The Killing of Drunken People
Ludwig Deutsch's oil painting “The Chess Game,” 1896
If the one who is intoxicated abjures the faith, it is valid. But that person must not be killed until he recovers his senses and is called on to repent. (Imam Shafi’i Kitab al-Umm, vol. 6, p. 148; Al-Insaf, vol. 10, pp. 331-332; Mughni al-Muhtaj 4/137; Hashiyat al-Dasuki 4/363; Ibn Qudama al-Mughni 9/25-26)
According to this fabricated hadith, someone who has drunk alcohol and is intoxicated has abjured the faith if he says as much while in that state of unawareness. This is a horrifying idea. Obviously, someone who is intoxicated cannot be expected to speak rationally or logically, and will be unaware of what he is saying. That person clearly cannot be held responsible for what he says. However, the fanatic mindset commands, on the basis of this fabricated hadith, that this person should be killed. Once again, a false practice that appears nowhere in the Qur’an becomes a commandment, and murder is decided upon.
This false and terrifying mentality is refuted by the Qur’an. God addresses “believers” in the verse, “You who have faith! Do not approach the prayer when you are drunk, so that you will know what you are saying...” (Qur'an, 4:43). It is clear that some among these people had drunk alcohol and become intoxicated. These people are people who pray. All this can clearly be seen from the verse. Since a person needs to know what he is saying during the prayer, be lucid and establish a profound bond with God, and since it is impossible for a person to concentrate in that way if he is drunk, and since he cannot be held responsible for what he says or does, God forbids people to pray for so long as they are drunk. The term in the verse “... so that you will know what you are saying,” emphasizes that someone will not know what he is doing while he is drunk and will “not know what he is saying.” Therefore we are given to understand that a person should continue praying only once this state of unawareness has passed.
Someone may claim to be abjuring the faith at a time when his reason is clouded, such as in a state of intoxication, and may talk in a totally illogical manner. What matters is what the person says and does once reason has been restored. Moreover, a person may genuinely have abjured the faith and may explicitly say as much. To use that as a pretext for killing him is both fanaticism and a slander against the Qur’an. The Qur’an curses that brutal mentality.
By making such a pronouncement about drunkenness in the Qur’an, Almighty God is saying that doing something forbidden is not an obstacle to a Muslim loving God and performing his religious observances. This verse is also an indication of Islam’s affectionate and loving attitude to everyone. Yet the fanatic mindset that desires death at every opportunity has manufactured its own false commandments despite this explicit pronouncement in the Qur’an.