Some people claim that intoxicants are not prohibited in the Quran. These individuals often utilize the following verse to back up this claim:
[4:43] O you who believe, do not observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) while intoxicated, so that you know what you are saying…
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ
The assumption from this verse is the belief that one can be intoxicated as long as they are not intoxicated, despite the fact that this is not what the verse states. The verse only states not to perform your Salat while you are intoxicated, and doesn’t indicate that when someone is not doing their Salat they can be intoxicated. In order to come to this understanding, they have to over extrapolate what the verse states.
The Quran is not a single verse. It is an accumulation of 6234 verses. If we read a verse in isolation and formulate an understanding that contradicts another verse, then it is proof that our understanding needs to be refined.
This is what we see when we read the following verse which warns us warns against taking a single verse in isolation to form an understanding that contradicts other verses of the Quran:
[4:44] Have you noted those who received a portion of the scripture, and how they choose to stray, and wish that you stray from the path?
The verse that clearly informs us that intoxicants are prohibited according to the Quran is the following:
[5:90] O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
[5:91] The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from remembering GOD, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنْتَهُونَ
This verse uses some of the strongest injunction against intoxicant. Firstly, it calls intoxicants an “abomination of the devil”, and secondly notice that it doesn’t simply say “do not consume intoxicants” it actually commands us to avoid them.
Here is the word for word breakdown of the verse:
God used similar language to Adam and Eve in Paradise when He told them not to approach the tree.
[2:35] We said, “O Adam, live with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom generously, as you please, but do not approach this tree, lest you sin.”
وَقُلْنَا يَاآدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
But while 2:35 uses the term تَقْرَبَا which translates to “you [both] go near”, 5:90 uses the term فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ which translates to “then avoid it you [all]”. Therefore, it can be argued that the injunction in 5:90 for us towards alcohol is even stronger than the commandment in 2:35 for Adam and Eve and the tree. This is because it can be interpreted that the command to avoid something is more severe than a command not to approaching something.