I would really like to start a weekly digest, where I take current events and what the Quran might say about them. It would be fun in theory! But I’m interested to know whether or not people would actually be interested in such a thing, so I’m taking a stab at it this week and you readers can let me know what you think! If you’d like Quranic commentary on something in the news, send me a note at info@getquranic.com. Onwards to this week’s topic:

Alcohol causes significant harm to those other than the drinker

Each year, one in five U.S. adults — an estimated 53 million people — experience harm because of someone else’s drinking, according to new research in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The research encourages those in authority to look into reducing the second-hand effects of alcohol.

Also along these lines, late last year, a study called the Global Alcohol Study was released. It was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (ironically I live in the land of Microsoft and Bill Gates: Seattle). Here were some of the findings:

  • No amount of consumption of alcohol is safe, whether you are a light, moderate, or heavy drinker. 
  • Drinking is the leading cause of death and disability for people aged 15-49
  • The myth that one or two drinks a day are good for you is just that – a myth.
  • Giving up drinking completely is the only way to avoid the health risks associated with alcohol.

My take

The Quran talks about how alcohol has some benefit but much more harm:

“They ask you about intoxicants and gambling, say, ‘In them are gross sins and benefits for the people, and their sinfulness is greater than their benefit.’” [2:219]

The word in the Quran is khamr which, along with meaning wine or intoxicating substance, comes from the word khamara which means “to cover” or “to infect” – because khamr has the effect of covering up and infecting the intellect and one’s ability to think and act appropriately.

Alcohol is such a huge part of the culture in Western countries, I’m sure it’s going to be tough for many consumers of alcohol to actually come to terms with this research (or even really believe it because: “fake news!”).

And the US isn’t even the worst when it comes to alcohol consumption:

Countries by Alcohol Consumption

The Quran’s guidance leads us to that which is better for us, even if we may not realize it. By reducing alcohol consumption the world can reduce both the first-hand and second-hand effects of alcohol, but if the world cannot come to terms with those effects, then it definitely is an uphill battle.

I actually gave a khutbah on this last year

That’s it for this week. Let me know what you think, are these the kinds of topics you’d like to see or would you like to see something different? If you’d like Quranic commentary on something in the news, send me a note at info@getquranic.com.

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