By Sikandar Azam
Alcohol not only kills your senses, it also kills you. Yes, it kills you. The news has come from the ‘dry’ state of Gujarat. As many as 42 people have died over the past few days in the worst case of mass-poisoning by spurious alcohol in the state. This is the worst case of hooch tragedy in the state since 2009, when a similar incident had claimed over 125 lives. The Gujarat police claim to have arrested 2,500 people, and seized illicit liquor worth about ₹1.5 crore during the statewide crackdown against bootleggers. The government has also transferred two SPs and suspended six policemen.
In Delhi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on July 30 announced that the government’s new liquor policy (Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22) will be scrapped and that from August 1, only government owned liquor vendors will be allowed to sell alcohol in the national capital.
Can arresting a few persons, seizing illicit liquor or suspending or transferring some men in khaki bring back those who died to life? Of course, not. And, either you restrict the sale of alcohol to government owned vendors or allow the private vendors also to do so, the situation is not going to change. You can ensure a really ‘dry’ society only when you implement a blanket ban on the production, sale and consumption of alcohol in any form. This is not a utopian idea. Islam implemented it in letter and spirit over fourteen centuries ago. Then, why can’t we do it now?
Islam calls alcohol khamr (covering) because it conceals the brain power. Also, it is known as khamr because it is kept covered until fermentation, and after fermentation it covers our senses. Buraydah relates that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Avoid all intoxicants.” (Ibn Majah) The Prophet ﷺ has also stated, “Every intoxicant is wine and every intoxicant is Ḥarām.” (Muslim) Similarly, Caliph Uthman ibn Affan said, “Stay away from wine, for it is the mother of wickedness. By Allah, faith and addiction to wine cannot be combined but that one of them will eventually expel the other.” (Nasai)
Some people argue that trade in alcohol yields revenue to the exchequer. But on deeper analysis you will be able to find that the loss in the form of murder, rape or killing that is carried out in a state of intoxication is greater than the revenue it can yield. This is why Islam calls it ‘the mother of all evils’. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Alcohol and its value (i.e. earnings), carrion and earnings from it, pig and earnings from it have been declared Ḥarām by Allah.” (Abu Dawood) Some other people argue that consuming alcohol in small quantity does not harm them. But the Prophet ﷺ stated, “Anything that causes intoxication when consumed in more quantity is also Ḥarām in small quantity.” (Abu Dawood)