The Quran’s Prohibition of Intoxicants:
A Command That Has Saved Millions of Infants?
Or Is This Another Desperate Muslim Attempt of Proving Islam?

Sam Shamoun

On 5 August 2006, Christian apologist David Wood and Nadir Ahmed, a Muslim who is desperately seeking to make a name for himself as a debater, engaged in a discussion on the topic of Christian and Islamic monotheism, specifically, whether Christian Trinitarianism or Islamic Tauhid is true (*).

In the debate Nadir presented scientific, archaeological and medical evidence to support his position that the Quran is the word of God and that Islamic monotheism is therefore correct.

Here is the medical evidence that Nadir presented in his opening statements to prove that the Quran is divine in origin:

"The Bible says you can drink in moderation, if I do understand that correctly. The Quran clearly forbids alcohol. Today we find out that even drinking alcohol in moderation leads to what is known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Fetal alcohol syndrome, when a child suffers from this, he can become mentally retarded or, if not that, then he umm, then you know, he can get like other problems, like he can become a sexual deviant, criminal, ahh, depression and all kinds of issues like that. This was discovered in 1971, about fetal alcohol syndrome. But by the Quran forbidding alcohol in Sura 5 verse 90 it saved billions of children from fetal alcohol syndrome, while the Bible did not. This book allowed the kids to suffer from this, like the whole world was suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome until 1971; till they told people, by the way pregnant women should not drink a drop of alcohol. Even one drop, they said there is no safe amount of alcohol. So let me ask you this question: Both the Quran and the Bible cannot be true tonight. Both Jesuses cannot be true; one is wrong, one is right. If we were to assume that the Quran is wrong, we were to assume this book is a wrong book, and the devil inspired the prophet, let us just go along with that… my question to you, how do you explain that the devil’s book saved billions of children from fetal alcohol syndrome while the true book of God left them to suffer? This is absurd! Nonsense! It’s the other way around; it is a true book of God, that God of Israel which saved those billions of children from fetal alcohol syndrome, while it is a book which is not inspired by God which allowed them suffer. That makes sense. So my argument tonight is, okay, if the Quran is true because it condemns alcohol? That’s not my argument, not by itself, I’m making a comparison between these two books. I’m making a comparison between these two books, alright. There’s no question that the Quran saved billions of children from FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome, and the Bible did not. And if we were to assume that the Quran is evil, or its written by the devil or something, then that becomes nonsense. And that is the absurdity and nonsense of those who reject prophet Muhammad, that the absurdity and nonsense you have to accept. You have to accept that devil’s book saved billions of children from FAS, while the God’s book left them to perish."

Later on in the debate, Nadir’s "billions" became "billions and billions" of children that the Quran saved from FAS!

Needless to say, such grand and exalted claims cannot go unchallenged. Nadir’s bold assertions demand that a careful analysis and examination be undertaken to see whether they have any real merit and whether they provide strong evidence for the Quran’s supernatural origin. It is the aim of this article to make such an examination so as to see if Nadir’s argument will stand up to careful scrutiny.

To make it easier for the reader to navigate through the article we have broken it down into the following sections:

  1. Skewed Up Statistics
  2. The Quran’s Contradictory Statements On Intoxicants
  3. Satan’s Handiwork in Paradise?
  4. Summarizing the Quran’s Contradictions
  5. The Real Reason for the Prohibition of Intoxicants according to Muslim Sources
  6. Abrogation or Contradiction?
  7. What about the former Prophets?
  8. Islam and the Dehumanization of Infants
  9. What about Prepubescent Girls?

1. Skewed Up Statistics

Nadir Ahmed kept harping in his debate how the Quran’s prohibition of alcohol has saved billions of human lives. For this claim to be true one may want to calculate how many Muslims have lived from the beginning. It seems highly doubtful that they even add up to 3 billion. Moreover, this further assumes that every Muslim would be an alcoholic, basically a drug abuser, if he were not hindered from it by Islam. There are plenty of non-Muslims who do not drink during pregnancy, or drink only very small amounts that are not harmful. He assumes with such an argument that all Muslim women are mentally unstable and would behave utterly irresponsibly during pregnancies. Thus, Nadir’s argument indirectly insults and degrades Muslim women since it assumes the worst of them!

Also, the Quran gives a different reason for the prohibition of alcohol, which we will see shortly. The children are a mere side effect. We, therefore, challenge Nadir to show us where exactly does the Quran talk about the prohibition of alcohol IN ORDER TO save children? No, Muhammad hated it, because alcohol made his warriors unreliable, and performing the Muslim prayers drunk made a mockery of it, as we shall see.

