“O ye who believe! Do not go near As-Salaat (prayer) when you are intoxicated until you know (well) what you say.” (TMQ-4:43)
This verse had been revealed during the period when intoxicants had not been clearly forbidden by Islam.
The background of this Quranic verse is as follows:
During a social gathering, when the Imam stood for Salaat after consuming alcohol, he faltered during the recitation of the Quran. Hence, Allah (swt) forbade Muslims from offering Salaah in a state of intoxication. This implies that the Muslims were prohibited from consuming alcohol before offering Salaah. It was after this verse that the Islamic Law of totally abstaining from intoxicants came into force in verses 5:90-91.
“O you believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Shaitan’s (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling and hinder you from remembrance of Allah and from As-Salaat (the prayer). So will you not then abstain” (TMQ-5:90-91)
In these verses, Allah (swt) has mentioned the harmful effects of intoxicants and has described them as Satan’s work. Allah (swt) says that the vices of intoxicants and gambling are a ploy of the Satan though which he tries to sow the seeds of hostility and anger between the people and also tries to stop them from worshipping Allah (swt). Therefore, Allah (swt) has sternly asked the Muslims at the end of the verse 5:91 whether they will still not give up their habit of consuming alcohol. This is because by not abstaining from alcohol, gambling and the other unlawful activities mentioned in these verses the people will be actually falling into the Satan’s trap and they would be misled by the Satan. This will make such people end up being losers whereas the Satan would be triumphant as his sole aim is to lead astray the believers in Allah (swt). This question posed by Allah (swt), in a stern way, actually meant to test the Imaan of the Muslims. Ultimately, the true Muslims understood the Wish of Allah (swt) and they accepted the fact that intoxicants were unlawful. They promised that, ‘Oh Allah (swt)! We accept the unlawfulness of intoxicants’.
There are a plethora of ahadith which have strictly condemned intoxicants.
Ibn Umar (ra) reported that Allah’s Apostle (saw) said, ‘Every intoxicant is khamr (wine) and every intoxicant is haraam (unlawful). Whosoever drinks wine in this world and dies whilst consumed in it and does not repent will not drink it in the world hereafter’. (Muslim)
To conclude, we can say that the Holy Quran has forbidden alcohol gradually. The ahadith have also strictly condemned it as being unlawful or haraam. Therefore, those who claim that the Holy Quran does not clearly forbid intoxicants are being unwise. Moreover, misconstruing the Quranic verses to suit one’s own needs is a grave sin also.