Umar, son of Khattab, was well-known for his addiction to alcohol during the Jahiliya. He admitted by himself that he was one of those who used to drink alcohol the most! The following has been narrated in the ‘Sunni’ sources:
I was the one among the people who used to drink it the most (i.e. alcohol) during the Jahiliya.
Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, by Ibn Katheer, volume 3, page 101
It has been mentioned in a book written with the purpose of defending the Sunni religion that Omar, son of al-Khattab, continued to drink alcohol till Allah (Glorious and Exalted is He) revealed the following:
Satan seeks to cause among you enmity and hatred through alcohol and gambling, and to turn you away from the remembrance of Allah and from prayers. Will you then abstain?
The Qur’an 5:92
After this was revealed, Omar said:
I abstain! I abstain!
Difa’ ‘an al-Sunnah, page 62
Do you know approximately when this verse was revealed? And thus know when Omar stopped drinking alcohol? I believe that in order to know this issue, one should know when the verse was revealed!
I want you to provide me with detailed research based on reliable pieces of evidence so that I may use it to argue with the followers of Omar’s tradition (may the curse of Allah be upon him and upon them as well). They claim that there are different types of wine, types that cause a person to become intoxicated, and types that don’t and that Omar (may Allah curse him) used to consume that non-intoxicating type of wine. Are both types forbidden according to Islamic law?
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
We have previously pointed to this issue during some of our lectures, in which we addressed this issue in three main points:
- The first point: This verse you quoted is from Surat al-Ma’ida which is the last chapter of the Qur’an that was revealed. It was revealed when the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) was returning from Mecca to Medina.
Ibn Kathir has reported several narrations in his Tafseer which confirm that Surat al-Ma’ida was the last verse of the Noble Qur’an that was revealed. He narrated the narration of Abdullah, son of Amru, son of Al-Aas, on the authority of Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakem:
The last chapter that was revealed was Al-Ma’ida and Al-Fath.” Moreover, he narrated the narration of Jubayr, son of Nufayr, on the authority of Al-Hakem: “I performed the Hajj, and then I entered upon Aisha, and she said to me: “I Jubayr, do you read Al-Ma’ida?” I said: “Yes.” She said: “Indeed, it is the last chapter that was revealed, so whatever permitted things you find in it, then make it lawful, and whatever forbidden things you find in it, then make it unlawful.” Al-Hakem described this narration as authentic based on the standards of Al-Shaykhayn
Bukhari and Muslim. – Refer to Tafseer Ibn Kathir, volume 2, page 3
- The second point: It is a consensus that this verse was revealed after the farewell Hajj (i.e. the last Hajj performed) of the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family). Ibn Kathir reported in his Tafseer the narration of Ahmad, son of Hanbal, and Ibn Mardawayh, which says that this verse was revealed unto the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) while he was riding his camel and that:
…due to its heavy weight, it was about to hit the camel’s neck…
Tafseer Ibn Kathir, volume 2, page 3
The time span between the farewell Hajj and the Prophet’s martyrdom (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) was approximately two months.
Additionally, no group claims that this verse was revealed separately from the rest of Surat al-Ma’ida, and hence we know that it was revealed during the Prophet’s farewell
Hajj, which took place approximately two months before his martyrdom – may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family.
- The third point: Several narrations agree that this verse was revealed in condemnation of Omar, son of al-Khatab, when he drank alcohol and became drunk, upon which the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) intensively reproached to such a degree that he hit him with something he carried in his hand!
This incident has been narrated by Shihab-ul-Deen al-Abshayhi:
Allah (Exalted is He) revealed three verses concerning alcohol: The first of them is His Word (Exalted is He): “They ask you about alcohol and gambling. Say: ‘In them is an evil-doing and some means of profit for people. However, its evil is greater than its merit. And they ask you to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare.’ Thus Allah makes clear to you the Signs, that you may reflect.
The Qur’an 2:220
After which there were among the Muslims people who continued to drink and people to stopped drinking, till a man drank and performed the prayer and began to hallucinate. Thereupon, His Word (Exalted is He) was revealed:
O you who believe, do not come near prayers while you are intoxicated, in order that you may know what you are saying.
The Qur’an 4:44
After which there were among the Muslims people who continued to drink and people to stopped drinking, till Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) drank it, and he grabbed hold of a camel’s jawbone and with it he hit the head of Abdul-Rahman, son of Awf, and caused a cut on it, and then he sat down to lament on the killed ones during the Battle of Badr with the poem of Al-Aswad, son of Ya’far, which says:
In the well of Badr, there are noble Arabs and young men!
Does the son of Kabsha promise that we shall vanish, and live a life of extreme thirst?
Is he unable to push death away from me, and scatter me if my bones disintegrate?
Let he who will inform the All-Merciful on behalf of me that I will abandon the month of fasting,
Also, tell Allah to prevent me from my drink, and tell Allah to prevent me from my food!
