Monday 19 October 2020

Believers! Turn wholly away from all abominations, the handiwork of Satan

There are always two ways of doing a thing: The harder way and the easier way. The same goes for choosing how one wants to live one's life. The harder way is a steep climb, the path of truth defined by Allah, the mighty Creator of the universe. This way of living is devoid of all lewdness and merry making which is the hallmark of the easy way of living. But the one who choses the hard way, living by Divine Commandments has rewards both in this world and in the Hereafter. Whereas those who prefer living a carefree life, by indulging in all worldly attractions, intoxicating, womanizing, gambling, the way of the Satan, ultimately crumble and end up miserably in the world and will be harshly treated in the Hereafter.

Allah has warned all such easy going people to be beware of the tricks of Satan who takes the real pleasure out of their lives and steer them to abominations which ultimately results into their doom. The following two verses, 90 and 91 of Surah 5. Al-Maida contains such warning for man:

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِنَّمَا الۡخَمۡرُ وَالۡمَيۡسِرُ وَالۡاَنۡصَابُ وَالۡاَزۡلَامُ رِجۡسٌ مِّنۡ عَمَلِ الشَّيۡطٰنِ فَاجۡتَنِبُوۡهُ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ‏  
(5:90) Believers! Intoxicants, games of chance, idolatrous sacrifices at altars, and divining arrows are all abominations, the handiwork of Satan. So turn wholly away from it that you may attain to true success.

The next verse further explains the consequences of ills mentioned in verse 90 above:

اِنَّمَا يُرِيۡدُ الشَّيۡطٰنُ اَنۡ يُّوۡقِعَ بَيۡنَكُمُ الۡعَدَاوَةَ وَالۡبَغۡضَآءَ فِى الۡخَمۡرِ وَالۡمَيۡسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمۡ عَنۡ ذِكۡرِ اللّٰهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلٰوةِ​ ۚ فَهَلۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ مُّنۡتَهُوۡنَ‏ 
(5:91) By intoxicants and games of chance Satan only desires to create enmity and hatred between you, and to turn you away from the remembrance of Allah and from Prayer. Will you, then, desist?

In the 90th verse four things are categorically prohibited:
  • (1) intoxicants;
  • (2) games of chance;
  • (3) places consecrated for the worship of anyone else besides God, and altars for either sacrifices or offerings in the name of others than God; and
  • (4) polytheistic divination by arrow-shooting.
As for the intoxicants, two injunctions had already been revealed concerning the prohibition of intoxicants See (Surahs 2: 219) and ( 4: 43). 

It is said in (2:219): They ask you about wine and games of chance. Say: “In both these there is great evil, even though there is some benefit for people, but their evil is greater than their benefit.”
  • They ask: “What should we spend in the Way of Allah?” Say: “Whatever you can spare.” In this way Allah clearly expounds His injunctions to you that you may reflect upon them,
  • This is the first injunction concerning intoxicating drinks and gambling, and here the matter has been left merely as an expression of disapproval. This was a preliminary step designed to prepare the minds of people for the acceptance of their prohibition. The injunction prohibiting the performance of Prayer when in a state of intoxication came later, and ultimately alcohol, gambling and the like were categorically prohibited see( 4: 43)and (5: 90).
The second injection is mentioned in 43rd verse of Surah 4. An Nisa:
(4:43) Believers! Do not draw near to the Prayer while you are intoxicated65 until you know what you are saying nor while you are defiled - save when you are travelling - until you have washed yourselves. If you are either ill or travelling or have satisfied a want of nature or have had contact with women and can find no water, then betake yourselves to pure earth, passing with it lightly over your face and your hands. Surely Allah is All-Relenting, All-Forgiving.