This isn’t the only time that Nadir has manipulated statistics or numbers to support his claims regarding the Quran. He tried to do it in his debate against Denis Giron, albeit quite unsuccessfully since Giron did a fine job of demonstrating why Nadir’s statistics were grossly exaggerated:

2. The Quran’s Contradictory Statements On Intoxicants

Since Nadir believes that the Quran’s statements are evidence of its scientific accuracy he can perhaps explain to us its rather contradictory teachings on intoxicants. Here is one verse which deals with this issue:

O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter, nor when you are in a state of Janaba, (i.e. in a state of sexual impurity and have not yet taken a bath) except when travelling on the road (without enough water, or just passing through a mosque), till you wash your whole body. And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allah is Ever OftPardoning, OftForgiving. S. 4:43 Hilali-Khan

Note that the above actually permits Muslims to drink intoxicants, provided that it doesn’t affect their prayers, which presupposes that Allah didn’t prohibit intoxicants altogether.

This next reference speaks of the sinful effects and benefits of intoxicants, claiming that the sin is greater:

They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: "That which is beyond your needs." Thus Allah makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give thought." S. 2:219 Hilali-Khan

This injunction still falls short of outright prohibiting Muslims from consuming intoxicants.

The most astonishing part of this is that there is another reference which expressly teaches that intoxicants are a work of Satan!

O believers, wine and arrow-shuffling, idols and divining-arrows are an abomination, some of Satan's work; so avoid it; haply So you will prosper. Satan only desires to precipitate enmity and hatred between you IN REGARD TO WINE and arrow-shuffling, and to bar you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you then desist? S. 5:90-91 Arberry

O you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful. S. 5:90 Shakir

This is contradicted by the following text that says that intoxicants are actually part of Allah’s good provisions which he gave to humanity!

And We have not sent down upon thee the Book except that thou mayest make clear to them that whereon they were at variance, and as a guidance and as a mercy to a people who believe. And it is God who sends down out of heaven water, and therewith revives the earth after it is dead. Surely in that is a sign for a people who have ears. And surely in the cattle there is a lesson for you; WE GIVE YOU to drink of what is in their bellies, between filth and blood, pure milk, sweet to drinkers. And of the fruits of the palms and the vines, you take therefrom an intoxicant and a provision fair. Surely in that is a sign for a people who understand. And thy Lord revealed unto the bees, saying: 'Take unto yourselves, of the mountains, houses, and of the trees, and of what they are building. Then eat of all manner of fruit, and follow the ways of your Lord easy to go upon.' Then comes there forth out of their bellies a drink of diverse hues wherein is healing for men. Surely in that is a sign for a people who reflect. S. 16:64-69 Arberry

Here is how other versions translate the passage in question:

And of the fruits of the date palm, and grapes, whence ye derive strong drink and (also) good nourishment. Lo! therein, is indeed a portent for people who have sense. S. 16:67 Pickthall

And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes -- you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who ponder. Shakir

And of the fruits of the date-palms and the grapes, whence you obtain intoxicating drink and wholesome food. Verily in that is a Sign for a people who use their understanding. Sher Ali

Likewise in the fruits of the date-palm and the grapes, from which you derive intoxicants and wholesome food, certainly there is a sign for those people who use their common sense. F. Malik

And from the fruits of date palms and grapes you produce intoxicants, as well as good provisions. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who understand. Khalifa

3. Satan’s Handiwork in Paradise?

As if this weren’t bad enough the Quran also says that believers will actually be given Satan’s handiwork in Allah’s paradise!

This is the similitude of Paradise which the godfearing have been promised: therein are rivers of water unstaling, rivers of milk unchanging in flavour, and rivers of wine -- a delight to the drinkers, rivers, too, of honey purified; and therein for them is every fruit, and forgiveness from their Lord -- Are they as he who dwells forever in the Fire, such as are given to drink boiling water, that tears their bowels asunder? S. 47:15 Arberry

Verily, Al-Abrar (the pious who fear Allah and avoid evil) will be in delight (Paradise). On thrones, looking (at all things). You will recognise in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine. S. 83:22-25 Hilali-Khan

The readers should be asking themselves the following questions: What is Satan’s work or creation doing in paradise and why would Allah allow Satan’s influence extend even to his eternal abode?

Nadir Ahmed may attempt to explain away this gross discrepancy by appealing to the following passage:

Save single-minded slaves of Allah; For them there is a known provision, Fruits. And they will be honoured In the Gardens of delight, On couches facing one another; A cup from a gushing spring is brought round for them, White, delicious to the drinkers, Wherein there is no headache nor are they made mad thereby. And with them are those of modest gaze, with lovely eyes, (Pure) as they were hidden eggs (of the ostrich). S. 37:40-49 Pickthall

The heavenly wine, he may contend, which believers will drink will not cause headaches or madness, thereby justifying Allah's decision to permit it in paradise.

