الآية رقم (219) - يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَآ أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ كَذَلِكَ يُبيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

(219) - (They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they should spend. Say, "The excess [beyond needs]." Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.)

The Holy Qur’an is not a book of physics, chemistry, history, short story or culture. It has neither chapters nor parts. It’s rather about the human action through life and guiding it pursuant to the approach of Allah (swt). The Holy Qur’an was revealed from the preserved slate to the lower sky so that it initiates its task with Prophet Muhammad (saws) subsequently. The Qur’an was revealed in accordance with the incidents happening at that time, including the questions: “They ask you what?” or “They ask you about?” and the answer is usually “say” with the exception of the verse we have previously explained:

  {وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ }

(And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near…)  (Al-Baqara: 186)

which doesn’t contain “say” as to be close to Allah (swt) doesn’t require to use even a little word like “say” as a separator.

( يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ) (They ask you about wine and gambling…): What’s the rule with respect to wine and gambling? The Arabic word of “wine” comes from the original word which means “covering”, so it refers to “covering the mind,” and that is the definition of “wine” since it covers the mind, or makes one’s senses go. The Arabic word of the “gambling”, on the other hand, implies “ease.” It is about getting money in the easiest and quickest ways possible. Gambling is when someone plays cards or backgammon or any other thing in order to get what is in others’ pockets without any hard work, toil … etc. Wine and gambling have to do with corrupt societies. When Islam came, it had led a fierce battle for the doctrine, the basic concept, as Islam did not call for what people are familiar with like worshipping statues or making a countdown on worshipping such statues, from five to four, three, two, and so on. Faith is never made gradual. There is no deity but Allah (swt), it’s over:

 {وَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ }

(And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.)  (Al-Baqara: 163)

The Meccan verses are all about the faith, the doctrine, that Allah (swt) is only one and He (swt) will account people for their deeds. The rules of Sharia, however, treat societies which might be accustomed to certain norms or habits. Wine, for example, used to be drunk as water in Arab societies. People were much accustomed to it. so, you can’t prohibit what people are accustomed to at once, and that’s why it was prohibited gradually. Let’s not forget that there is a big difference between giving advice and giving orders, that’s why it’s gradual from the advice first of all to the final order of prohibition of wine. Wine and gambling were prohibited gradually.

( قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا ) (Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.”..): The Qur’an starts by handling the habit of drinking wine. The sin is far greater than the benefit of wine, which is minimal. As the image became clear, let’s look into the verses from “An-Nahl” Surah:

 {وَمِن ثَمَرَاتِ النَّخِيلِ وَالْأَعْنَابِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِنْهُ سَكَرًا وَرِزْقًا حَسَنًا }

(And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take intoxicant and good provision.)  (An-Nahl: 67)

Allah (swt) describes the “provision” as “good” but not the “intoxication.” The word “good” is never attributed to “intoxication” which, in turn, can’t be good. Allah (swt) started handling such a spread phenomenon gradually, so the first phase was this verse. Subsequently, Allah (swt) revealed another verse with this respect:

 {يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ }

(O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying.)  (An-Nisaa: 43)

When a person is intoxicated, he becomes unaware of what he is saying, and that’s why he must not recite in prayer. Thus, the prohibition of wine was gradual, and Allah (swt) never said at the very first moment that wine is prohibited so avoid it. The whole process rather started by stating that wine has sins and benefits for people, and yet, its sins is far greater than its benefits. So, the time of having wine was reduced by the five times of prayer till the final decisive prohibition was revealed:

{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ}

(O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.)  (Al-Ma’ida: 90)

Therefore, no one should argue that the Qur’an haven’t prohibited wine, because Allah (swt) says: (so avoid it). Likewise, nobody should misinterpret what Allah (swt) says and allow what has been prohibited by saying whatever he wants. In fact, whoever wants to have wine will never pay attention to what Allah (swt) says in this regard. The Qur’an is straightforward while treating the habit when it comes to wine. Anyhow, when the Qur’an says (so avoid it) it means leave it forever. Such wording is used in the Holy Qur’an in the following statements:

 {فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ }

(So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement,) (Al-Hajj: 30)


{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ}

(O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.)  (Al-Ma’ida: 90)


 {وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا }

(And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.,) (Al-Israa: 32)

It means avoid it and never ever think of it. (do not approach) any place in which it is there. Likewise, do not approach any place where wine is being drunk. To sum up, avoiding is far stronger than prohibition and needs no repetition. This is what all Muslim scholars have agreed upon throughout history. Wine is one of the deadly sins whose prohibition is irrevocable. That’s why Prophet Muhammad (saws) said:

“Allah has cursed wine, its drinker, its server, its seller, its buyer, its presser, the one for whom it is pressed, the one who conveys it, and the one to whom it is conveyed.[1]

Thus, whoever deals with wine and gambling is sinful since they ruin the society. Some civilized societies have even started restricting wine and preventing gambling, and, by this way, they become closer to what Allah (swt) orders. Everybody knows that whatever the Qur’an prohibits is in favor of humans. Allah (swt) misses nothing and never gets benefit by anything:

“O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My dominion in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My dominion in anything.[2]

