A Stiff Drink with Allah’s Blessing? (It Depends)

Muslims are fond of reminding us that they follow a book that are supposedly free from any contradictions. This is based on a statement made in the Qur’an itself: Do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction. (Qur’an 4:82)

This is, of course, a highly questionable statement. Let us test this against what the Qur’an says about alcohol.

Most people are aware of the fact that Muslims are not supposed to drink any alcohol and, on the face of it, the case seems open and shut. Qur’an 5:90 says: O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divine arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside that you may succeed.

But wait, that’s not all the Qur’an has to say on the topic. Qur’an 4:43 does not take believers to task for drinking but only say that they should not come to pray when they are drunk. The problem here is not drinking as such, only praying while intoxicated.

In chapter 16 of the Qur’an Allah reminds people of all the blessings that he bestows on humanity. He also lists: “And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.” (Qur’an 16:67) Note that this ‘drink’ is not grape juice. The Arabic word is ‘sakaran’ a version of the same word is used in 4:43 (sakura) to describe drunkenness. It can therefore be translated as ‘intoxicating drink’. So here the ‘handiwork’ of Satan is described as a blessing of Allah to humanity.

To confuse matters further Muslims are told they will drink wine (Satan’s handiwork remember!) in paradise (Qur’an 47:5, 83:22). Muslims are fond of piously stating that this wine will not have intoxicating effects, but this does not appear in the text itself.

This dilemma cannot be solved by the theological device of the ‘Law of Abrogation’ where a later revelation replaces an earlier one with ‘something better’ (Qur’an 2:106) as it deals with creation itself (‘Blessings from God’ vs. ‘Handiwork of Satan’). Are we supposed to believe that Allah went back to the moment of creation to ‘not make wine’ and have Satan do it in order to abrogate this verse?

This is just one of the many clear-cut contradictions that can be found in the Qur’an. Thus, comprehensively disproving the bold claim made in Qur’an 4:82. For a more in-depth discussion of how spectacularly the Qur’an fails the tests that it sets for itself see my book Questioning Islam – Tough Questions and Honest Answers About the Muslim Religion

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