The main problem with citing this passage is that the text itself nowhere identifies this drink as wine. It does not even mention the words wine or strong drinks/intoxicants. It simply says that believers will drink from a cup which contains a white colored drink which does not cause headiness. If anything, one can make an argument that this drink is actually milk. After all, the Quran does mention the fact that believers will be given rivers of milk, and milk is indeed white:

A similitude of the Garden which those who keep their duty (to Allah) are promised: Therein are rivers of water unpolluted, and rivers of milk whereof the flavour changeth not, and rivers of wine delicious to the drinkers, and rivers of clear-run honey; therein for them is every kind of fruit, with pardon from their Lord. (Are those who enjoy all this) like those who are immortal in the Fire and are given boiling water to drink so that it teareth their bowels? S. 47:15 Pickthall

One can even argue that the reason the passage emphasizes that this particular drink doesn't cause headiness is to distinguish it from the wine which believers will have in paradise. In other words, the qualification presupposes that this drink is different from the wine which believers will be drinking since, unlike wine, this specific drink doesn't cause madness or headaches. Putting it in another way, the passage is not identifying this drink as wine, but is actually contrasting it to wine by highlighting the point that it doesn't have the common affects associated with intoxicants.

4. Summarizing the Quran’s Contradictions

Let us briefly summarize the contradictions and problems raised by the Quran in regards to intoxicants:

In light of the foregoing contradictions, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there are some Muslims who deny that the Quran prohibits consumption of intoxicants altogether. Based on some of the positive statements that the Quran makes regarding intoxicants, certain Muslims have come to the conclusion that the Quran only forbids drunkenness and abuse of intoxicants:

If these Muslims are correct then the Quran does allow moderate consumption of intoxicants, which Nadir claimed was hazardous to unborn children. Thus, the Quran has contributed to the pain and suffering of "billions" of children since it has failed to expressly prohibit the moderate consumption of alcohol!

In fact, there were many Muslim leaders who were notorious for their drinking:

This has led some to conclude that consumption of intoxicants, even in small amounts, was only forbidden by the proliferation of hadiths which condemned all alcoholic drinking, reports that were only composed centuries after the death of Muhammad. If this is true then this means that Muslims for centuries were jeopardizing the lives of children by exposing them to fetal alcohol syndrome!

For more on the issue of whether the Quran forbids even moderate drinking we recommend this article which can also be accessed here.

5. The Real Reason for the Prohibition of Intoxicants according to Muslim Sources

Nadir didn’t bother to inform his audience the reason given by Muslim authorities for the gradual prohibition of intoxicants. It is obvious why he didn’t bring this up since, not only does it have nothing to do with Allah wanting to spare the lives of infants, the explanations given by the scholars are quite embarrassing for Nadir.

When we consult the so-called authentic Islamic sources we come to realize that Allah abrogated the permissibility of drinking intoxicants because Muslims were getting drunk and making fools of themselves. We post here renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir’s lengthy commentary which shows this:

Causes of Its Revelation
Ibn Abi Hatim has recorded some reports about the incident of its revelation: Sa`d said, "Four Ayat were revealed concerning me. A man from the Ansar once made some food and invited some Muhajirin and Ansar men to it, and we ate and drank until we became intoxicated. We then boasted about our status. Then a man held a camel's bone AND INJURED SA’D’S NOSE, WHICH WAS SCARRED EVER SINCE. This occurred BEFORE Al-Khamr was prohibited, and Allah later revealed…

(O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state). Muslim recorded this Hadith, and the collectors of the Sunan recorded it, with the exception of Ibn Majah.

Another Reason

Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf made some food to which he invited us and served some alcohol to drink. When we became intoxicated, and the time for prayer came, they asked someone to lead us in prayer. He recited `Say, "O disbelievers! I do not worship that which you worship, BUT WE WORSHIP THAT WHICH YOU WORSHIP [refer to the correct wording of the Surah: 109]."’ Allah then revealed…

(O you who believe! Do not approach Salah when you are in a drunken state until you know what you are saying)." This is the narration collected by Ibn Abi Hatim and At-Tirmidhi, who said "Hasan [Gharib] Sahih." Allah's statement…

(until you know what you are saying) is the best description for when one is intoxicated, that is, when he does not know the meaning of what he is saying. When a person is drunk, he makes obvious mistakes in the recitation and will not be able to be humble during the prayer. Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said…

(If one feels sleepy while he is praying, let him sleep for a while so that he knows the meaning of what he is saying.) This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa'i. In some of the narrations of this Hadith, the Messenger said…
(…For he might want to ask for forgiveness, but instead curses himself!)… (Source)

Hadiths that Prohibit Khamr (Intoxicants)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "There were three stages to prohibiting Khamr (intoxicants). When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, THE PEOPLE WERE CONSUMING ALCOHOL AND GAMBLING, so they asked the Messenger of Allah about these things, Allah revealed…
(They ask you about alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men.")[2:219], until the end of the Ayah. The people said, `They (intoxicants and gambling) WERE NOT PROHIBITED FOR US. Allah only said…

