What Does Religions Say About Alcohol

What Does Religions Say About Alcohol
They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." Al Baqarah 2:219

Alcohol is a type of drink with alcoholic substance that is able to make an individual drunk. Even if it can only affect the individual in a large quantity, drinking it in a lesser quantity is still considered as alcohol as it has the criteria of an alcoholic beverage.

The history of alcohol invention is lengthy, referring to an article by National Geographic: The Birth of Booze, proofs that earliest trace of alcohol was found at Jiahu, China. Among the ingredients used to make an alcoholic beverage are corn, barley, rice, wheat flour, grapes, sugarcane and many more.

Religion and Alcohol | Islam | Hinduism | Buddhism | Judaism | Christianity | Sikhism | Alcohol in Religious Practices | Summary

Religion and Alcohol

Religion came to guide human being with the laws by the Creator (Allah) in order that human being will not cause destruction to this world. Alcohol is the mother of immoral behavior, the mind of a drunken individual will not function rationally and his action will be beyond his control. In fact, the majority of religions forbid the consumption of alcohol. Previously, Islam in the only religion that famously known for its prohibition of alcohol, however it is to note that other religion also prohibits it:

1. Islam

In Islam, the number of verses concerning the prohibition of alcohol are lesser than other religions such as in the Bible and Hindu scriptures. Even so, as Muslim means someone whom submits to the command of Allah hence the amount of verses is not the main focus instead it is the command in the scripture that takes into account. That is the reason why Muslims are more sensitive when it comes to alcohol. Below are verses in the Holy Quran that mentions the prohibition of alcohol.

a) Al-Baqarah 2:219
b) Al-Ma’idah 5:90
c) An-Nahl 16:97

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:90)

2. Hinduism

Verses that prohibits the consumption of alcohol:

a) Rigveda book 8 hymn 2 verse 12
b) Rigveda book 8 hymn 21 verse 14
c) Athravaveda 6: 70: 1
d) Manusmriti Scripture 7: 47-50
e) Manusmriti: 11: 55
f) Manusmriti 11: 91
g) In the Manusmriti Scripture 9:225, the selling of alcohol is also forbidden.

In Hinduism, Soma and Sura drink are differentiated. Soma is a fermented juice drink used in religion ritual (Vedic Times) and it is said to be an alcoholic beverage that is mentioned numerous times in Veda (Rig Veda 1:116:7, 8:2:12, 10:131:4-5) however, the ingredient for this beverage is already extinct and cannot be made today. There are opinions that it is made from milk or a climbing plant which thrives in mountain areas. (Mark Cartwright: Ancient History Encyclopedia: Soma: 2016).

While Sura is a form of liquor, same as other kinds of alcoholic beverage available in this era. According to Madhavi Bhaskar Kokhatkar in his journal “Review: Surā, The Liquor and The Vedic Sacrifice”, it stated that Sura or this liquor is forbidden in Hinduism.

Even though Veda allows the consumption of Soma, at the same time it forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverage (Sura):

“Weak minds are attracted towards meat, alcohol, sensuality and womanizing. But O non-violent mind, you focus your mind towards the world in same manner as a mother cares for her child.” (Athravaveda: 6: 70: 1)

One becomes sinful if he or she crosses even one of the 7 restraints. Yaskacharya defines these 7 sins in his Nirukta as: Theft, Adultery, Murder of a noble person, Abortion, Dishonesty, Repeating misdeeds and consumption of alcohol. (Rigveda 10:5:6)

This shows that drinking alcoholic beverage is forbidden and there are many verses in the Manusmriti scripture that prohibit the consumption of Sura.

“Killing a Brahmana, drinking (the spirituous liquor called) Sura, stealing (the gold of a Brahmana), adultery with a Guru’s wife, and associating with such (fenders), they declare (to be) mortal sins (mahapataka).” (Manusmriti: 11: 55)

“A twice-born man who has (intentionally) drunk, through delusion of mind, (the spirituous liquor called) Sura shall drink that liquor boiling hot; when his body has been completely scalded by that, he is freed from his guilt.” (Manusmriti 11: 91)

In fact, on early April 2016 it did not become an issue when the Chief Minister of Bihar state, Nitish Kumar prohibits alcohol in the state with the majority is Hindu.

3. Buddhism

According to Buddha teachings of Pencasila (Five Precepts), the last precepts states that one must avoid intoxicating beverage. In the Pali language “Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami” translated as abstaining oneself from drinking intoxicating beverage.

