society. The world is daily confronted with personal or media accounts of drug abuse, violence, poverty and so on. Muslims, and especially new Muslims, must understand the Islamic teachings and attitudes about these subjects in order to better preserve their faith and morality.
The topics discussed in this chapter include substance and drug abuse, economic problems, racial issues, homosexuality, abuse of children and women, and family and social pressures that you may encounter if you are a new convert.
SUBSTANCE AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
The abuse of drugs and alcohol is one of the most phenomenal problems facing the human society. In spite of the governments spending huge amounts on the “drug war,” young people are losing their lives and dreams to drugs. Such a thing as the “drug culture” has emerged, and drugs have become the major cause of gang warfare. Alcohol, long having been an integral part of youth social life, has wrecked homes and caused countless deaths in car accidents. Governments efforts to curb teenage drinking and drunk driving have had little success. For the addict involved with drugs and alcohol, there seems to be no end in sight.
The Islamic injunction concerning intoxicants, that is the complete forbidding of drugs and alcohol, seems idealistic for the modern society. Yet it is the only solution. Allah commands Muslims in the Holy Qur’an:
“O ye who believe! wine and the game of chance… are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So shun each one of them that you may prosper. Satan seeks only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of wine and games of chance, and to keep you back from the remembrance of Allah and from Prayer…” (5:91-92)
The Arabic word “al-khamr” is used in this verse which means anything that intoxicates or alters the mind. Thus, all forms of intoxicants are forbidden. The verse clearly explains the problems created by the use of intoxicants; first, they lead to hatred and enmity amongst people, causing murder, violence, immoral behavior etc.; and secondly they lead people away from Allah and His religion. Allah wants the believers to keep their minds pure and clean, so that they worship Him fully. A Muslim may not offer prayers (salaat) when he is not in full possession of his senses, even if that is caused by excessive emotion or a state of sleep. Certainly, a mind that is intoxicated is not able to focus on Allah.
Finally, it is important to note that drugs and alcohol are used as a means of escape from overwhelming difficulties and responsibilities. The attitude of one who has truly embraced the teachings of Islam cannot be compatible with this state of despair. A true Muslim places his reliance on Allah for the relief of hardship. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) proclaimed Allah’s commandment concerning intoxicants, his followers broke their pots and jugs of wine until the streets flowed with it. This is the example for the new convert to Islam. Some hadith of the Holy Prophet about intoxicants are:
- If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, (even) a small amount of it is forbidden.
- An undutiful son, a gambler, one who casts up what he is given, and one who is addicted to wine will not enter paradise.
- Tariq bin Suwaid asked the Holy Prophet about wine and he forbade him. When he told him that he used it only as medicine, the Holy Prophet replied, “It is not a medicine, but is a disease.”
Islam understands that it may not be easy for a person to break away from addiction, so it does not exclude or discourage the use of outside resources, such as counseling or rehabilitation. But the most potent tool is prayer, abstinence and begging Allah’s mercy.