(In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men.)' SO THEY WENT ON DRINKING Khamr until one day, one of the emigrants lead his companions in the Maghrib prayer and mixed up the Ayat in his recitation. Thereafter, Allah sent down a tougher statement…

(O you who believe! Approach not the Salah (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning of) what you utter.)[4:43] Then, THE PEOPLE WOULD DRINK BEFORE THE TIME OF THE PRAYER so that they would attend the prayer while sober. A firmer Ayah was later revealed…

(O you who believe! Khamr, Maysir, Ansab, and Azlam are an abomination of Shaytan's handiwork. So avoid that in order that you may be successful.)[5:90-91] So they said, `We abstained, O Lord!' Later, some people said, `O Allah's Messenger! Some people died in the cause of Allah, while some others died in their beds, but they used to drink alcohol and indulge in gambling, WHICH ALLAH HAS MADE A Rijs OF THE WORK OF Shaytan.' So Allah sent down…

(Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate…) [5:93], until the end of the Ayah. The Prophet said…

(Had they been made impermissible for them, they would have abandoned them as you have abandoned them.) Ahmad recorded this Hadith. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "O Allah! Explain the verdict about Khamr to us clearly." The Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed,

(They ask you about alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin.")[2:219] `Umar was summoned and this Ayah was recited to him, but he still said, "O Allah! Make the verdict of Khamr clear to us." Then the Ayah in Surat An-Nisa' was revealed…

(O you who believe! Do not approach the Salah when you are in a drunken state.) [4:43] Thereafter, the Prophet had someone herald when it was time to pray, "Those in a drunken state are not to approach the prayer." `Umar was again summoned and the Ayah was recited to him, but he still said, "O Allah! Make the verdict concerning Khamr clear to us." Then, the Ayah in Surat Al-Ma'idah [5:91] was revealed, and `Umar was summoned and it was recited to him. When he reached the part of the Ayah that reads…

(So, will you not then abstain) [5:91], `Umar said, "We abstained, we abstained."… (Source)

Another Hadith
Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said, "I once was giving an alcoholic beverage to Abu `Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah, `Ubayy bin Ka`b, Suhayl bin Bayda' and several of their friends meeting at Abu Talhah's house. When they were almost intoxicated, some Muslims came and said, `Did you not know that Khamr has been prohibited.' They said, `We'll wait and ask.' They then said, `O Anas! Spill the remaining alcohol out of your container.' By Allah! They never drank it again, and their Khamr at that time was made from unripe and normal dates.’" This is also recorded in the Two Sahihs. In another narration by Anas, "I was the butler of the people in the house of Abu Talhah when Khamr was prohibited, and in those days alcohol was made from unripe and normal dates. A caller then heralded, and Abu Talhah ordered me to see what it was about. So I found that a person was announcing that alcoholic drinks had been prohibited. Abu Talhah ordered me to go out and spill the wine. I went out and spilled it, and it flowed in the streets of Al-Madinah. Some people said, `Some people were killed and wine was still in their stomachs.' Later on, Allah's revelation came…

(Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate…) [5:93]." Ibn Jarir recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "I was serving Abu Talhah, Abu `Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah, Abu Dujanah, Mu`adh bin Jabal and Suhayl bin Bayda', until they became intoxicated from an alcoholic drink made of mixed unripe and normal dates. Then I heard someone herald, `Khamr has been made illegal.' So no one went in or out until we spilled the alcohol and broke its barrels. Some of us then performed ablution and others took a shower, and we wore some perfume. We then went out to the Masjid while the Messenger of Allah was reciting…

(O you who believe! Khamr, Maysir, Ansab, and Azlam are only an abomination of Shaytan's handiwork. So avoid that...) [5:90], until…

(So, will you not then abstain) [5:91]. A man asked, `O Allah's Messenger! What about those who died drinking it.' Allah sent down the verse…

(Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate.) [5:93]." (Source)

Another Hadith
Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi recorded that Sa`d said, "There were four Ayat revealed about Khamr..." He then said, "A man from Al-Ansar made some food and invited us. We drank Khamr before it was prohibited and became intoxicated, AND THUS STARTED TO BOAST ABOUT OUR STATUS. The Ansar said that they were better, while Quraysh (the Muhajirin) said that they were better. So a man from the Ansar took a bone AND STRUCK SA’D’S NOSE WITH IT and made a flesh wound on it. Ever since that happened, SA’D’S NOSE HAD A SCAR FROM THAT WOUND. The Ayah
(Intoxicants, gambling,) until…

(So, will you not then abstain) was later revealed." Muslim recorded this Hadith. (Source)

Another Hadith
Ash-Shafi`i narrated that Malik narrated that Nafi` said that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said…