Even a Buddhist Monk by the name of Master Hsing Yun in his book, The Five Precepts states it is still forbidden to consume even a little of alcohol. Same goes to other Buddhist monk and scholars:

“The Vibhanga states that even as little as a drop the size of a dewdrop on the tip of a balde of grass is enough to constitute a violation. So, having even small glass of wine, even if it does not make one drunk, is a transgression.” (Veberable Fa Xun: One Life Five Precepts: 2011: page 73)

“It it known that intoxicants even in small amounts can make one less sensitive, heedless and easily swayed by the defilements. As one starts to enjoy getting high on intoxicants, the effect becomes addictive and usage increases.” (Chan Khoon San, Introductory Course in Buddhism: 2002 page 89)

4. Judaism

In the Old Testament, there are many verses on the prohibition of alcohol:

a) Leviticus 10:9
b) Numbers 6:3 c) Deuteronomy 29:6
d) Judges 13: 4
e) Judges 14: 1
f) Samuel 1: 15
h) Proverbs 20: 1, 31: 4-6
g) Isaiah 5: 11, 22: 24: 9, 28: 9
h) Micah 2: 11

5. Christianity

Prohibition of alcohol is as stated in the Old Testament while in the New Testament Luke 1:15 and Ephesians 5: 18.

6. Sikhism

In Sikhism scripture, Guru Granth Sahib Ji compilation of Guru Gobing Singh, there is prohibition of alcohol consumption:

“Drinking the wine, his intelligence departs, and madness enters his mind.” (Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Page 554)

In Sikhism, there are 5 basic prohibitions;

1) Cutting ones hair
2) Bad behavior
3) Smoking
4) Eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner
5) Alcohol consumption

7. Alcohol in Religious Practices

Alcohol is used in religious practices of some Animism religion and spirit worshipers. This is also the same for some of the biggest cult in Africa and the African American community such as Candomble, Kumina, Voodoo, Umbanda, Quimbanda, Santeria and many others.

Besides that, alcohol is also used as part of religious ritual in some Christian’s teachings. For example Black Christ uses alcohol due to the syncretism people practice (animism) adding on with the teachings of Christianity by Christian missionaries so that there is alcohol in religion.

Apart from that, the consumption of alcohol in Christianity is due to misinterpretation of the texts from the Bible. Even though there are prohibitions in the Bible, the justification given is that alcohol can be consumed as long as one refrains from getting drunk. There is also commentary that the verses were revealed in the ancient times and the situation is not the same as today. Besides that, another interpretation is the prohibition is specifically for the Jews hence the Gentiles is allowed to consume alcohol. There are even more misinterpretations made towards the verses.

That is one of the main factors resulting in the corruption of religion. Syncretism from other beliefs mixed with religious practices between one religion and another, also the misinterpretation of liberals that deviate from the original text.


The majority of religion prohibits alcohol. Even logically, human beings will refuse the harming effects of alcohol consumption. If the benefits and detrimental effects of alcohol were to be compared, indefinitely the detrimental effects are greater. In fact, due to alcohol consumption an individual can easily engaged in crime as the mind is in an unstable condition. Due to the same reason also, there are laws made worldwide on driving under the influence of alcohol. A human being with a sane mind will surely refrain from alcohol consumption, specifically because it is the command of Allah and also because of the harmful effects. A story taken from the Buddhist Monk, Master Hsing Yun in his book The Five Precepts:

“There once was a man who wanted to “just have a little drink,” but he did not have a dish of food to go with it. Seeing that his next-door neighbour was raising an old hen that was cackling away, he stole the hen and killed it to make a dish to eat while he drank his liquor. Thus he had broken the precepts against killing and stealing in one fell swoop. When the lady of the house next door came home and asked about her hen, the man told her that he had not seen it, thereby breaking the precept against lying. By now the man was a bit drunk, and seeing how beautiful the woman was, he started flirting with her and touching her in an indecent manner. Consequently, he also broke the precept against sexual misconduct. It was because of consuming intoxicants that all five precepts were broken in one stroke.”

Just a little drink drove a human being into violating the laws and tenets, hence alcohol can be describe as mother of all evil. As stated in a Hadith الخمر أم الخبائث “Alcohol is the mother of all evil” (Silasat al-Hadith as-Sahiha no:1854).

Allah knows best.

MRM R&D Team

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