Whether we commit deadly sins or not neither increases nor decreases the dominion of Allah (swt) by anything. Anyway, committing the deadly sins harms societies. Having wine makes the brain unfunctional leaving the person exposed to absentmindedness and wrong decisions and pushing him towards committing deadly sins like theft, adultery, … etc. Gambling, on the other hand, is highly dangerous as it makes the person accustomed to get other’s money effortlessly, leading to major corruption in the society:

 {يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ }

(O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly.)  (An-Nisaa: 29)

( وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ ) (And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.): Here is a question about spending but in a different way. Why do we have such a frequent question: “they ask you about spending.” Because spending is an important part of the religion. Along with Zakat, spending is part of the faith of the rich who are required to abide by it more than the poor. Zakat has different ways to be spent and different “Nisab,” (a minimum amount liable to the payment of Zakat): Quarter-tenth of cash, half-tenth of irrigated crops, and one-tenth of rain-irrigated crops…. So, there are different degrees of Zakat. The point here is that spending is more than a mere part of the religion because when you support the needy, the poor, the orphans, … you realize the most important point of the Islamic Sharia, that is the spread of peace, security, safety and social consolidation among all members of the society. No society rises unless its rich have sympathy to its poor. What make a person give part of his money away? It is their belief that the money is Allah’s (swt), and that Allah (swt) has endowed it to him. It is a great blessing when Allah (swt) attributes His wealth to you, saying, when it is about the poor:

 خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ إِنَّ صَلَاتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَّهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah ‘s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.)  (At-Tawba: 103)

The wealth is attributed to them whilst it is Allah’s. The charity purifies and grows the wealth. What makes a man gives part of his wealth away to the poor, the helpless, the widows and orphans other than his belief that this is part of the religion!! What makes a person a good-doer? Is it for people to say that he is a generous, good-doer? If this is the case and he doesn’t get a “thank you” or a retrovert, he would not do it again. As for Islam, you do not wait anything in return from the poor, you expect it from the Lord of the poor since you deal with Him (swt) not with the poor. This is for the good of societies, and that is why this verse is frequent and the same question as such. It’s taken for granted that spending is a proof of sound faith which is what has been firm in the heart and reflected on the deeds. Giving your money away is the first proof in this regard. It is mentioned in the Hadith that:

“Prayer is a light, charity is proof .”[3]

You can ask somebody to pray hundred “Raka’s,” and they may do it. However, they might find difficulty to give a thousand pounds away if you ask them to do so. Prayer and Zakat (alms) are always interconnected in Islam, and they come together in 27 verses of the Qur’an, including but restricted to:

 {وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ }

(And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].)  (Al-Baqara: 43)

It is even mentioned in the Qur’an that the Prophets spoke about both. Jesus (PBUH), the Son of Mary, said while still in cradle:

 {وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا % وَبَرًّا بِوَالِدَتِي وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا}

(And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive % And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.)  (Maryam: 31-32)

Allah (swt) speaks about Ishmael (PBUH) saying:

{ وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَّبِيًّا % وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَكَانَ عِندَ رَبِّهِ مَرْضِيًّا}

(And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a messenger and a prophet. % And he used to enjoin on his people prayer and zakah and was to his Lord pleasing.)  (Maryam: 54-55)

Then, all Prophets spoke about Prayer and Zakat and good-doing (spending) altogether. This is what is required in any society today.

( وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ) (And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].”): Spending from the excess beyond your need, refers to Zakat. It also implies another meaning, that is to spread pardon instead of hatred by spending charities and alms. A poor person, for example, feels safe and comfortable, when you pay for his treatment, hospitalization and medication. This is how pardon spread, and grudge is removed from the human psyche by means of spending.

( كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ ) (Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.): Islam always addresses the mind: (that you might give thought.). Indeed, if humans return to their thought and innate mind with no external effectors pressurizing them, they find that the Islamic Sharia are meant for the wellbeing of humanity and not to restrict them. Some people might view Islam just as commands of do and do not (Halal & Haram), paradise, and hell. Others may want to ease the thought-to-be restrictions so they say: we pray two instead of four Rakas or fast for thirteen days instead of thirty in Ramadan. Anyhow, Allah (swt) says:

 {لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ}

(Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.)  (Al-Baqara: 286)

And this is within my capacity as long as He (swt) charges with. Allah (swt) says:

 {شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ  }

(The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it;.)  (Al-Baqara: 185)

Definitely, it is in my capacity to fast. Still, when I am ill or on a journey, I can fast later. Same as for Zakat, I have to pay 2.5% of my wealth or a tenth based on the type of Zakat, if I have the Nisab, and the annum has passed. If not, I don’t have to pay. As for Hajj, Allah (swt) says:

 {وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ }

(And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way.)  (Ali-Imran: 97)

Hence, you are always charged according to your capacity. Just consider the following verse:

 {مَّا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا }

(What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.)  (An-Nisaa: 147)

[1] Sunan Abi Dawud, Drinks volume, Hadith no. 3674,

[2] Sahih Muslim, Virtues, Good manners and Kinship volume, chapter: prohibition of Oppression, Hadith no. 2577.

[3] Sahih Muslim, Purification Volume, Ablution Chapter, Hadith No. 223