Islam’s holistic approach to health and well-being means that anything that is harmful or mostly harmful, is forbidden. Therefore, Islam takes an uncompromising stand towards alcohol and forbids its consumption in either small or large quantities. Alcohol is undoubtedly harmful and adversely affects the mind and the body. It clouds the mind, causes disease, wastes money, and destroys individuals, families, and communities.
“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, idolatry, and divining arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So avoid that so that you may be successful.” (Quran 5: 90)
When Islam prohibited alcohol and drugs, it prohibited them whether they are taken in much or little amounts. If a person is allowed to take the little, the much will be taken later. This prohibition is based on the Shari`ah objective of maintaining and keeping safe one’s mind. `Abdullah ibn `Umar reported that:
I heard `Umar (ibn Al-Khattab) while he was on the pulpit of the Prophet saying, “Now then O people! The revelation about the prohibition of alcoholic drinks was revealed, and alcoholic drinks are extracted from five things: grapes, dates, honey, wheat, and barley. And the alcoholic drink is that which confuses and stupefies the mind.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet is reported to have said:
“Of that which intoxicates in a large amount, a small amount is haram.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)
Responsible Drinking? Not Very
“Responsible drinking” has become a 21st-century mantra for how most people view alcohol consumption. But when it comes to cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe.That is the conclusion of the 2014 World Cancer Report (WCR), issued by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Isn’t Modest Drinking Cardioprotective?
Alcohol is a double-edged sword. Two decades ago, studies that explored the “French paradox” began to appear in the medical literature and were also picked up as news by the mainstream media. Light to moderate alcohol consumption appeared to have a cardioprotective effect. According to observational studies, the French, who had the highest alcohol intake (particularly of wine), also had the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease.
John Q. Public, who may have viewed these results as a “get out of jail free” card, may also have ignored the “small print” that cautioned against alcohol consumption as a measure to prevent cardiovascular disease.[14,15] The evidence showing lower risks for diabetes mellitus, stroke, heart failure, and total mortality stand in stark contrast to the harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
Another problem with the notion of alcohol’s protective effect on cardiovascular disease is that this effect depends on a consistent light to moderate drinking pattern, without episodic heavy or “binge” drinking. The ideal pattern seems to be daily low- to moderate-dose alcohol intake (preferably red wine) before or during the evening meal, which is associated with the strongest reduction in adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, more is not better; in fact, more is dramatically worse. Heavy alcohol use causes hypertension, atrial fibrillation, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.
The evidence for the harmful effects of alcohol is stronger than the evidence for its beneficial effects. Moreover, the risk-to-benefit ratio of drinking appears to be higher in younger individuals, who also have higher rates of excessive or binge drinking and more frequently suffer the adverse consequences of acute intoxication (accidents, violence, and social problems). In fact, among males aged 15-59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death.
And yet, other than celebrity drunk-driving stories, we rarely see headlines about the harm caused by alcohol. Dr. Rehm comments, “I do not know why a beneficial link would be more important than a detrimental link, if the beneficial link overall is about one tenth of the detrimental link. We have counted how many studies are reported in the press, and there are many more reports on the beneficial link than on the detrimental link between alcohol and health.”
“The public’s acknowledgment of the risk associated with an exposure depends on the strength of that relationship. Because 80%-90% of cancer deaths are caused by tobacco, the risk is common knowledge. If your neighbor dies, the first thing people ask is whether he was a smoker. The relationship of alcohol with other cancers, however, might be in the range of 5%-40%. So if your neighbor dies of breast cancer, people wouldn’t ask whether she was a drinker.”
- Responsible Drinking? Not Very
- The Nuts and Bolts of Increased Risk
- Isn’t Modest Drinking Cardioprotective?
- Assessment and Intervention
- Warning: Drinking Is Hazardous to Your Health