This news reached the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family), so he went in anger while dragging his robe, and he raised something that he held in his hand and hit him (Omar) with it. Then he (Omar) said:
I seek refuge in Allah from His anger and the anger of His Messenger!” Thereupon Allah (Exalted is He) revealed the following: “Satan seeks to cause among you enmity and hatred through alcohol and gambling and to turn you away from the remembrance of Allah and from prayers. Will you then abstain?” (The Qur’an 5:92) Then Omar said: “I abstain! I abstain!”
Al-Mustatraf, by Shihab-ul-Deen al-Abshayhi, volume 2, page 291. Al-Zamakshari narrated this of him in his book, Rabi’ul-Abrar
When the previous verses that prohibit alcohol were revealed, Omar attempted to run away from the confirmation given in the verses concerning the unlawfulness of alcohol in order to continue his regular drinking of alcohol.
Al-Hakem narrates the following on the authority of Abi-Maysara, who said:
“When the forbiddance of alcohol was revealed, Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “O Allah, give us a clear clarification on alcohol!” Thereupon the following verse in Surat al-Baqarah was revealed: “They ask you about alcohol and gambling…” (The Qur’an 2:220) Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) was then asked to abandon it (i.e. alcohol), so he said: “O Allah, give us a clear clarification on alcohol!” Thereupon, the verse in Al-Ma’ida was revealed, and Omar was asked to abandon it, and it was read before him, and when the reciter reached the part: “Will you then abstain?” (The Qur’an 5:92) Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I abstain! I abstain!”
Mustadrak al-Hakem, volume 2, page 278
Pay attention to the following word of Abi-Maysara:
“When the forbiddance of alcohol was revealed…”
i.e. he speaks about the verse that made alcohol unlawful, which means that Muslims understood that this verse forbade the drinking of alcohol. However, Omar still insisted that this verse was not clear enough in declaring alcohol to be forbidden, and he continued doing this until the rest of the verses were revealed! This uncovers the fact that Omar had such an immense passion for alcohol and he was always insisting on drinking it!
Similar versions of this narration have been reported by many, such as
- Al-Tirmidhi (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, volume 4, page 319)
- Al-Bayhaqi (Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Volume 4, page 143)
- Ahmad (Musnad Ahmad, son of Hanbal, volume 1, page 53), and many others.
And when the last verse concerning the prohibition of alcohol was revealed by Allah, the Master (Glorious and Exalted is He), Omar became so displeased that he said that alcohol had become lost for him forever after that day when Allah (Exalted is He) compared it to gambling! Al-Suyuti narrates the following on the authority of Ibn Jareer, of Sa’eed, son of Jubayr, who said:
When the verse “They ask you about alcohol and gambling…” (The Qur’an 2:220) some people disliked it because of His saying: “…In them is an evil-doing…” and some people drank it because of His saying: “…and means of profit for people…” When the following verse was revealed: “O you who believe, do not come near prayers while you are intoxicated…” (The Qur’an 4:44) they used to leave it when they would perform prayers and would drink it when they wouldn’t perform prayers. When the following verse was revealed: “Indeed, alcohol and gambling…” (The Qur’an 5:91) Omar said: “Today it has been lost to you! It was compared to gambling!
Al-Durr al-Manthour, by Al-Suyuti, volume 2, page 317
Now that you’re familiar with these three points, you may know that Omar, son of al-Khattab, continued to drink alcohol during both eras, the Jahiliya and the Islamic era, and at least till approximately two months before the martyrdom of the Noble Prophet (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family). We say “at least” because he didn’t say that he will abstain from alcohol before the verse in Surat al-Ma’ida was revealed, which is the last chapter of the Noble Qur’an that was revealed approximately two months before the Prophet’s martyrdom.
Omar continued to drink alcohol under the name of “wine”, and the Sunni’s narrations are plentiful on this issue. As an example, Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi narrates the following of Anas, son of Malik, who said:
The most beloved food to Omar was ‘Thafl’, and the most beloved drink to him was wine.
Kanz-ul-Ummal, by Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, volume 12, page 626
He was an immense lover of wine. Once he was given wine made from raisins, so he called for water and poured it on the wine, and he drank it. Then he said:
The wine ofAl-Ta’if is fantastic!
Al-Mabsout, by Al-Sarkhasi, volume 24, page 8
Thafi means whatever that is eatable from dates, bread, or cereals
Omar used to justify his drinking of wine by saying that it helps to digest the camel-meat. Al-Bayhaqi narrates on the authority of Amru, son of Maymoun, who said:
Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I drink a wine that cuts through the flesh of the camel within my stomach so that it will not hurt us!
Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Volume 8, page 299
It wasn’t sufficient to keep this habit for himself, but he also used to invite people to do so, claiming that drinking alcohol strengthens the backbone and helps digestion! He used to say:
Drink this wine in these vessels, for indeed, it strengthens the backbone and digests whatever is in the stomach, and it will not subdue you as long as you find water!
Kanz-ul-Ummal, by Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, volume 5, page 522
He (may Allah curse him) was so addicted to alcohol that he expressed his immense passion for alcohol even at his deathbed! Those who were around him said:
Which drink is the most beloved to you?” Upon which he said: “Wine.
Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Volume 3, page 113
As for his allowance of drinking alcohol with the condition of mixing it with water in order to decrease its concentration, here is its source:
Omar, son of al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), said: ‘If you fear the intensity of a certain wine, then mix it with water.’
Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Volume 8, page 326
Despite this ridiculousness of mixing wine with water to justify its permissibility, the ‘Sunnis’ still narrate that Omar (may Allah curse him) used to drink intense wine without mixing it with water!
It has been narrated of our Master, Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), that he used to drink intense wine and say: ‘We will slaughter the camels and their necks belong to the family of Omar, and nothing can cut them except intense wine!’
Bada’i’-ul-Sana’i’, by Alaa’ul-Deen al-Kasani al-Hanafi, volume 5, page 116
Omar’s love and passion for alcohol continued till the last moments of his life, i.e. when he was facing death after the blessed stab in his stomach. Al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi narrates on the authority of Amru, son of Maymoun, who said:
I was present when Omar was stabbed. He was brought an intense wine and he drank it.
Tareekh Baghdad, by Al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, volume 6, page 154
Pay attention here how the son of Maymoun described this wine as “intense”, i.e. that it wasn’t a “soft” wine that doesn’t cause a person to become drunk!
As usual, the ‘Sunni’ scholars had to create a new judgment that is harmonious to the tradition of Omar (may Allah curse him) and which contradicts the tradition of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family), and hence they said that it’s permitted to drink wine as long as it doesn’t cause a person to become drunk! If a person becomes drunk, however, it becomes forbidden for him!
Some people said that alcohol is prohibited, and that intoxicating drinks do not become prohibited unless one becomes intoxicated by them, and that punishment is not carried out on him who drinks an intoxicating type of wine unless he becomes intoxicated by it. It was said to some people who said this: How can you oppose what has been narrated of the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings be upon him), and confirmed of Omar, and narrated of Ali, while none of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) said anything to oppose him? He said: We have narrated that Omar carried out the punishment on a man who drank some of his drink. We said: You have narrated this of a person who is unknown according to you and whose narration is no argument. He said: How can one know what leads to intoxication? We said: We do not carry out the punishment on anyone who does not become intoxicated unless he says: “I drank alcohol”, or someone witnesses against him, or he says: “I drank something that intoxicates”, or he drinks from a pot along with others and causes some of them to become intoxicated – which proves that what they drank was intoxicating. However, if the matter is unclear, the punishment is not carried out, nor is one disapproved for one’s actions; because either it is that the punishment is carried out, or it becomes permitted, or the matter is unclear. If the matter is unclear, the punishment is not carried out. People can only be punished for things that are certainly clear.
Al-Umm, by Al-Shafi’i, volume 6, page 156
It is obvious that such a judgment contradicts the principle which says that all intoxicants are prohibited, in addition to the principle which says that everything that leads to intoxication if drunken in large amounts; it becomes prohibited even if drunken in small amounts. Moreover, this judgment opens a door for every greedy person to become intoxicated, in which one may drink wine and still claim that it doesn’t cause him to become intoxicated!
As for the narration that Al-Shafi’i indicated, it is the narration that says that a man drank from a bottle of wine that belonged to Omar, upon which Omar carried out the punishment on him. The man opposed this judgment, saying:
I only drank from your bottle!” Thereupon Omar said: “I lashed you because you became intoxicated, not because you drank!
Al-Aqd al-Fareed, by Ibn Abd Rabbih, volume 1, page 341
This is how Omar and the scholars who followed him declared that there was no problem in drinking wine as long as one doesn’t become intoxicated!
However, according to us, the followers of the Noble Prophet and his pure Household (may peace be upon them), wine (in Arabic: Nabeedh) is equal to alcohol; it is prohibited and impure because it is a type of alcohol that is made from types of fruits, vegetables and grains other than grapes, such as raisins, dates and barley. It was named “Nabeedh” (i.e. wine) because it is extracted (in Arabic: Nabdh) from its main source till it becomes fermented and then boiled, which at last becomes an intoxicating material. The ‘Sunnis’ claim that there are types of wine that aren’t intoxicating; is a baseless claim with no evidence. That is because Arabs use the term “Nabeedh” (i.e. wine) only when referring to intoxicants, as mentioned by authors of dictionaries. As for other types of intoxicating drinks, such as beer made from barley (in Arabic: Ma’ul-sha’eer), it’s not referred to as “Nabeedh”, but rather as “Ma’ul-sha’eer”.
Ibn Mandhour said in Lisan-ul-Arab:
Nabeedh’ is well-known, it is the singular term of the word ‘Anbadha’. Al-Lahyani said: ‘Nabadha tamran ja’alahu nabeedhan’ (He extracts – the substances – of dates and makes it into wine). He also said: ‘Anbadha fulan tamran’ (Such-a-person extracted – the substances – from dates). He said: It was named ‘Nabeedh’ because he who makes it takes dates or raisins and extracts their substances in water in a vessel or a pot, and then leaves them to boil till they become intoxicants.
Lisan-ul-Arab, by Ibn Mandhour, volume 3, page 511
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib