April/May 1999


Edges Magazine gives all people a platform to express their views. We thank Rafiq Tschannen who has communicated with us via the Internet. He lives in Bangkok Thailand.

The Holy Quran states:
They ask you concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say: "In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men; but their sin is greater than their advantage". And they ask you what they should spend. Say: "what you can spare." Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect.
(Sura Al Baqarah, Sura 2 Verse 220).

This verse is full of wisdom. And reflecting on it there are many aspects that can be derived from these few words, beyond the simple prohibition of wine and gambling. It is interesting that these two things are mentioned together. In fact both alcohol and gambling are addictive. Therefore, we find in fact, that both these actions have something in common.

The word translated here as "wine" can be used for anything addictive. From the interpretation of jurists throughout the Islamic history, we know that all forms of alcohol are meant. However, we can go further and interpret these words that we should refrain from anything where the disadvantage is larger than the advantage. And we should refrain from anything which is addictive, because here it is quite clear that the disadvantage would be larger than the advantage.

It is also interesting that the same verse goes on to say: " ... And they ask you what they should spend." If some person, or groups of persons, are lucky enough to have more money then they need, there is a trend in the West that " we earned it we can waste it" (on wine or gambling or any other silly thing). Islam clearly is not of this view but recommends that anyone whom Allah has blessed with wealth, should spend some part of it for the less fortunate in the society. The reason for this is that in Islam every wealth is considered to belong to Allah. We the humans, have only been blessed to look after it for a while.

As now it is clear that Islam discourages wine, alcohol, gambling and in fact, everything which is addictive and therefore does more harm than good, the question may arise what Muslims should do if one of them falls into this habit or this trap of addiction. Allah is described in the Holy Quran as "Most Forgiving, Merciful" in many verses. Therefore, we should follow the advice of Allah and turn to Him and beg His forgiveness and ask for His guidance.

It may be considered that a real drug addict is unable to turn to Allah in this manner. In such a case other Muslims should consider that to lead their fellow Muslims back to the mercy of Allah is a great virtue. How can we be satisfied with our own spiritual progress if we do not assist those in need?

The guidance contained in the above verses is of course of such a kind that it will benefit the society as a whole, and not only Muslims. After all, drug addiction - whether alcohol or worse - is not limited to any section of the society. Therefore, addiction is a good example where Muslims and non-Muslims could work together for the benefit of the society as a whole.

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