Alcohol Prohibition: To ban or not to ban?

The notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in Bihar state by the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar from April, 2016 which was quashed by the Patna High Court order came as an outrage to the Bihar government approaching the Highest Court of Appeal against the order lifting the liquor ban to stay the High Court order. The Bihar government, however, introduced a new law with a blanket ban including the arrest of all adults in the event of recovery of bootleg in their houses. The government notified the Bihar prohibition and the Excise Act, 2016, to ensure that Indian Made Foreign Liquor, as well as domestic liquor is also banned. Earlier the Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned manufacture, trade, sale and consumption of country-made liquor since April 1. Bihar receives the third place in imposing the ban after Gujarat and Nagaland.

After imposing the ban on alcohol, Bihar chief minister addressed a press conference saying “Now people are not wasting money on alcohol like before, that money was being used in better ways and financial situation improving”. TOI reported.

How strange! If someone expands a logical clue behind the prohibition and it is termed as ‘draconian’- and an enemy of civil rights and freedom of consumption. Is there any wisdom to argue saying that the man who drinks knows what he does and an adult should have the freedom to decide what to drink and what not to. It’s noteworthy fact that the same adult who has the freedom to do whatever he likes cannot drink at his work place and can drink when he is not at work; it means his work should not be affected or botched due to his intoxication but his relations at home can be vitiated and destroyed. At one place he is untrustworthy but at another place he has the freedom to decide what to drink and what not to—what is this law to be called for? Whether he is at the office or home he is equally responsible. Does liquor, considered bad at work, become good at home? Is he not living a double standard life?

The youngsters also partake in alcohol abuse, they are immature and ignorant to the dire consequences of this addiction when they see the responsible adults using it as a fun tool to relax and socialize they copy the same until the point of permanent damage without realizing that it is a just a façade of good time indulging life time addiction, if someone bats for prohibition he is excoriated and called an enemy of civil rights and freedom of consumption.

No doubt, the liquor trading generates employment for the people and they may earn money through this business, but, must it come at the cost of such ill effects to the society? People spend such a huge amount on it only to harm themselves. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Overall alcoholism always bring harmful results like drunk driving accidents, health risks, rape cases, ruining family relations, causes crimes and specifically the parental alcoholism leaves children struggling with low self-esteem and depression- Is it possible to contemplate anything but loss?

It’s no secret that drinking can cause major health problems. Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases.” Alcohol does all kinds of things in the body, and we’re not fully aware of all ill effects”, says James C. Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a researcher at the University’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. “It’s a pretty complicated little molecule”.

Research based study at Harvard University concludes drinking can lead to inflammation of the liver, known as alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. It can also increase blood pressure and the addicted person is more likely to have a stroke, it can damage the heart muscles and potentially plays a role in the development of several cancers, including breast, colon, mouth and liver. Besides, heavy drinking increases the risk for osteoporosis, particularly in young women, says University of Rochester Medical Center. Drinking leads to many negative impacts like it can cloud ones judgment, allowing the way for destructive decisions such as getting behind the wheel of a car. It also disturbs the sleep patterns and adds extra calories without offering any nutrients along with it. 11,000 people are killed each year in America just from Alcohol related car crashes.

In Australia, a country with a population of around 20 million, about 3000 people die each year from alcohol abuse. Research in UK indicates that 6% of cancer deaths are related to drinking only.

Recently ‘The Hindu’ published a report at Osmania University, India, concluding that measuring changes in smokers and consumers cause formation of micronuclei, binucleate, karyohexis—cellular phenomenon associated with undesirable changes to DNA within the nucleus of a cell besides being biomarkers for exposure to toxic chemicals.

Islam’s approach towards the life is natural, as it prohibits anything which is harmful or leaves bad image for the society. Therefore, Islam does not compromise drinking either in small or large quantities. “Alcohol is undoubtedly harmful and adversely affects the mind and the body”. Its consumption impairs decision making, lowers inhibition and aggravates the risk of involvement in dangerous activities.

God mentions in Quran that Satan is an open enemy towards humankind.
“Surely Satan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his followers that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire” (35:6).
During pre Islamic age people in Arabia used to drink alcohol and involved in Gambling. The Quran came as a book of guidance to all mankind. It prohibits intoxication as it clears that the harm of drinking alcohol is greater than its benefit.
Quran reveals, “Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from remembrance of God and from the prayer. So, will you not then abstain?’ (5:91)
The following verse mentions the total prohibition of alcohol:
“Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God and from the prayer. So, will you not then abstain?”
This verse built an immediate effect on the minds of the people of Arabia. They drained all the alcohol on the streets of Medina they had. They did not want to be the violators of Divine Laws.
Islam is a community-oriented faith, a person does not have the liberty to do whatever he wants in terms of hurting people. Alcohol abuse affects not only the alcoholic but also others in family or community.
‘Amazingly, even in the light of such startling evidences against alcohol, people around the globe continue to consume alcohol in ever –increasing amounts’. Where does our wisdom lie?

Dr. Sameena Faheem Hashmi