Before the revelation of the last injunction, the Prophet (peace be on him) had warned the people that intoxicants were highly displeasing to God. Hinting at the possibility of their being prohibited, he advised people to dispose of intoxicants if they had any. A little later on the present verse was revealed and the Prophet (peace be on him) then proclaimed that those who had intoxicants should neither consume nor sell them, but rather destroy them. Intoxicating liquors were poured into the streets of Madina. When asked if such liquor might be offered to the Jews as a gift the Prophet (peace be on him) replied in the negative and said: 'He Who has prohibited it has also required it not to be given away as a gift.' Some people inquired whether it was permitted to make vinegar out of such liquor. The Prophet (peace be on him) told them not to do so, but to throw it away instead. Another person asked insistently whether or not an intoxicant could be used as medicine. The Prophet (peace be on him) replied that far from being a remedy for any malady it was in itself a malady. Others sought permission to consume intoxicating liquor on the plea that they lived in a very cold region and had to work very hard, and that the people of that region habitually drank intoxicants to combat exhaustion and cold. The Prophet (peace be on him) inquired if the drink concerned did cause intoxication. On being told that it did, he said that they should abstain from it. They pointed out that the people of their region would not accept this, to which the Prophet (peace be on him) replied that they should fight them.
  • It is reported by 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (peace be on him) said: 'God has cursed khamr " خَمۡرُ " (wine) and him who drinks it, him who provides it to others and him who buys or sells it, him who squeezes (the grapes) into wine and him who causes others to squeeze grapes (in order to make wine), him who carries it and him to whom it is carried.' (See Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, p. 97; vol. 1, p. 316; Abu Da'ud, 'Ashribah', 2 - Ed.)
  • According to another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) instructed not to eat at the table where intoxicating drinks were being taken. In the beginning the Prophet (peace be on him) even forbade the use of vessels in which intoxicating drinks had either been made or served. Later on, when the prohibition of drinks was completely observed the Prophet (peace be on him) withdrew the interdiction regarding the use of these vessels. (See Abu Da'ud, 'At'imah', 18; Tirmidhi, 'Adab', 43; Darimi, 'Ashribah', 15; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 20; vol. 3, p. 339 - Ed.) Though the word khamr in Arabic means literally 'the drink made from grapes', it was also used figuratively for intoxicating liquors made from wheat, barley, raisins, dates and honey. The Prophet (peace be on him) applied the prohibition of wine to all intoxicants. In this regard we find categorical statements from the Prophet (peace be on him) embodied in traditions: 'Every intoxicant is khamr, and every intoxicant is prohibited.'
  • 'Every drink which causes intoxication is prohibited.' 'I forbid everything which intoxicates.' In a Friday sermon 'Umar defined khamr in the following manner: 'Whatever takes hold of the mind is khamr.' (See Bukhari, 'Wudu", 71; 'Maghazi', 60, 'Ashribah', 4,10, 'Adab', 8, 'Ahkam', 22; Muslim, 'Ashribah', 67-9; Abu Da'ud, 'Ashribah', 5, 71; Ibn Majah, 'Ashribah', 9, 13, 14; Darimi, 'Ashribah', 8, 9; Muwatta', 'Dahaya', 8; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, pp. 274, 289, 350; vol. 2, pp. 16, 158, 171, 185, 429, 501; vol. 3, pp. 63, 66, 112, 119, 361; vol. 4, pp. 41, 416; vol. 6, pp. 36, 71, 72, 97, 131, 190 and 226 - Ed.)
  • The Prophet (peace be on him) also enunciated the following principle: 'If anything causes intoxication when used in large quantity, even a small quantity of it is prohibited.' 'If a large quantity of something causes intoxication, to drink even a palmful of it is prohibited.' (See Abu Da'ud, 'Ashribah', 5; Ibn Majah, 'Ashribah', 10; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, pp. 167, 179 and vol. 3, p. 343 - Ed.)
In the time of the Prophet (peace be on him) no specific punishment had been laid down for drinking. A person caught drunk would be struck with shoes, fists, and whips made of twisted cloth and palm sticks. The maximum number of lashes to which any culprit was subjected was forty. In the time of Abu Bakr the punishment continued to be forty lashes. In the time of 'Umar the punishment initially remained at forty lashes also, but when he saw people persist in drinking he fixed the punishment at eighty lashes after consulting the Companions. This was considered the prescribed legal punishment for drinking by Malik and Abu Hanifah, and even by Shafi'i according to one tradition. But Ahmad b. Hanbal, and, according to a variant tradition, Shafi'i, considered the punishment to consist of forty lashes, and 'Ali is reported to have preferred this opinion.

Games of chance are also prohibited and include all those transactions in which what one receives depends on chance and other purely accidental factors rather than on rational considerations such as either due payment or recompense for services rendered. This applies, for instance, to lotteries where the holder of an arbitrarily-drawn number receives a huge amount of money which has been obtained from thousands of other people. It also applies to crossword puzzles were the award of prizes does not depend on the actual correctness of the solution (since several correct solutions are possible) but on accidental conformity with the particular solution which is arbitrarily chosen as the only correct one by the sponsors of the puzzle. After prohibiting each of these three categories, the only kind of lot-drawing which Islam permits is that which one resorts to when obliged to make a decision either in favour of one of numerous permissible options or in favour of one out of two or more equally legitimate claimants. For instance, two persons have an equal claim over a thing which neither of them is prepared to relinquish, and at the same time there is no reasonable basis for preferring one to the other. In such a case, with the consent of the claimants, the matter may be settled by drawing lots. The Prophet (peace be on him) himself used to resort to drawing lots when he had to make a decision between two equal claimants, and when preferring one of them would cause distress and grievance to the other. (For such instances see Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 4, p. 373; Bukhari, 'Nikah', 97 and 'Shahadat', 30; Muslim, 'Fada'il al-Sahabah', 88; Ibn Majah, 'Ahkam', 20, etc. - Ed.)