(Whoever drinks Khamr in the life of this world and does not repent from it, will be deprived of it in the Hereafter.) Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded this Hadith. Muslim recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said…

(Every intoxicant is Khamr, and every intoxicant is unlawful. Whoever drinks Khamr and dies while addicted to it, without repenting from drinking it, will not drink it in the Hereafter.) `Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Harith bin Hisham said that he heard `Uthman bin `Affan saying, "Avoid Khamr, FOR IT IS THE MOTHER OF ALL SINS [Note- And yet Allah allowed Muslims to consume the mother of all sins for many years before prohibiting it!]. There was a man before your time who used to worship Allah secluded from the people. Later, an evil woman loved him and sent her female servant to him saying that they wanted him to witness something. So he went with the servant. Whenever they went through the door, she locked it behind them, until he reached a beautiful woman with a young servant boy and some alcohol. She said to him, `By Allah! I did not invite you to be a witness for anything, but called you to have sex with me, kill this boy or drink this alcohol.' So she gave him some alcohol, and he kept asking for more until he [became intoxicated and] had sex with her and killed the boy. Therefore, avoid Khamr, because it is never combined with faith, but one of them is bound to expel the other (from the heart)." This was recorded by Al-Bayhaqi. This statement has an authentic chain of narration. Abu Bakr bin Abi Ad-Dunya recorded this statement in his book on the prohibition of intoxicants, but he related it from the Prophet. Relating it from `Uthman is more authentic, and Allah knows best. Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "When Khamr was prohibited, some people said, `O Allah's Messenger! What about our brethren who died while still drinking Khamr' Allah sent down the Ayah

(Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate,) until the end of the Ayah… (Source)

See the following for more details.

It even got so bad that Muhammad’s uncle and foster-brother Hamza killed his nephew Ali’s camels and ridiculed Muhammad himself!

Narrated Ali:
I got a she-camel in my share of the war booty on the day (of the battle) of Badr, and the Prophet had given me a she-camel from the Khumus. When I intended to marry Fatima, the daughter of Allah's Apostle, I had an appointment with a goldsmith from the tribe of Bani Qainuqa' to go with me to bring Idhkhir (i.e. grass of pleasant smell) and sell it to the goldsmiths and spend its price on my wedding party. I was collecting for my she-camels equipment of saddles, sacks and ropes while my two she-camels were kneeling down beside the room of an Ansari man. I returned after collecting whatever I collected, to see the humps of my two she-camels cut off and their flanks cut open and some portion of their livers was taken out. When I saw that state of my two she-camels, I could not help weeping. I asked, "Who has done this?" The people replied, "Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib who is staying with some ANSARI DRUNKS in this house." I went away till I reached the Prophet and Zaid bin Haritha was with him. The Prophet noticed on my face the effect of what I had suffered, so the Prophet asked, "What is wrong with you?" I replied, "O Allah's Apostle! I have never seen such a day as today. Hamza attacked my two she-camels, cut off their humps, and ripped open their flanks, and he is sitting there in a house in the company of SOME DRUNKS." The Prophet then asked for his covering sheet, put it on, and set out walking followed by me and Zaid bin Haritha till he came to the house where Hamza was. He asked permission to enter, and they allowed him, and they were drunk. Allah's Apostle started rebuking Hamza for what he had done, but Hamza was drunk and his eyes were red. Hamza looked at Allah's Apostle and then he raised his eyes, looking at his knees, then he raised up his eyes looking at his umbilicus, and again he raised up his eyes looking at his face. Hamza then said, "Aren't you but the slaves of my father?" Allah's Apostle realized that he was drunk, so Allah's Apostle retreated, and we went out with him. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 324)

The foregoing amply proves that the last thing Allah had in mind when he prohibited alcohol was the lives of infants. Allah was really concerned with how Muslims were getting drunk and disgracing themselves by misquoting the Quran in their prayers and saying stupid things that resulted in Muslims physically harming one another!

6. Abrogation or Contradiction?

The view that Allah allowed Muslims to drink intoxicants at the beginning and then prohibited it means that Allah abrogated his previous instructions regarding this issue. Yet this introduces the additional problem of Allah changing his mind as well as contradicting himself. After all, the doctrine of abrogation is simply another way of saying that the Quran contains major discrepancies as the following Muslim admits:

… The principle laid down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an - has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message') occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion - WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE IMAGE OF A HUMAN AUTHOR CORRECTING, ON SECOND THOUGHT, THE PROOFS OF HIS MANUSCRIPT, deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ MAY LIE THE INABILITY OF SOME EARLY COMMENTATORS TO RECONCILE ONE QUR'ANIC PASSAGE WITH ANOTHER; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected… (Asad, Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], pp. 22-23, n. 87; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Another Muslim, one who was from the Ahmadiyya sect, stated that:

The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teachings of the Qur'an. A verse is considered to be abrogated when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur’an destroys this foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur’an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4 : 82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation. (Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], p. 32; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Since the Quran admits that if God didn’t author it then it would contain many contradictions:

Do they not then consider the Qur'an carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much contradictions. S. 4:82 Hilali-Khan

And since it contains contradictory statements regarding the nature and permissibility of intoxicants this means that the Quran cannot be from an all-knowing God.

