In one of his articles1Mr. Jochen Katz has pointed out a contradiction in 2:219, 5:90, and 47:15 and 83:22, 25.
2:219 reads as:
They ask you about [drinking] wine and gambling. Say: 'Both these are great sins and [yet] have few benefits for people; and the sin of the two is greater than their benefits'. (2:219)
5:90 reads as:
Believers, [drinking] wine, gambling, [animals sacrificed at] shrines and [food distributed by] raffling through arrows are all unclean, satanic deeds; therefore refrain from them so that you may be successful [in the test of this life]. (5:90)
47:15 reads as:
The parable of Paradise, which the God-fearing are promised: In it are rivers of incorruptible water, rivers of milk of which the taste never deteriorates, rivers of wine of joyous taste for the drinkers, and rivers of clear and pure honey. In it, shall they be bestowed all kinds of fruits and [complete] forgiveness from their Lord. Are they like him who is to dwell forever in fire and shall be given boiling water, which shall cut-up their bowels? (47:15)
83:22-26 reads as:
The faithful shall indeed be in blessings watching from their esteemed thrones; You shall recognize from their faces the sparkle of bliss; They shall be given to drink from exquisite, sealed wine – sealed with musk – for this [life of bliss] should the aspirants aspire. (83:22-6)
It is clear that according to the first two cited verses, wine is forbidden by the Qur'an, while according to the third and the fourth verse, it shall be served to the pious in the Hereafter. According to Mr Katz, it is either that 1) during the life of this world, Muslims have been forbidden something which is good enough to be served in Paradise, or 2) something, which is evil enough to be termed as 'Satan's handiwork' in the life of this world is not only allowed but also provided in overflowing quantities – as is evidenced by the phrase 'rivers of wine…' – in Paradise.
Two aspects inherent in these verses, if properly understood, should adequately answer the questions voiced by Mr Katz. Firstly, the reason due to which liquor -- intoxicants -- is prohibited by the Shari'ah; Secondly, the quality of wine that the pious would be served in Paradise.
It is quite clear from the first cited verse that the reason for the prohibition of liquor is due to the potential effects it entails. The words 'the sin of the two is greater than their benefits2' clearly point toward the fact that the reason for the prohibition of drinking liquor and gambling is the potential moral vice (sin) involved in them. Explaining the potential moral vice (sin) involved in intoxicants, I had stated in response to a related question3:
Man has been bestowed an exalted position over that of most of the other creatures of God only because of his faculties of reasoning, understanding and thoughtfulness. These are the very faculties which have produced the tremendous speed and amount of development in human life over centuries, as compared to that of other creatures inhabiting the earth. These are the very faculties on the basis of which man has developed systems of education, economics, politics and all other spheres relating to his collective life. And these are the faculties on the basis of which humans shall be held accountable for their good and bad deeds on the Day of Judgment. Thus, anything that has even the minutest of potentials of rendering these human faculties ineffective actually has the potential of reducing a human being to a level far below that which his Creator has liked for him. We all know that 'Khamr' has this potential and is therefore prohibited in the Islamic Shari'ah.
Elaborating further on the same point, I subsequently wrote in another one of my responses4:
… Islam prohibits intoxicants because of the potential affect that such intoxicants may have on human intellect, the human faculty of reasoning and human conscience and consciousness.
As we know, according to Islam, the life of this world is a trial and test for man. We are being tested intellectually -- whether or not we behave as true seekers of the truth as well as in our general behavior -- whether or not we act according to what we hold to be right. We, as human beings, qualify for this test because of our intellect, our faculty of reasoning and our conscience and consciousness. All such things that temporarily or permanently deprive us of these distinctive qualities that our Creator has bestowed upon us are actually a refusal to take and face the test of life. They are actually a self-imposed disqualification from taking the test in which our Lord – in His absolute wisdom and mercy – has put us. All such things, in other words, are in effect a refusal to take the test, which our Lord has decided for us to take and are therefore, not allowed by the Islamic Shari'ah.
Thus, it is clear that the reason for the prohibition of intoxicants in the Shari'ah is their potential effect on the stated human faculties and the potential consequences of these effects.
Keeping the stated reason for the prohibition of intoxicants in perspective, it is clear that the consumption of all such beverages that produce the effects, due to which intoxicants have been prohibited by the Shari'ah should be refrained from. On the contrary, the consumption of all such beverages, which do not produce the stated undesired effects, should obviously not be considered prohibited. In other words, if it is said that liquor is prohibited because it intoxicates the mind, it would automatically follow that any drink (liquor) that does not intoxicate the mind is not prohibited.
If the third and the fourth cited verses are taken independent of the other stipulations of the Qur'an regarding the 'wine' served in Paradise, it would then have to be submitted that they contradict the first two cited verses of the Qur'an. However, if all the stipulations of the Qur'an, relating to the 'wine' served in Paradise are taken, as a whole, we see that the Qur'an has informed us about some of the important qualities of this wine. For instance, in 76:21, the Qur'an says:
Upon them shall be green silk and brocade garments and they shall be adorned with bracelets of silver; their Lord having given them a cleansed drink. (76:21)
It should be noted that the words 'cleansed drink' as used in the Arabic language, clearly imply 'cleansed from all vices'.
Then again in 37:43-7, the Qur'an says:
[They shall be] in blissful gardens; on esteemed thrones, facing each other; glasses of a pure drink shall be served to them, [a drink] pure white, an exquisite taste for those who would drink; In it shall neither be heaviness nor shall they lose their senses due to it. (37:43-7)
In these verses, it is clearly stated that the 'wine' served in Paradise shall not cause loss of senses or consciousness and thus, shall be absolutely clear of those effects, which render it prohibited and which renders its drinking a 'Satanic Deed'.
Furthermore, the Qur'an says:
Perpetually young boys shall be serving them goblets, beakers and glasses of a [special kind of pure drink]; They shall neither suffer headaches nor shall they lose their senses from it. (56:17-19)
Thus, keeping all the stipulations of the Qur'an in perspective, the complete information received may be summarized thus:
· Liquor (wine) has been prohibited due to the potential effects that follow its consumption;
· Liquor, which is clear of all the negative potential effects, shall be served to the pious in Paradise.
Now, let the reader decide whether or not it is a case of contradictory statements.