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A khamr.

Khamr (Arabic: خمر‎) is an Arabic word for intoxication; (the plural form, Khumūr (Arabic: خمور‎), is defined as alcoholic beverages, liquor).[1] In Islamic jurisprudence, it refers to certain forbidden substances, and its technical definition depends on the legal school. Most jurists, including those from the Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ahl-i Hadith legal schools have traditionally viewed it as general term for any intoxicating beverage made from grapes, dates, and similar substances.[2] Hanafi jurists restricted the term to a narrower range of beverages.[2] Over time, some jurists classified other intoxicants, such as opium and qat, as khamr, based on a hadith stating:

The Holy Prophet said: every intoxicant is khamr, and every khamr is forbidden.[2][3]

Traditions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad indicated that khamr may be made from two plants, the grape-vine and the date palm.[4]

There are some Muslim jurists (particularly of the Hanafi school) who take the concept of khamr literally and forbid only grape-based (or date-based) alcoholic beverages, allowing those made with other fruits, grains, or honey. This is, however, a minority opinion.[5][6]

Islamic countries have low rates of alcohol consumption. However, a minority of Muslims do drink despite religious prohibitions.[7] Muslim-majority countries produce a variety of regional distilled beverages such as arrack and rakı. There is a long tradition of viticulture in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt (where it is legal) and in Iran (where it is banned).

Scriptural basis[edit]

Quranic verses that at least discourage alcohol include

They ask you about wine (khamr) and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit."

"O you who acknowledge, Do not go near prayer, (Salat) while you are stupified (under influence), until you know what you are saying"

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants (khamr), gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.

According to a hadith where Imam Ahmad recorded what Abu Maysarah said, the verses came after requests by `Umar to Allah, to "Give us a clear ruling regarding Al-Khamr!".[11] Many Muslim believe the verses were revealed over time in this order to gradually nudge Muslim converts away from drunkenness and towards total sobriety.[citation needed] Since Islam brought "a society steeped in immorality" to one observing "the highest standards of morality",[12] to ban alcohol abruptly would have been too harsh and impractical.[13]

Another hadith (coming from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar) report that Muhammad said:

“Whoever drinks wine in this world and does not repent from that, he will be deprived of it in the Hereafter.” [14]


The Quran does not prescribe a penalty for consuming alcohol. Among hadith, the only reference for punishment comes from one by Anas ibn Malik, (according to Murtaza Haider of in Pakistan) who is reported to have stated that Muhammad prescribed 40 lashes "administered with two palm branches ... for someone accused of consuming alcohol".[15] Saudi Arabian scholar Saalih al-Munajjid also states that a hadith report narrated by Sahih Muslim (3281) from Anas reports that Muhammad flogged someone who had drunk wine with palm branches stripped of their leaves and with shoes.[16][17]


Of prohibition[edit]

As far as the prohibition of alcohol in the Qur’an is concerned alcohol was prohibited after an incident which is recorded in the Sunni hadith literature in a hadith found in Jamiʽ at-Tirmidhi where some companions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, were guests at a meal and drank wine and verses of the Qur’an were revealed. The narrative is found in Chapters of Tafsir Vol.5 Book 44 Hadith No. 3026.

"Narrated Abu 'Abdur-Rahman As-Sulami: that 'Ali bin Abi Talib said: "'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf prepared some food for which he invited us, and he gave us some wine to drink. The wine began to affect us when it was time for Salat. So they encouraged me (to lead) and I recited: 'Say: O you disbelievers! I do not worship what you worship, and we worship what we worship' - so Allah, Most High, revealed: O you who believe! Do not approach Salat when you are in a drunken state until you know what you are saying (4:43)."[18]

All alcohol or only wine?[edit]

Like the rationalist school of Islamic theology, Mu'tazila,[19] early Hanafi scholars upheld the unlawfulness of intoxication, but restricted its definition to fermented juice of grapes[20] or grapes and dates.[21] As a result, alcohol derived by means of honey, barley, wheat and millet such as whisky, beer and vodka was permitted according to Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf, although all forms of grape alcohol were banned absolutely.[22] This was in stark contrast to other schools of Islamic jurisprudence which prohibit consumption of alcohol in all its forms. Though Hanafis traced their liberal view on intoxicants back to Umar ibn al-Khattab (d.644) and Ibn Mas'ud (c.653),[23][need quotation to verify]

Averroes, the Muslim Andalusian [24] polymath and jurist, explained it thus in his encyclopedia of comparative Islamic jurisprudence,

In their argument by way of reasoning they said that the Koran has explicitly laid down that the Illa (underlying cause) of prohibition of khamr (wine) is that it prevents the remembrance of God and breeds enmity and hatred…[this is] found only in a certain quantity of the intoxicating liquor not in what is less than that; it follows therefore that only this quantity be prohibited..[25]

This distinction between the legal status of wine and non-grape alcoholic beverages was reflected in early Hanafi legal doctrine. Hanafi jurists delineated drinking-related offences into two categories:

  1. Drinking grape-derived wine (punishment applicable on drinking “even a drop”).[26]
  2. Intoxication from non-grape intoxicants (certainly prohibited from a religious-moral perspective, but may or may not qualify for criminal punishment).[27][need quotation to verify]

As the second category of punishment was specific to the Hanafis (other schools punish drinking regardless of intoxication), they had to come with a legal definition of drunkenness. These definitions ranged from Ibn Qutayba’s ,

[a drunk is he] whose intellect has left him so he does not understand a little or much (anything at all)” to Ibn Nujaym’s ,“[a drunk is he who] does not know (the difference) between a man and a woman or the earth from the sky”.

