This article tackles the ruling on drinking intoxicants in Islam, it is unanimously agreed that it is forbidden. The reason, punishment and conditions are discussed in detail.

Drinking intoxicants

Khamr is a general word that refers to any substance that enshrouds the human mind. In Islamic terminology it refers to any intoxicating drink, whether it is squeezed, brewed or cooked.[1]

Ruling: Drinking any type of intoxicant is forbidden, whether it is in small or large quantities. Indeed drinking is a major sin which is forbidden in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, as well as by the unanimity of scholars. 

:Allah says

‘Believers, intoxicants, games of chance, idolatrous practices and divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Therefore, turn away from them so that you may be successful.’


The order to ‘turn away’ is a definitive statement of prohibition.

:A’ishah reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

‘Any drink that intoxicates is forbidden to take.’  

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 242; Muslim, hadith No. 2,001

The Muslim community has always universally agreed that it is forbidden.Scholars have also included all types of narcotics and drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines, heroin, etc.  


One of the greatest and most important blessings Allah has given to man is the mental faculty which distinguishes him from other creatures. Intoxicant drinks cause a person to lose his mind, lead to quarrels and hatred between people, prevent people from attending to their prayers and other aspects of worship. Therefore, Allah has forbidden drinking because of these multiple evils. Intoxicants are indeed an important means used by Satan to cause people harm. 

:Allah says

‘Satan seeks only to stir up enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to turn you away from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not, then, desist.’



The punishment for drinking intoxicants is 40 lashes, but it may be increased to 80 if the Muslim ruler determines that such an increase is needed to make the punishment a more effective deterrent. Ali said concerning the case of al-Walid ibn Uqbah:

 ‘The Prophet (peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr applied a punishment of 40 lashes, while Umar made it 80. Both ways are Sunnah, and this last one is what I prefer.’

Related by Muslim, hadith No. 1,707

: Anas reports

‘The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to punish drinking by 40 lashes, using shoes and dried branches.’

Related by Muslim, hadith No. 1,706


To enforce this punishment, the following conditions apply:

1-The offender must be a Muslim. Islamic punishments do not apply to unbelievers.

2- He must be an adult, having attained puberty. A young child is not punishable.

3- He must be sane, for punishment does not apply to a madman or one who is mentally impaired.

4- He should have freely chosen to use intoxicants. Punishment does not apply in a situation of compulsion. The last three conditions are based on the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) statement:

‘Allah pardons my community whatever they do by genuine mistake, omit out of forgetfulness, or have to do under compulsion.’

5- He must know that Islam forbids drinking intoxicants.

6- He should know that what he drinks is an intoxicant. If he drinks it believing it to be something else, no punishment is due.

The punishment for drinking becomes enforceable in either of two situations:

 1) A free confession by the offender, stating that he has drunk an intoxicant out of his own free choice; or 

2) The testimony of two Muslim men of probity that he has done so.


  1. Ibid., p. 304.