All the places consecrated for offerings to others than the One True God, regardless of whether they are images of wood, stone or something else are prohibited (reference verse 5:3)

While divination by arrow-shooting essentially constitutes a game of chance there is nevertheless a certain difference between the two, since divination by arrow-shooting, in addition to being a game of chance, is also tainted with polytheistic beliefs and superstitions. As for games of chance, this expression is applied to those games and acts in which accidental factors are considered the criteria for acquisition, fortune-making and the division of goods and property.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
According to all the lexicographers, the word khamr (derived from the verb khamara, "he concealed" or "obscured") denotes every substance the use of which obscures the intellect, i.e. intoxicates. Hence, the prohibition of intoxicants laid down in this verse comprises not merely alcoholic drinks, but also drugs which have a similar effect. The only exception from this total prohibition arises in cases of "dire necessity" (in the strictest sense of these words), as stipulated in the last sentence of verse {3} of this surah: that is to say, in cases where illness or a bodily accident makes the administration of intoxicating drugs or of alcohol imperative and unavoidable. - As regards the expression "idolatrous practices" (ansab, lit., "idolatrous altars"), see note [8] of this surah. This term has, I believe, been used here metaphorically, and is meant to circumscribe all practices of an idolatrous nature - like saint-worship, the attribution of "magic" properties to certain inanimate objects, the observance of all manner of superstitious taboos, and so forth. - For an explanation of the expression rendered by me as "divining of the future" (al-azlam, lit., "divining-arrows"), see note [9] on the second paragraph of verse {3} of this surah.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
Prohibiting Khamr (Intoxicants) and Maysir (Gambling): Allah forbids His believing servants from consuming Khamr and Maysir which is gambling. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Ali bin Abi Talib, the Leader of the Faithful, said that chess is a type of gambling. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Ata', Mujahid and Tawus, or , two of them, said that every type of gambling, including children's playing with (a certain type of) nuts, is Maysir. Ibn `Umar said that Al-Maysir means gambling, and this is the same statement that Ad-Dahhak reported from Ibn `Abbas, who added, "They used to gamble during the time of Jahiliyyah, until Islam came. Allah then forbade them from this evil behavior.''

Meaning of Ansab and Azlam: Al-Ansab were altar stones, in whose vicinity sacrifices were offered (during the time of Jahiliyyah), according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata', Sa`id bin Jubayr and Al-Hasan. They also said that Al-Azlam were arrows that they used for lotteries to make decisions, as Ibn Abi Hatim narrated. 

Allah said: (A Rijs of Shaytan's handiwork) meaning, abomination of Shaytan's handiwork, according to `Ali bin Abi Talhah who reported it from Ibn `Abbas. Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Rijs means `sin' while Zayd bin Aslam said; "An evil handiwork of Shaytan.''

So avoid all of these abominations, in order that you may be successful, and this is a statement of encouragement. 

Allah said next: (Shaytan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with Khamr (intoxicants) and Maysir (gambling), and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from the Salah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain) This is a threat and a warning.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The stones there referred to were stone altars or stone columns on which oil was poured for consecration, or slabs on which meat was sacrificed to idols. Any idolatrous or superstitious practices are here condemned. The ansab were objects of worship, and were common in Arabia before Islam. See Renan, "History of Israel", Chapter iv, and Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum. Part 1. p. 154: Illustrations Nos. 123 and 123 bis are Phoenician columns of that kind, found in Malta.

The arrows there referred to were used for the division of meat by a sort of lottery or rate. But arrows were also used for divination, i.e., for ascertaining lucky or unlucky moments, or learning the wishes of the heathen gods, as to whether men should undertake certain actions or not. All superstitions are condemned.

We are asked to obey the commands of Allah (which are always reasonable), instead of following superstitions (which are irrational), or seeking undue stimulation in intoxicants or undue advantage in gambling. To some there may be temporary excitement or pleasure in these, but that is not the way either of prosperity or piety.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
It is evident from verse forty three of Surah al-Nisa’ and it is also evident from common sense that the real reason for the prohibition of liquor is the inebriation which it causes. For this reason, every thing which intoxicates will similarly stand prohibited and a small quantity of it shall also be prohibited as a large quantity on the principle of forbidding things that may lead to grave evils.

The actual words are: فِی الۡخَمۡرِ وَ الۡمَیۡسِرِ. The word فِی here denotes deep engagement and involvement. I have translated it keeping in view this aspect. How gambling and liquor ignite the flames of enmity and revenge between people is explained thus by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:
… It is a fact that a society in which this epidemic spreads in the first place becomes devoid of sensitivity towards modesty, chastity, honour and faithfulness (as is evident today from societies afflicted with western culture) and this in itself is a great disaster, and if there remains any trace of these values, then it is essential that every now and then due to them the society remain at war. Arabs were very sensitive to modesty, chastity, honour and integrity and this was a great quality in them. However, at the same time they were very fond of liquor and gambling. For this reason, bouts of liquor drinking and scuffles would cost them a lot. Wherever a person intoxicated with liquor attacked the honour of someone, belittled someone, teased someone or cheated in gambling (and such things are part and parcel of liquor and gambling), they would unsheathe their swords in the blink of any eye. This skirmish between two individuals would become a brawl between tribes and nations and such a progression of revenge after revenge would take place that this would not just be spread over months and years; even after a century this fire would seldom be extinguished. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 590)
A mention of prayer after the remembrance of God is a mention of the specific after the general. Liquor and gambling make a person indifferent to the remembrance of God, and when a person is in this state Satan gets the better of him. It then becomes impossible to get out of his clutches. The result of this is that Satan lures him away and wipes out in him forever the courage to come face to face with the actual realities of life.
May Allah help us understand Qur'an and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'an

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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