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Timurid painting of courtly men enjoying khamr

Khamr (Arabic: خمر) is an Arabic word for wine or intoxicant.[a] It is variously defined as alcoholic beverages, wine or liquor.[1]

In fiqh, it refers to certain forbidden substances, and its technical definition depends on the madhhab or legal school. Most jurists, including those from the Maliki, Shafiʽi, 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 khat, as khamr, based on a hadith attributed to Muhammad stating, "The Holy Prophet said: 'every intoxicant is khamr, and every intoxicant is forbidden.'"[2][3] Other traditions attributed to Muhammad, however, indicated that khamr may be made from two plants, the grapevine and the date palm.[4] There are some faqīhs, 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]

Historically, many Muslim elites consumed alcohol, encompassing the reign of the Umayyads, the Abbasids, Islamic Spain (al-Andalus), and dynasties that ruled Egypt and the eastern, Persianate half of the Muslim world.[7] Islamic countries have low rates of alcohol consumption, and it is completely banned in several of them while strictly controlled in others (such as consumption being allowed only in private places or by non-Muslims). A minority of Muslims do drink and believe consuming alcohol is not Qur'anically forbidden.[8][9] 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!"[13] Many Muslims believe the verses were revealed over time in this order to gradually nudge Muslim converts away from drunkenness and towards total sobriety, as to ban alcohol abruptly would have been too harsh and impractical.[14]

A minority of Muslims do drink and believe consuming alcohol is not Qur'anically forbidden.[8][15]


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".[16] 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.[17]


All alcohol or only wine debate[edit]

According to western researchers on this subject they believe early caliphs distributed cooked wine (tilā’) to Muslim troops, considering that it was no longer intoxicating. However, fermentation could resume in the amphorae, and Caliph ‘Umar II had to prohibit drinking this beverage.[18]

Like the rationalist school of Islamic theology, the Muʿtazila,[19] early Hanafi scholars upheld the unlawfulness of intoxication, but western researchers argue that they 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 beer, whisky or vodka was permitted according to some minor faction of followers of Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf, although all forms of grape alcohol were banned absolutely.[22] This was in stark contrast to other schools of fiqh, which prohibit consumption of alcohol in all its forms, though Hanafis traced their view on intoxicants back to Umar (d.644) and Abdullah ibn Masud (c.653).[23][need quotation to verify]

Averroes, the Muslim Andalusi[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 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 justification applies to use of alcohol in medicines, hygiene, perfumes etc. according to Hanafi school of thought and so 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]

It is easy to twist these interpretations any way the writer wants so it is always advisable the seek clarity from Hanafi scholars of the time like Mufti Taqi Usmani, Mufti Tariq Masood and many more of the likes. The western scholars argue that 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 Qutaybah'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, the Hanafi school embraced the general prohibition of all alcoholic prohibitions, in line with the other schools.[29]

Alcohol derived from honey, wheat, barley or corn is haram when used as an intoxicant, in an amount that intoxicates. But, if not used in any such manner, and intended to use for medical purpose, hygiene, perfume, etc., then it would be permissible.

Of punishment[edit]

According to scholar Muhammad Al-Munajjid of Saudi Arabia, the consensus of classical 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.[30] A man convicted of consuming alcohol was 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".[16] In Saudi Arabia lashes "can also be part of the sentence" for consuming alcohol, according to the British Embassy.[32] However, according to Murtaza Haider of in Pakistan, "a consensus (ijmāʿ) on how to deal with alcohol has eluded Muslim jurists 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?"[16]

UAE Residents can drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. Liquor licences are still required for Residents in Dubai but are no longer required for Residents in Abu Dhabi and other Emirates (save for Emirate of Sharjah) to purchase alcohol for personal consumption.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ plural, khumūr (Arabic: خمور)


  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. ISBN 978-0-19-530513-5.
  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 (28 September 2020). 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. ^
  8. ^ a b "Alcohol and Islam: An Overview". APA PsycNet. 1999-06-01. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  9. ^ "Nothing in the Quran Says Alcohol "is Haram": Saudi Author".
  10. ^ Quran 2:219
  11. ^ Quran 4:43
  12. ^ Quran 5:90
  13. ^ Ibn Kathir. "The Gradual Prohibition of Khamr (Alcoholic Drink)". Quran Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  14. ^ Cahyaningrum, Lutfi Fitriani (2020). Pentahapan Pengharaman Khamr Sebagai Landasan Dakwah Islamiyah Telaah Terhadap Al-Quran (skripsi thesis) (in Indonesian). IAIN Kudus.
  15. ^ "Nothing in the Quran Says Alcohol "is Haram": Saudi Author".
  16. ^ a b c Haider, Murtaza (29 October 2014). "Alcohol consumption in Pakistan: Don't mix sin with crime". Dawn. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Search Results - Search Results - alcohol lashing Anas Bin Malik (page 1) - - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)".
  18. ^ Tillier, Mathieu; Vanthieghem, Naïm (2022-09-02). "Des amphores rouges et des jarres vertes: Considérations sur la production et la consommation de boissons fermentées aux deux premiers siècles de l'hégire" (PDF). Islamic Law and Society. 30 (1–2): 1–64. doi:10.1163/15685195-bja10025. ISSN 0928-9380. S2CID 252084558.
  19. ^ "Mutazilah", Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  20. ^ Sa'eedi al-Hanafi, Ghulam Rasool. Sharh Sahih Muslim.
  21. ^ "Alcohol: Its kinds, usage and Rulings | General Fiqh | Fiqh".
  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.