A brother was recently reading a book by a famous author in the Western world known as Michael Creighton. This author wrote a book dealing with a Muslim character and apparently has done extensive research on Islam before pursuing the endeavor. However, in the book he speaks of “the draught of mead” and “fermented honey” as being permissible to Muslims. Now he also mentions that these drinks can be intoxicating.
Is the author wrong? He seems to imply that the only injunction in the Qur’an is against wine, yet I recall reading in Surah Al-Maaidah about intoxicants.
Could you clarify?
The Qur’an , while prohibiting intoxicants, has used the word “Khamr“. The word “Khamr“, normally translated as wine, was more of a generic name for intoxicants in the classical Arabic language, like the word “liquor” in the English language.
The Qur’an has thus prohibited all those alcoholic drinks that are used as intoxicants and have the effect of drunkenness. By drunkenness is meant such intoxication that not only effects the reflexes of the human body and mind but also renders the human faculties of reasoning, understanding and thoughtfulness ineffective. It could be derived from my statement that, in my opinion, all those drinks that are not alcoholic or those that are not used as intoxicants or those that do not render the human faculties of reasoning, understanding and thoughtfulness ineffective cannot be termed as prohibited.
The reason for this prohibition, in my opinion, is quite simple. Man has been bestowed an exalted position over that of most of the other creatures of God, only because of his faculties of reasoning, understanding and thoughtfulness. These are the very faculties, which have produced the tremendous speed and amount of development in human life, over the centuries, as compared to that of other creatures inhabiting the earth. These are the very faculties, on the basis of which man has developed systems of education, economics, politics and all other spheres relating to his collective life. Moreover, these are the faculties, on the basis of which, humans shall be held accountable for their good and bad deeds on the Day of Judgment. Thus, Anything that has even the minutest of potentials of making these human faculties ineffective, actually has the potential of reducing a human being to a level far below that which his Creator has liked for him. We all know that “Khamr” has this potential and is, therefore, prohibited in the Islamic Shari`ah.
The cases of mead and fermented honey can be seen in the light of the above explanation.
16th May 1999