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Alcohol and its Impact on Society

by Dr. Ishaq Y. Qutub

I would like to confine this article to alcohol abuse, since it is so commonly used in Western society. No dinner is complete without wine. It is an integral part of the culture of this society. Even churches do not discourage alcohol use. It is commonly used in each household; it is not looked upon as an evil as in the Islamic society. The consequences of this are such that it involves more and younger people every day.

Even this society which considers alcohol as a part of the culture has become aware of its disadvantages:ECONOMIC IMPACTS: Alcohol abuse and alcoholism costs 60 billion dollars annually. Alcohol consumption has increased by more than 30% in the last 20 years. More than 200,000 Americans die of alcoholism annually. One in every ten deaths is alcohol-related. Twenty percent of the total national expenditure for hospital care is alcohol related, and 12% of the total national health expenditure for adults is for alcohol abuse. TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, HOMICIDE, SUICIDES: Fifty percent of traffic fatalities, 50% of death by fire, 67% drowning, 67% homicide and aggravated assaults, 40% forceful rape and 35% of suicide are caused by the use of alcohol. CANCER AND OTHER RELATED ILLNESSES: Alcoholism causes cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx and esophagus, tongue, bladder and liver. These cancers are much higher in alcoholics as compared to non-alcoholics. It causes brain dysfunction and brain atrophy. Prolonged alcohol ingestion causes weakness in the body due to involvement of the nerves. Alcohol abuse causes impotence as well as loss of libido. It has been implicated in the diseases of the heart involving muscle, blood vessel and also causes irregular heartbeat, which is the cause of sudden death in some cases. It is also responsible for numerous gastrointestinal problems. It is responsible for deformed babies if drinking occurs during pregnancy (alcohol fetal syndrome). By reviewing medical literature, there are certainly more disadvantages than advantages. It is the cause of many problems of Western society. My attention was drawn recently to a newspaper article, depicting a Muslim saying: "As long as I do not perform Salat while intoxicated, I can drink alcohol." The implication was that alcohol is not prohibited in Islam as long as one avoids praying while under its influence. I disputed this in my mind, and when I returned home I opened the HOLY QURAN and read the verses regarding the prohibition of intoxication. They are as follows: The Second Surah Verse 220 They will ask thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say! "in both there is great evil as well as some benefit for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring." In the above verse, it appears that only disadvantage vs. advantage was sorted out. At a subsequent time another verse was revealed which is as follows: The Fourth Surah Verse 43 "O you who have attained to Faith! Intoxicants and games of chance, and idolatrous practices, and the divining of the future are but a loathsome evil of Satan's doing: shun it, then, so that you might attain a happy state." In all of these verses, the emphasis is on the avoidance of intoxication. To intoxicate is defined as to induce, especially by the effect of ingested alcohol, any of a series of progressively deteriorating states ranging from exhilaration to stupefaction. Alcohol, like drugs, cause dependence and when it is not used produces withdrawal symptoms. If we obey Allah and follow the teachings of Islam, and do not get involved in drinking, we will benefit mentally and physically. Temporary euphoria has certainly been a step down the path of destruction. To conclude, I appeal to all of humankind to look at alcohol as a drug, which will do nothing but ruin lives.

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