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Qur’an 5:90 - Alcohol allowed or not?

The Qur’an shows verses against alcohol, in contrast with other verses that allow drinking alcohol. One of the unclear issues about food.

Alcohol is not allowed

According to Qur’an 5:90, alcohol is not permitted for a Muslim: “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.” (Qur’an 5:90).

Alcohol is allowed

In Qur’an 47:15 and 83:25 we are informed that wine is a joy to drink and permitted for the righteous people: “Is the description of Paradise, which the righteous are promised, wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey, in which they will have from all [kinds of] fruits and forgiveness from their Lord, like [that of] those who abide eternally in the Fire and are given to drink scalding water that will sever their intestines?” (Qur’an 47:15). “They will be given to drink [pure] wine [which was] sealed." (Qur’an 83:25).

Alcohol is from Satan, but allowed in Paradise

Some Muslims claim that Qur’an 83:25 is about Paradise and therefore not valid as a command on earth. But in that case we have to remember Qur’an 5:90 and 2:219 that drinking wine is sin and that wine is from Satan. This is in sharp contradiction with Paradise with rivers of wine in Qur’an 47:15 and 83:25. A Muslim is confronted with the question why Satan’s works are in Paradise.

Why only Christian faith can explain this Qur’an contradiction

In the time of the Middle East, in which Muhammad lived, wine was both the main intoxicant and the important element in Christian worship service. The Qur’an supports this contradiction as can be seen in Qur’an 12:41 about Joseph where one of the two prisoners was set free to “pour out wine for his lord to drink”. The prisoner had just dreamed that about wine from grapes, the sign that he would survive. This refers to the “rivers of wine delicious to those who drink” in Qur’an 47:15 [1]. It is possible that the Qur’an contradiction can be explained by a deeper structure in the Qur’an that supports the forgiveness of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, in a symbolic way presented by wine: “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29)


The Qur'an is not clear about drinking alcohol. Some verses say it is accepted, while other verses mention forbid drinking alcohol. A contradiction.


  1. Enes Karic, Intoxicants, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Volume Two, E-I, Brill, Leiden, 2002, 556.


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