Opinion 1 February issue By Suhaib Ashraf Bhat
Lethal Effects of Alcohol
Suhaib Ashraf Bhat
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties that has been widely used in many cultures for centuries. The harmful use of alcohol causes a large disease, social and economic burden in societies. Alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient that is present in wine, beer, and spirits. It is a depressant, which means that when it reaches the brain, it slows down the body’s systems. It can also be difficult for the body to process, putting extra pressure on the liver, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, and other functions.
The harmful use of alcohol can also result in harm to other people, such as family members, friends, co-workers and strangers. Moreover, the harmful use of alcohol results in a significant health, social and economic burden on society at large.
Alcohol consumption is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions. Drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, including alcohol dependence, major non communicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases, as well as injuries resulting from violence and road clashes and collisions.
A significant proportion of the disease burden attributable to alcohol consumption arises from unintentional and intentional injuries, including those due to road traffic crashes, violence, and suicides, and fatal alcohol-related injuries tend to occur in relatively younger age groups.’
Alcohol and other intoxicants are forbidden in the Quran, as they are a bad habit that drives people away from the remembrance of Allah swt. Several different verses address the issue, revealed at different times over a period of years. A complete ban on alcohol is widely accepted among Muslims as part of wider Islamic dietary law.
The texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicate that zina, alcohol and gambling are major sins. Allah swt says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al‑Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to idols etc) and Al‑Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful” [al-Maa’idah 5:90]
“And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a Faahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits: a great sin), and an evil way that leads one to hell unless Allah swt forgives him” [Al-Isra’ 17:32].
Al-Bukhaari narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah swt be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) said: “No adulterer is a believer at the time when he is committing adultery; no thief is a believer at the time when he is stealing; no drinker of wine is a believer at the time when he is drinking it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5578) and Muslim (57).
Allah swt has made avoiding these evil deeds a condition of expiation of bad deeds and rising in status. Allah swt says (interpretation of the meaning):
“If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall expiate from you your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise)” [Al-Nisa’ 4:31].
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah swt (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) used to say: “The five daily prayers, from one Jumu’ah to the next, and from one Ramadaan to the next, are an expiation for whatever (sins) come in between, so long as one avoids major sins.” Narrated by Muslim (233).
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) cursed ten with regard to alcohol: the one who squeezes it (the grapes etc), the one for whom it is squeezed, the one who drinks it, the one who carries it, the one to whom it is carried, the one who pours it, the one who sells it, the one who consumes its price, the one who buys it and the one for whom it is bought.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1259; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.
It leads to all evil and bad attitudes, and it is the mother of all evils.
But the matter may vary, according to the evils and corruption that result from it. A man may commit zina once and then never repeat it; a man may drink alcohol and become addicted to it, so his attitude becomes bad and he commits a lot of immoral deeds, forsakes his family and does not spend on his children; his love of alcohol may tempt him to steal and keep company with bad people, and other things that some of these people may fall into. So in that case, his situation is worse and his sin is greater than the one who commits zina once and then gives up zina.
Al-Nasaa’i (5666) narrated that ‘Uthmaan (may Allah swt be pleased with him) said: “Avoid alcohol for it is the mother of all evils. There was a man among the people who came before you who was a devoted worshipper. A seductive woman fell in love with him, and she sent her slave-woman to him to call him to bear witness. He went with the slave-woman, and every time they passed through a door, she locked it behind them, until he reached a beautiful woman with whom was a child and a vessel of wine. She said, ‘I did not call you to bear witness, rather I called you either to have intercourse with me, or to drink a cup of this wine, or to kill this child.’ He said, ‘Pour me some of this wine.’ So she poured him a cup, then he said, ‘Give me more,’ and he did not stop until he had has intercourse with her and killed the child. So avoid alcohol, for by Alaah swt faith and addiction to wine cannot be combined except soon one of them will be expelled.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
A variety of factors have been identified at the individual and the societal level, which affect the levels and patterns of alcohol consumption and the magnitude of alcohol-related problems in populations.
Environmental factors include economic development, culture, availability of alcohol, and the comprehensiveness and levels of implementation and enforcement of alcohol policies. For a given level or pattern of drinking, vulnerabilities within a society are likely to have similar differential effects as those between societies. Although there is no single risk factor that is dominant, the more vulnerabilities a person has, the more likely the person is to develop alcohol-related problems as a result of alcohol consumption. The harmful use of alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for population health worldwide and has a direct impact on many health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases (HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis), non communicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings. Alcohol is specifically mentioned under health target 3.5: “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance use, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol”.
Al-Saawi said in his commentary on al-Sharh al-Sagheer (4/500) about drinking alcohol:
Its evil consequences are worse than the evil consequences of zina because it is very common, because drinking it may lead to zina, stealing and murder, hence it was narrated that it is the mother of evils. End quote.
What is required is to keep away from all of that and similar major sins and haram actions. The one who has a problem with any of these evils at any time should conceal himself with the concealment of Allah swt and hasten to repent before it is too late and before a seal is placed on his heart as the result of continuing evil actions and sins.
If a person consumes large amounts of alcohol regularly, their tolerance can increase, and the body requires more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. As the body adapts to the presence of the drug, dependency and addiction can result. If consumption stops suddenly, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol addiction is a disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, and continued use despite a negative impact on health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. If the person stops drinking, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Signs and symptoms of withdrawal generally occur between 4 and 72 hours after the last drink or after reducing intake. They peak at about 48 hours and may last up to 5 days.They may include:Mild tremorsInsomniaAnxietyDepressed moodMany people will take a drink to stop the discomfort of withdrawal.
In more severe cases, the person may experience Delirium tremens, or “the DTs.”
This condition involves:Body tremors (shaking)Hallucinations or changes in mental statusConfusionExtreme sleepinessSeizures that can result in death
Delirium tremens is a medical emergency. Anyone with an alcohol dependency disorder who desires to stop drinking should seek professional medical care or a treatment centre specializing in safe alcohol detoxification.