For more on the issue of abrogation please consult the following link:

7. What about the former Prophets?

The other problem with the Quran’s stance regarding the slow and gradual prohibition of intoxicants is that this presupposes that for centuries Allah permitted countless of people to consume wine and other such drinks. The Quran’s statements basically imply that Allah allowed the prophets and their communities to drink intoxicants since Allah only prohibited this at Muhammad’s time. This means that Allah jeopardized the lives of countless of infants since women were allowed to drink wine and other intoxicants even during their pregnancy, which could have resulted in babies being born with fetal alcohol syndrome!

Even Nadir is aware of this since he criticized the Holy Bible for not preventing believers from drinking alcohol, yet failed to see how this actually undercuts his own position as a Muslim. Since Nadir had a problem with the Holy Bible allowing believers to drink, provided that they do not get drunk:

"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy." Romans 13:13

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." 1 Corinthians 5:11

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

We challenge him to show where exactly does the Quran say that Allah forbade the prophets before Muhammad from drinking intoxicants? Where does it claim that the Muslims were following the example of the previous generations of believers who had been prevented from drinking wine and other such drinks?

It doesn’t say any such thing, but assumes that these communities were permitted to consume intoxicants much like Muslims were allowed to do so in the beginning.

Thus, if Nadir were to be consistent and apply his reasoning to his own scripture then he would be forced to conclude that his god didn’t care enough for all the "billions and billions" of babies that were born prior to Islam. His god only started caring for them after the advent of Islam since it was only during this time that he prevented believers from consuming intoxicants!

8. Islam and the Dehumanization of Infants

Since Nadir believes that Allah’s prohibition of alcohol saved countless infant lives then he should have no problem explaining certain Islamic teachings which have done or can lead to serious damage and harm to the lives of young children.

For instance, a problem we have to day is with abortion, the unjust killing of unborn infants. One way which those who are for abortion try to justify the murder of unborn infants is by using specific terminology which aims to dehumanize them, i.e. identifying them as embryos and fetuses.

Such language can cause a person to view the unborn child not as a human being that is starting to develop, but as nonliving matter. And what is so bad with killing something that isn’t a living being?

Since Allah must have known that man would start aborting babies he would obviously want to provide legislation which would prevent his followers from engaging in such a practice since he cares so much for them. We would expect that Allah would use precise language which would insure that those who fear him realize that unborn infants aren’t merely developing matter, but human lives which Allah is fashioning in the wombs of their mothers.

But this is not what we find. In fact, Allah uses terminology which provides support for abortionist groups since he claims that at certain stages of development the baby goes from being nothing more than a despicable fluid to a blood-clot!

Muhammad went further and taught that the spirit or soul of a developing baby, that which makes it a living being, isn’t created or given until the 120th day of pregnancy:

Narrated Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(as regards your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for an other forty days, and then a piece of flesh for an other forty days. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his deeds, time of his death, means of his livelihood, and whether he will be wretched or blessed (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into his body. So a man may do deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) Fire, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and so he starts doing deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and enters Paradise. Similarly, a person may do deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and he starts doing deeds of the people of the (Hell) Fire and enters the (Hell) Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 549)

Narrated 'Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle, the truthful and truly-inspired, said, "Each one of you collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and then turns into a clot for an equal period (of forty days) and turns into a piece of flesh for a similar period (of forty days) and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter). THEN the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you (or a man) may do deeds of the people of the Fire till there is only a cubit or an arm-breadth distance between him and the Fire, but then that writing (which Allah has ordered the angel to write) precedes, and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it; and a man may do the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 77, Number 593)

Dr. William Campbell comments on the impact that the foregoing statements, specifically the claim that the fetus becomes a clot, have made upon Muslims:

In the dictionaries of Wehr and Abdel-Nour the only meanings given for ‘alaqa in this feminine singular form are "clot" and "leech", and in North Africa both of these meanings are still used. Many patients have come to me to have a leech removed from their throats, and many women, believing that the fetus goes through a stage as a clot, have come to me in the dispensary asking for medicine because their periods haven't come. When I would answer that I couldn't do that because I believed that the fetus was a person, they would say, "but it's still blood." (Campbell, The Qur’an and the Bible in light of History and Science, Section Four, Science and Revelation; source)

In other words, Islam teaches that the fetus is nothing more than nonliving flesh for the first 120 days, providing support and ammunition for abortionists and pro-choice groups in their pursuit of finding justification to murder unborn babies!