Hanafi understanding of Shariah not only permitted adherents to indulge in alcoholic beverages but they could do so up to a near point of total "annihilation".[28]

However, from the 12th century CE the Hanafi school embraced the general prohibition of all alcoholic prohibitions, in line with the other schools. [29]

Of punishment[edit]

According to scholar Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid of Saudi Arabia, the consensus of classical Islamic scholars of fiqh (fuqaha’) for the punishment for consumption of alcohol is flogging, but scholars differ as to the number of lashes to be administered to the drinker, "the majority of scholars are of the view that it is eighty lashes for a free man" and forty for slaves and women.[16][Note 1] However, according to Murtaza Haider of in Pakistan, "a consensus (ijma) on how to deal with alcohol has eluded Muslim jurist for more than a millennium". The "Maliki, Hanbali, and Hanafi schools" of Islamic jurisprudence consider 80 lashes to be lawful punishment, the Shafi’i school calls for 40 lashes. "The Hadith does not cover the matter in sufficient detail. ... Is it 40 or 80 lashes? Can one substitute palm branches with a cane or leather whips? What constitutes as proof for consumption?"[15]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Reports of 80 or 70-80 lashes being administered for punishment of drinking in Muslim countries have occurred in Iran and Pakistan. Eight men convicted of drinking alcohol and causing public disturbance were flogged 70 to 80 lashes publicly in Tehran in July 2001;[30] a man was convicted of consuming alcohol given 80 lashes in a public square in the Iranian city of Kashmar on 10 July 2018.[31]
    In Pakistan the penal code, under "the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order of 1979, awards 80 lashes to those convicted of consuming alcohol".[15]
    In Saudi Arabia lashes "can also be part of the sentence" for consuming alcohol, according to the British Embassy.[32]


  1. ^ Hans Wehr, J. Milton Cowan (1979). A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (4th ed.). Spoken Language Services.
  2. ^ a b c Juan Eduardo Campo (2009). "Dietary Rules". In John L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Fahd Salem Bahammam. Food and Dress in Islam: An explanation of matters relating to food and drink and dress in Islam. Modern Guide. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-909322-99-8.
  4. ^ John Alden Williams (22 July 2010). The Word of Islam. University of Texas Press. pp. PT 116. ISBN 978-0-292-78667-7.
  5. ^ John Alden Williams. Islam. Library of Alexandria. pp. PT 117. ISBN 978-1-4655-8103-7.
  6. ^ Malise Ruthven (23 October 1997). Islam: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, UK. pp. PT 68. ISBN 978-0-19-154011-0.
  7. ^ "Alcohol and Islam: An Overview". APA PsycNet. 1999-06-01. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  8. ^ Quran 2:219
  9. ^ Quran 4:43
  10. ^ Quran 5:90
  11. ^ Ibn Kathir. "The Gradual Prohibition of Khamr (Alcoholic Drink)". Quran Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  12. ^ Azeem, Hafiz Muhammad (17 January 2018). "Theory of Naskh (Abrogation) in Islamic Law". Hafiz Muhammad Azeem, Advocate. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  13. ^ Abu Amina Elias (10 December 2014). "NOBLE QURAN القرآن الكريم Abrogation and specification in the Quran". Faith in Allah. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  14. ^ found in Saheeh al-Bukhaari (2295) and Saheeh Muslim (86) according to Saalih al-Munajjid, Muhammad. "20037: What is the punishment for one who drinks alcohol, and are his prayer and fasting valid?". Islam Question and Answer. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  15. ^ a b c Haider, Murtaza (29 October 2014). "Alcohol consumption in Pakistan: Don't mix sin with crime". Dawn. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b Saalih al-Munajjid, Muhammad. "20037: What is the punishment for one who drinks alcohol, and are his prayer and fasting valid?". Islam Question and Answer. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  17. ^ search results,
  18. ^ "Jami` at-Tirmidhi » Chapters on Tafsir".
  19. ^ "Mutazilah", Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  20. ^ Sa'eedi al-Hanafi, Ghulam Rasool. Sharh Sahih Muslim.
  21. ^ "Alcohol: Its kinds, usage and Rulings".
  22. ^ Ruthven, Malisse (1997). slam: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 55. The following is part of a discussion on prohibited liquors from the Hidayah of Burhanuddin al-Marghinani (d. 1197), a Hanafi faqih of Farghana in Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan). Beer, Whisky, and Vodka, according to this liberal Hanafi view, were permitted, although all forms of grape alcohol were banned absolutely: "..Liquor produced by means of honey, wheat, barley or millet is lawful, according to Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf (his most distinguished disciple)..
  23. ^ Saeedi, Ghulam Rasool. Sharh Sahih Muslim. p. 200.
  24. ^ Tamer, Georges (2011-02-01). "Averroism". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Averroism is a philosophical movement named after the sixth/twelfth-century Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes, d. 595/1198), which began in the thirteenth century among masters of arts at the University of Paris and continued through the seventeenth century.
  25. ^ Qurtubi, Ibn Rushd. The Distinguished Jurists Primer. p. 573.
  26. ^ Nyazee, Imran Ahsan Khan. Islamic Jurisprudence: Uṣūl Al-Fiqh. p. 311.
  27. ^ Fatawa-i Hindiyya. Maktaba Rahmaniyya. p. 344.
  28. ^ Morrow, John Andrew. Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism. p. 83.
  29. ^ Haider, Najam (2013). "Contesting Intoxication: Early Juristic Debates on the Lawfulness of Alcoholic Beverages". Islamic Law and Society. 20 (1): 48-89. doi:10.1163/15685195-0002A0002.
  30. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2001 March 4, 2002". United States Department of State. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Iranian man flogged 80 times for drinking alcohol as a child". BBC. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Q: Alcohol consumption in Saudi Arabia". 25 June 2002. Retrieved 24 July 2018.