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.
Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?
Chapter 5 Al-Mā΄idah : Verses 90-91
Prohibiting Khamr (Intoxicants) and Maysir (Gambling)
Allah forbids His believing servants from consuming Khamr and Maysir which is gambling. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Ali bin Abi Talib, the Leader of the Faithful, said that chess is a type of gambling. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Ata’, Mujahid and Tawus, or , two of them, said that every type of gambling, including children’s playing with (a certain type of) nuts, is Maysir. Ibn `Umar said that Al-Maysir means gambling, and this is the same statement that Ad-Dahhak reported from Ibn `Abbas, who added, “They used to gamble during the time of Jahiliyyah, until Islam came. Allah then forbade them from this evil behavior.”
Meaning of Ansab and Azlam
Al-Ansab were altar stones, in whose vicinity sacrifices were offered (during the time of Jahiliyyah), according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata’, Sa`id bin Jubayr and Al-Hasan. They also said that Al-Azlam were arrows that they used for lotteries to make decisions, as Ibn Abi Hatim narrated. Allah said,
(A Rijs of Shaytan’s handiwork) meaning, abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork, according to `Ali bin Abi Talhah who reported it from Ibn `Abbas. Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Rijs means `sin’ while Zayd bin Aslam said; “An evil handiwork of Shaytan.”
(So avoid that) avoid all of these abominations
(in order that you may be successful.) and this is a statement of encouragement. Allah said next,
(Shaytan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with Khamr (intoxicants) and Maysir (gambling), and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from the Salah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain) This is a threat and a warning.
Hadiths that Prohibit Khamr (Intoxicants)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “There were three stages to prohibiting Khamr (intoxicants). When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, the people were consuming alcohol and gambling, so they asked the Messenger of Allah about these things, Allah revealed,
(They ask you about alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men.”)(2:219), until the end of the Ayah. The people said, `They (intoxicants and gambling) were not prohibited for us. Allah only said,
(In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men.)’ So they went on drinking Khamr until one day, one of the emigrants lead his companions in the Maghrib prayer and mixed up the Ayat in his recitation. Thereafter, Allah sent down a tougher statement,
(O you who believe! Approach not the Salah (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning of) what you utter.)(4:43) Then, the people would drink before the time of the prayer so that they would attend the prayer while sober. A firmer Ayah was later revealed,
(O you who believe! Khamr, Maysir, Ansab, and Azlam are an abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork. So avoid that in order that you may be successful.)(5:90-91) So they said, `We abstained, O Lord!’ Later, some people said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Some people died in the cause of Allah, while some others died in their beds, but they used to drink alcohol and indulge in gambling, which Allah has made a Rijs of the work of Shaytan.’ So Allah sent down,
(Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate…) (5:93), until the end of the Ayah. The Prophet said,
(Had they been made impermissible for them, they would have abandoned them as you have abandoned them.) Ahmad recorded this Hadith. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “O Allah! Explain the verdict about Khamr to us clearly.” The Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed,
(They ask you about alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin.”)(2:219) `Umar was summoned and this Ayah was recited to him, but he still said, “O Allah! Make the verdict of Khamr clear to us.” Then the Ayah in Surat An-Nisa’ was revealed,
(O you who believe! Do not approach the Salah when you are in a drunken state.)(4:43) Thereafter, the Prophet had someone herald when it was time to pray, “Those in a drunken state are not to approach the prayer.” `Umar was again summoned and the Ayah was recited to him, but he still said, “O Allah! Make the verdict concerning Khamr clear to us.” Then, the Ayah in Surat Al-Ma’idah (5:91) was revealed, and `Umar was summoned and it was recited to him. When he reached the part of the Ayah that reads,
(So, will you not then abstain)(5:91), `Umar said, “We abstained, we abstained.” Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa’i recorded this Hadith. `Ali bin Al-Madini and At-Tirmidhi graded it Sahih. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs, that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said in a speech; while standing on the Minbar of the Messenger of Allah (in the Prophet’s Masjid in Al-Madinah) “O people! The prohibition of Khamr was revealed; and Khamr was extracted from five things: From grapes, dates, honey, wheat and barley. Khamr is what intoxicates the mind.” Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Umar said, “The prohibition of Khamr was revealed when there were five kinds of intoxicants in Al-Madinah, besides what was produced from grapes.”