The Holy Bible, unlike the Islamic literature, clearly says that life begins at the moment of conception:

"Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit." Job 10:8-12

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." Psalm 139:13-16

The Bible further teaches that the soul is an essential part of what makes a person a living entity:

"Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7

In fact, death occurs precisely because the soul departs from a person:

"And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was still some way to come to Ephrath; and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the mid-wife said unto her: 'Fear not; for this also is a son for thee.' And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing--for she died--that she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath--the same is Beth-lehem." Genesis 35:16-19

"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all return to dust. Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goeth downward to the earth?" Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

"For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." James 2:26

These passages lead us to make the inference that a child’s soul or spirit is created at the very moment of conception, since the child is said to be alive precisely when s/he is conceived. There is additional evidence substantiating this:

"And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.’" Luke 1:11-17

John was filled with the Holy Spirit at conception!

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her." Luke 1:26- 38

Mary conceived Jesus when Elizabeth was already six months pregnant with John the Baptist. During that time, the Bible says that Mary went to visit Elizabeth, and when she arrived, something amazing happened:

"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’" Luke 1:39-45

Here, John leaps before Mary while still in his mother’s womb in honor of Christ. This proves that, according to the Holy Bible, a child is a real human being right at the moment of conception since Mary had just conceived Christ when John leapt before her.

Since Islam dehumanizes a baby, claiming it has no soul until its 120th day of conception, and that it goes from being fluid to a clot of blood, this means that, according to Nadir Ahmed’s logic, Allah and his messenger have helped contribute to the death of "billions and billions" of aborted babies.

9. What about Prepubescent Girls?

Another damaging practice to children is marriages with minors. Modern medical information has shown that such marriages cause serious physical and psychological damage to young girls. Christian polemicist Silas presents the following scientific information:

"An appraisal of harmful traditional practices and their effects on women and the girl child.

            Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful traditional practices include female genital mutilation (FGM); forced feeding of women; early marriage; the various taboos or practices which prevent women from controlling their own fertility; nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices; son preference and its implications for the status of the girl child; female infanticide; early pregnancy; and dowry price. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned and take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practicing them....

(NOTE:   most of these are practiced by the Islamic world).

...Child marriage robs a girl of her childhood-time necessary to develop physically, emotionally and psychologically. In fact, early marriage inflicts great emotional stress as the young woman is removed from her parents' home to that of her husband and in-laws. Her husband, who will invariably be many years her senior, will have little in common with a young teenager. It is with this strange man that she has to develop an intimate emotional and physical relationship. She is obliged to have intercourse, although physically she might not be fully developed....

...Health complications that result from early marriage in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, include the risk of operative delivery, low weight and malnutrition resulting from frequent pregnancies and lactation in the period of life when the young mothers are themselves still growing....

            The work of the Committee has also permitted the identification of certain areas where law reform should be undertaken, in both civil and penal areas, such as the minimum age for marriage and establishment of the age of criminal responsibility as being the attainment of puberty. Some States have argued that girls attain their physical maturity earlier, but it is the view of the Committee that maturity cannot simply be identified with physical development when social and mental development are lacking and that, on the basis of such criteria, girls are considered adults before the law upon marriage, thus being deprived of the comprehensive protection ensured by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The International Conference on Population and Development, held at Cairo in September 1994 (see p. 36 below), encouraged Governments to raise the minimum age for marriage. In her preliminary report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, also recognized that the age of marriage was a factor contributing to the violation of women's rights ...

            Early pregnancy can have harmful consequences for both young mothers and their babies. According to UNICEF, no girl should become pregnant before the age of 18 because she is not yet physically ready to bear children.  Babies of mothers younger than 18 tend to be born premature and have low body weight; such babies are more likely to die in the first year of life.  The risk to the young mother's own health is also greater. Poor health is common among indigent pregnant and lactating women. ...

            An additional health risk to young mothers is obstructed labor, which occurs when the baby's head is too big for the orifice of the mother. This provokes vesicovaginal fistulas, especially when an untrained traditional birth attendant forces the baby's head out unduly....

            Generally throughout the developing world, the average food intake of pregnant and lactating mothers is far below that of the average male. Cultural practices, including nutritional taboos, ensure that pregnant women are deprived of essential nutriments, and as a result they tend to suffer from iron and protein deficiencies...."


In the book "One River", by Wade Davis, page 228, (Simon & Schuster), Davis documents how when young girls are subjected to intercourse with an adult male, their hips get damaged, because their bones are not fully formed:

            "These were Loayza's concubines, Indian children who grew into adolescence physically deformed, their hips weak and permanently dislocated from intercourse." (Muhammad, Aisha, Islam, and Child Brides; source)

Again, seeing that Nadir believes that Allah is so loving and kind to children since he prohibited alcoholism, thereby lessening the number of infant syndrome cases, we would expect that Allah would condemn such marriages.

