Prohibition of Wine in Islam
Muslims are often asked about the apparent contradiction between Islam’s prohibition of alcohol and its promise of rivers of wine in heaven. If Allah prohibited intoxicants, why would he give Muslims rivers of wine in heaven? These questions have remained a subject of confusion for many Muslims and non-Muslims.
The answer lies in the fact that, in Islam, wine (and all other intoxicants) is considered to be Haram or forbidden. This is because intoxication leads to a loss of self-control and a weakening of faith. In contrast, the rivers of wine in heaven are not intoxicating; they are a metaphor for the joy and bliss that believers will experience in the hereafter. So, while Islam prohibits wine in this world, it promises a far greater reward for those who follow its teachings.
Islam is a religion represented by the Quran, a book considered truthful and absolute by its followers. Wine itself is not prohibited in the Quran or Hadith. The Quran does not say that no alcohol will be served in heaven, just that there will be no drunkenness (i.e., khamr in Arabic). Logically, it implies that various drinks can be served without any intoxicating effects.
The Quran explicitly forbids the consumption of alcohol (khamr). Consequently, one cannot find a single Islamic country where alcoholic beverages are legal.
An Introduction to Wine
Wine in Islam follows, with particular attention paid to its uses as an intoxicant and its controversial role in Islam.
Quran’s View on the Beverage
The Quran instructs Muslims to avoid alcohol, which undermines good character, self-control, and integrity. Allah forbids Muslims from drinking wine and other intoxicants because alcohol affects health, mental state and behaviour. Therefore, Islam believes drinking alcohol is a sin and forbids it completely.
The Quran indicates that Muslims cannot consume alcohol or partake in drunkenness. However, this does not indicate that Muslims must abstain from wine completely. Some believe that Muslims may consume alcohol for medicinal purposes and social occasions under the guidance of a Quran-approved physician.
Essential Points about Wine in Islam
According to a famous saying (i.e., Hadith in Arabic) of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah has cursed the winemaker, the drinker of the wine, or the one who purchases or sells it. Moreover, wine is something that is Haram (prohibited or not halal) in Islam. This implies that consuming, selling, and even making it is strictly forbidden in Islamic jurisprudence. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that “If one gets drunk, flog him. If he does it again, flog him. If he repeats it a third time, flog him.
Muslims are forbidden from consuming alcoholic beverages in any quantity. The Qur’an states that the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited. A Quranic chapter (Surah Al-Ma’ida, 5:90) says, “O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, [dedication of] stones, and (divination by) arrows are an abomination—of Satan’s handiwork; eschew such abominations that you may prosper.”
Likewise, in Surah Al-An’am 6:118, it reads, “So eat of that over which The Name of Allah has been mentioned, in case you are believers in His signs.” Based on these strict and direct Quranic proclamations, Muslims try to avoid drinking wine and other alcoholic drinks.
Disagreements among Muslim Scholarship
There are some disagreements among Muslim scholars about whether or not it is permissible to drink wine. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that if one gets drunk, flog him; if he does it again, flog him; and if he repeats it a third time, flog him. This strict order indicates that the Prophet did not consider getting drunk under any circumstances acceptable. However, there is another hadith in which the Prophet stated: “Allah has forbidden wine, gambling, idols, and swine.”
In another hadith, he said, “They ask you about wine and gambling. Say: ‘In them, there is great sin and some profit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their profit.” (2:219). A little is allowed according to Islamic law (i.e., Shari’ah in Arabic), even though Islam has prohibited the consumption of alcohol. On another occasion, the Prophet stated that a person who drinks wine and goes to the mosque to pray is not worthy of his prayer if he does not take a bath.
“In wine, there is truth” is a famous saying that holds little weight in the Muslim community. The Quran describes the wine as “a work of Satan,” and multiple traditions record the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declaring that anyone who drinks alcohol is an “evil person” who has strayed from righteousness.
What exactly is wine?
Dictionary.com defines wine as an alcoholic beverage fermented from the natural sugar of fruits, grains, or grapes containing ethyl alcohol. It is primarily used as a beverage. Some scholars believe that the Qur’an and hadith forbid any intoxicant (sayings and doings attributed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In contrast, others draw the line at fermented products produced by direct contact with grape juice or dates.
Still, others may consider only distilled liquors as forbidden because they are stronger than other forms of alcohol. Prohibition aside, many Muslims believe it would be prudent to avoid all forms of wine to keep themselves healthy and maintain their social status as practicing Muslims. Nonetheless, moderation is the key to food and drink, so enjoy yourself responsibly!
Harmful Effects of Wine on Health
The harmful effects of wine on health are well known. The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, which indicates the probability of cancer. According to WHO, Alcohol consumption causes approximately 2 million deaths worldwide annually. As the amount and frequency of drinking increases, the likelihood of developing cancer also grows.
Furthermore, those who drink heavily over many years are particularly at risk, as they are more susceptible to head and neck cancers (mouth and throat). Similarly, they may face diseases related to the liver, colon, rectum, female breast, oesophagus (swallowing tube), pancreas (endocrine gland), larynx (voice box), and ovary (sex organ).
Wine deteriorates the minds and bodies of excessive drinkers. Moreover, it also makes men unfit for work or study and destroys their families through divorce and fighting among family members. Many Muslim scholars believe that Allah created wine to test people’s faith because it is difficult to let go of the drinking habit once it is ingrained in a person’s mentality.
Why is wine forbidden in Islam?
Did you know? Wine is considered a forbidden drink in Islam because Wine is dangerous for a person’s health and causes many social problems.
These are the primary reasons wine is prohibited in Islam: Wine causes intoxication, which leads to sinfulness and evil deeds, and destroys the mental capabilities, causing forgetfulness of Allah and leading to disobedience of Him and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
Furthermore, it causes many problems, such as addiction, aggression, violence, depression, etc. Therefore, Muslims are not only advised to avoid wine themselves but also instruct their families to avoid it.
See more resources here.
This day in Wine History
August 6, 1907: On this day, Jules Chauvet was born. He was a chemist, winemaker, and gifted taster. He is considered the father of the natural wine movement.
1983-Present: The reign of one of the most prominent female figures in the history of Wine, Heidi Peterson Barrett. Her accomplishments speak for themselves. She began her career as the only female winemaker in a major California winery almost 50 years ago. Currently, she runs a multi-million dollar female-owned winery with dozens of wines, including her award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines.
July 15 – August 6, 1961: Excavations at Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of Western Iran occurred during this period, revealing grape seeds, raisins, and wine residues dating from about 5000–3500 BC. The earliest chemically attested grape wine was discovered at Godin Tepe in the same region, where a Chalcolithic period settlement (c. 3000 BC) was found earlier. It was built beside viticulture facilities, including storage jars for grapes, presses for grape juice, and wine jars.
See More Resources here
Want to read more? Try these books!
 Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi, Why Islam Forbids Intoxicants and Gambling, Kazi Publications, Lahore
 Fuller RC. Religion and wine: A cultural history of wine drinking in the United States. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press; 1996
 Sa’id ‘Abdullah Sayf al-Hatimy, Islam and the Evil of Intoxicants, Rabitat Journal, Vol. 6, No. 3 of Safar 1399H.
 Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi, Why Islam Forbids Intoxicants and Gambling, Kazi Publications, Lahore.
 Jacquelyn M. Guilford, John M. Pezzuto
Am J Enol Vitic. December 2011 62: 471-486; published ahead of print July 26, 2011 ; DOI: 10.5344/ajev.2011.11013