Wine Drinking

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Wine drinking is to drink any intoxicating liquid. In the Qur'an and hadiths, wine drinking is considered as a Major Sin and is strongly reproached. In the Islamic jurisprudence, wine drinking counts as a forbidden action, as well as a crime. Thus, a wine drinker is punished with eighty whips on his back. Muslim jurists have stated certain rulings for wine drinking and issues related to it. According to Qur'anic exegetes, the forbiddance of wine drinking was gradually stated in the Qur'an. Different physical, psychological, material, and spiritual reasons have been mentioned for the forbiddance of wine drinking in hadiths.

The Notion

Wine drinking is to drink an intoxicating liquid.[1] In the Qur'an[2] and hadiths, the action is reproached as a Major Sin.[3] In the Islamic jurisprudence, wine drinking counts as a crime and a forbidden action. If one commits the action, then according to the Islamic criminal law, they will be punished with whips.[4]

Stages of the Forbiddance of Wine Drinking

According to some Qur'anic exegeses, the Qur'an has stated the forbiddance of some deeds with previous preparations. One case in point is that of wine drinking. For, prior to the emergence of Islam, wine drinking was very common and had become a public habit. According to some historians, Arabs in the Age of Ignorance were fond of three things: poetry, wine, and war. Even after the forbiddance of wine drinking, its prohibition was still problematic for some Muslims. They said that no ruling was harsher for them than the forbiddance of wine drinking. Thus, the Qur'an did not fully forbid wine drinking at the outset. Instead, it went through stages in order to state its forbiddance.[5] The stages include the following:

Reference to Wine Drinking as a Wrong Action

According to Qur'anic exegetes, Islam could not ban wine drinking without taking certain psychological and social principles into account. Thus, it gradually banned it and prepared people for its full prohibition. According to these exegetes, in some Meccan Suras, God first pointed out that wine drinking was a wrong action. For example, in the Qur'an 16:67,[6] wine is referred to as an unpleasant drink in contrast to pure and pleasant foods and drinks.[7]

Emphasis on Its Benefits being Outweighed by its Harms

According to some historical sources, wine constituted part of people's economic incomes in the Age of Ignorance. Thus, when Muslims migrated to Medina and the first Islamic government was established, the second decree concerning the prohibition of wine drinking was revealed with a stronger tone, so that people would be prepared for the final ban. The Qur'an 2:219[8] points out that wine does have benefits, but these are outweighed by its harms.[9]

Encouraging People to Abandon Wine Drinking

According to some exegetes, after the revelation of the Qur'an 2:219, the Qur'an 4:43 points to certain rulings of wine drinking, encouraging Muslims to abstain from drinking wine, particularly when they perform their prayers.[10] Some exegetes interpret this verse as follows: the verse does not imply that wine drinking is permissible when one is not saying his or her prayers. The verse only talks about intoxication during prayers, and is indeed silent over other states, until the final ruling about wine drinking is explicitly stated later.[11]

Full Forbiddance of Wine Drinking

According to Allama Tabataba'i's account in his al-Mizan, the last verse revealed about the prohibition of wine drinking was the Qur'an 5:90.[12] It is said that, in this verse, God fully and explicitly forbade wine drinking. According to exegetes, the fact that, in this verse, wine is juxtaposed to idols and wine drinking is said to be a "defilement from the work of Satan" implies the strong prohibition of wine drinking.[13] It has also been appealed to hadiths according to which a wine drinker is like an idol worshipper.[14]

Philosophy of the Forbiddance

There are a number of hadiths about the underlying reasons for the forbiddance of wine drinking. For example, the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying that he curses ten groups of people associated with wine and wine drinking.[15] In some hadiths, the reasons for its forbiddance are said to be physical, material, spiritual, and social harms.[16]

One reason for its forbiddance is to prevent its harms. When Imam al-Sadiq (a) was asked why God forbids wine drinking, he replied: "to prevent its harms." Some instances of its harms are mentioned in hadiths, for example:

  • It extinguishes the divine light within one's heart and soul,
  • The wine drinker will have a trembling body,
  • The wine drinker is likely to shed bloods and commit adultery,[17]
  • It deprives the drinker of wisdom and rationality,[18]


According to the Islamic jurisprudence, it is forbidden to drink any sort of alcoholic drinks, little or much, and it will be punished, even if the person drinks so little that does not lead to intoxication. The forbiddance of wine drinking is so strong that the majority of jurists believe that it is even impermissible to cure a disease with wine drinking, even if it is prescribed as the only cure for the disease. Other rulings of wine drinking are as follows:

  • The hadd or punishment for drinking any sort of alcoholic drink is eighty whips, even if the person drinks a little,
  • The punishment will be enforced when the drinker becomes sober,
  • It is forbidden to eat food on a table on which wine is served and drunk,
  • If a person drinks intoxicating liquids, then they will count as vice and their testimony will not be accepted in courts.[20]


  1. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 634.
  2. Qur'an 5:90.
  3. Ṣadūq, Thawāb al-aʿmāl, p. 479.
  4. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 4, p. 493.
  5. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 70.
  6. And out of the fruits of date-palms and grapes you derive intoxicants as well as wholesome sustenance. Surely there is a sign for those who use reason.
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 70.
  8. They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say, ‘There is a great sin in both of them, and some profits for the people, but their sinfulness outweighs their profit.
  9. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 70.
  10. O you who have faith! Do not approach prayer when you are intoxicated
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 396.
  12. O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 6, p. 120.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 72.
  14. ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 1, p. 366.
  15. Ṣadūq, Thawāb al-aʿmāl, p. 479.
  16. Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ, vol. 2, p. 476, Hadith 2.
  17. Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ, vol. 2, p. 476, Hadith 2.
  18. Nahj al-balāgha, p. 512.
  19. Qur'an 5:91.
  20. Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 3, p. 493.


  • ʿAyyāshī, Muḥammad b. Masʿūd al-. Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī. Edited by Rasūlī Maḥallātī. Tehran: al-Maktaba al-ʿIlmiyya al-Islāmiyya, 1380 Sh.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1374 Sh.
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  • Sayyid Raḍī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Nahj al-balāgha. Edited by Ṣubḥī Ṣaliḥ. Qom: Hijrat, 1414 AH.
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  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī, 1417 AH.