But sadly for Nadir, Allah actually permits Muslims to marry prepubescent girls, thereby contributing to the destruction of young lives:

And if you are in doubt as to the prescribed period for such of your women as have despaired of monthly courses, then know that the prescribed period for them is three months, and also for such as do not have their monthly courses yet. And as for those who are with child, their period shall be until they are delivered of their burden. And whoso fears ALLAH, HE will provide facilities for him in his affair. S. 65:4 Sher Ali

Here is what Ibn Kathir wrote regarding this text:

<divorce them at their `Iddah>, "The `Iddah is made up of cleanliness and the menstrual period." So he divorces her while it is clear that she is pregnant, or he does not due to having sex, or since he does not know if she is pregnant or not. This is why the scholars said that there are two types of divorce, one that conforms to the Sunnah and another innovated. The divorce that conforms to the Sunnah is one where the husband pronounces one divorce to his wife when she is not having her menses and without having had sexual intercourse with her after the menses ended. One could divorce his wife when it is clear that she is pregnant. As for the innovated divorce, it occurs when one divorces his wife when she is having her menses, or after the menses ends, has sexual intercourse with her and then divorces her, even though he does not know if she became pregnant or not. There is a third type of divorce, which is neither a Sunnah nor an innovation where one divorces A YOUNG WIFE WHO HAS NOT BEGUN TO HAVE MENSES, the wife who is beyond the age of having menses, and divorcing one's wife before the marriage was consummated. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)


The `Iddah of Those in Menopause and Those Who do not have Menses

Allah the Exalted clarifies the waiting period of the woman in menopause. And that is the one whose menstruation has stopped due to her older age. Her `Iddah is three months instead of the three monthly cycles for those who menstruate, which is based upon the Ayah in (Surat) Al-Baqarah. [see 2:228] The same for THE YOUNG, WHO HAVE NOT REACHED THE YEARS OF MENSTRUATION…

<Those in menopause among your women, for them the `Iddah, if you have doubt, is three months; and for those who have no courses. And for those who are pregnant, their `Iddah is until they lay down their burden.> Ibn Abi Hatim recorded a simpler narration than this one from Ubay bin Ka`b who said, "O Allah's Messenger! When the Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed prescribing the `Iddah of divorce, some people in Al-Madinah said, `There are still some women whose `Iddah has not been mentioned in the Qur'an. There are THE YOUNG, the old whose menstruation is discontinued, and the pregnant.' Later on, this Ayah was revealed… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; capital emphasis ours)

Muhammad himself married a nine-year old who hadn’t attained maturity:

Narrated 'Aisha:
that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64; see also Numbers 65 and 88)

Since Allah was kind enough to spare the lives of developing babies through his prohibition of alcohol why didn’t he abolish the practice of child marriages? Surely, if Allah knew that alcohol would harm infants he must have known that marriages with immature girls cause serious health risks, as well as severe psychological trauma.

If Nadir appeals to cultural practices to justify this perversion he is only digging himself in a bigger hole since this is a weak defense for a couple of reasons. First, Muhammad had no problem with setting aside many prevalent cultural practices such as the adoption of children, the impermissibility of marrying the former wives of these adopted children, burying infant girls alive etc. In light of this he should have also done away with this abominable practice, especially when he was to set the example for Muslims for all times. Instead, he has enshrined marriages to immature girls by his example and teachings, thereby causing "billions and billions" of young girls to suffer irreparable physical and emotional damage.

Second, Nadir tried to use modern scientific data to prove that the Quran is of divine origin, that the author of the Quran was aware of certain scientific facts which were only recently discovered. Surely, this same author would have known that science would eventually discover that child marriages are quite harmful to young girls and would want to therefore prohibit it altogether.

How convenient that Nadir chose to focus on the effects that the prohibition of alcoholism has on saving "billions" of infants, but failed to mention the other teachings of his prophet regarding such matters as child marriages and the status of the unborn baby which has done countless damage all over the world.

In his concluding comments, Nadir asked whether Satan would inspire a book which saved "billions" of infant lives, with the assumption being that the audience could see how absurd such a claim truly is. After all, Satan seeks to destroy human lives not save them.

Apart from the utter circularity of his argument, i.e. assuming that the Quran must be divine since the forbidding of intoxicants saved the lives of infants which assumes that this is the reason why Allah prohibited it, such reasoning can be turned against him to prove that Islam cannot be a divinely revealed religion.

Doesn’t the foregoing actually prove that Satan did in fact have a hand in composing the Quran? After all, didn’t Muhammad at one time believe that the spirit who appeared to him was Satan or a demon that had come to possess him?

Further Reading

Responses to Nadir Ahmed
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page