Islam and the Preservation of Human Mind

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

Intelligence is the basis of all meaningful and responsible actions and accountability. Islam prohibits intoxicants that impair the activity of the mind and degrade man. The word for wine and intoxicants in Arabic is “Khamr”, that which “covers” the brain.

Alcohol and other drugs are one of the major causes of heinous crime with disastrous results in the society. The penalty in Islamic law for public intoxication is flogging to eradicate the vice, and as a warning to others. Allah states in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) are rows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination), that you may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer: will you not then abstain? (Al-Ma’idah 5:90-91)

Islam forbids the manufacture and sale of all kinds of alcoholic beverages and intoxicants. It even discourages the promotion of such alcoholic beverages in the society, even if the promoter or salesperson himself does not drink it or use it. This prohibition is based on the hadith of Allah’s Messenger:

“The curse of Allah falls on ten groups of people who deal with Khamr (all intoxicants). The one who squeezes it (or distills it), the one for whom it is squeezed, the one who sells it, the one who buys it, the one who transports it, the one to whom it is transported, the one who utilizes the money from it, the one who drinks it, and the one who serves it.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

Basic Education for All

Allah, the Exalted, says:

Say: Are those equal who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. (Az-Zumar 39:9)

And He says:

And when you are told to rise up, (then) rise: Allah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted Knowledge. And Allah is well acquainted with all you do. (Al-Mujadilah 58:11)

Education in the Islamic society is a right for all individuals and a required moral duty of every capable person. All capable, intelligent and skilled individuals in the Islamic society are required to educate themselves in the basics of their religion and in necessary worldly affairs. The government is required to provide to the best of their ability all means that help promote adequate education. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim (male and female).” (Ibn Majah)

He also stated:

“He who travels to seek any (beneficial) knowledge is considered as a person who is struggling in Jihad for the cause of Allah until he returns home.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Another tradition of this meaning is the saying of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him):

“Whoever takes a path seeking knowledge Allah will pave a path for him to Paradise.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

It is unlawful for a scholar to withhold useful knowledge as the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever withhold knowledge will have a harness of fire placed on him on the Day of Judgment.” (Ibn Hibban)


The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.

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