In defence of Omar – The Punishment for consuming alcohol


We have come across an article on the net by a misguided and misguiding Rafidi. The false argument is in regards to Omar bin Al-Khattab and the punishment of the drunkard.

First rafidi quoted hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari from Ali: “I would not feel sorry for one who dies because of receiving a legal punishment, except the drunk, for if he should die (when being punished), I would give blood money to his family because no fixed punishment has been ordered by Allah’s Apostle for the drunk”.

Then this ignorant rafidi cited another report from Bukhari where stated that prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) lashed people for drinking alcohol. And rafidi asks: Whom he should to believe? Because he see contradiction in two reports.

We say: Perhaps after prolonged participation in matams this misguided person injured his brains. Because there is no contradiction between these two reports.

In the very same sahihayn was reported that in times of prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) indeed companions implemented hadd punishments on the drunkards by the order of Nabi (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam).

Bukhari in Sahih, Kitab al-Hudood narrated:

Narrated ‘Uqba bin Al-Harith: An-Nu’man or the son of An-Nu’man was brought to the Prophet on a charge of drunkenness. So the Prophet ordered all the men present in the house, to beat him. So all of them beat him, and I was also one of them who beat him with shoes.

Narrated Abu Salama: Abu Huraira said, “A man who drank wine was brought to the Prophet. The Prophet said, ‘Beat him!” Abu Huraira added, “So some of us beat him with our hands, and some with their shoes, and some with their garments (by twisting it) like a lash, and then when we finished, someone said to him, ‘May Allah disgrace you!’ On that the Prophet said, ‘Do not say so, for you are helping Satan to overpower him.’ ”

So hadith of Ali should be understood in this way: Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) indeed ordered to punish drunkards, but he didn’t set prescribed form of this punishment, as said Ali.

But it was also reported from Ali, that prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) preferred one way of punishment. We will discuss it little bit later.

The rafidi then mocks Umar, and blames him in innovation, because he prescribed that punishment should be increased till 80 lashes.

We would answer:

1) Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) in authentic report from Irbad ibn Sariyah ordered us to follow to sunnah of guided caliphs (see: 1,2,3). And in accordance to agreed opinion of Muslims, these guided caliphs are: shaykhan, then Uthman and Ali.

2) Umar didn’t increased punishment for no reason.

As it was reported in Bukhari, Kitab al-Hudood:

Narrated As-Sa’ib bin Yazid: We used to strike the drunks with our hands, shoes, clothes (by twisting it into the shape of lashes) during the lifetime of the Prophet, Abu Bakr and the early part of ‘Umar’s caliphate. But during the last period of ‘Umar’s caliphate, he used to give the drunk forty lashes; and when drunks became mischievous and disobedient, he used to scourge them eighty lashes.

Imam Muslim in Sahih, same chapter, narrated:

Anas b. Malik reported that a person who had drink wine was brought to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him). He gave him forty stripes with two lashes. Abu Bakr also did that, but when Umar (assumed the responsibilities) of the Caliphate, he consulted people and Abd al-Rahman said: The mildest punishment (for drinking) is eighty (stripes) and ‘Umar their prescribed this punishment.

And in same book:

Anas b. Malik reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) gave a beating with palm branches and shoes, and that Abu Bakr gave forty lashes. When Umar (became the Commander of the Faithful) and the people went near to pastures and towns, he said (to the Companions of the Holy Prophet). What is your opinion about lashing for drinking? Thereupon Abd al-Rahman b. Auf said: My opinion is that you fix it as the mildest punishment. Then ‘Umar inflicted eighty stripes.

3) It was reported from Ali, that he agreed with Umar on this punishment, and named it: SUNNAH.

Imam Muslim transmitted in Sahih, Kitab al-Hudood:

Hudain b. al-Mundhir Abu Sasan reported: I saw that Walid was brought to Uthmin b. ‘Affan as he had prayed two rak’ahs of the dawn prayer, and then he said: I make an increase for you. And two men bore witness against him. One of them was Humran who said that he had drunk wine. The second one gave witness that he had seen him vomiting. Uthman said: He would not have vomited (wine) unless he had drunk it. He said: ‘Ali, stand up and lash him. ‘Ali said: Hasan, stand up and lash him. Thereupon Hasan said: Let him suffer the heat (of Caliphate) who has enjoyed its coolness. (‘Ali felt annoyed at this remark) and he said: ‘Abdullah b. Ja’far, stand up and flog him, and he began to flog him and ‘Ali counted the stripes until these were forty. He (Hadrat ‘Ali) said: Stop now, and then said: Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) gave forty stripes, and Abu Bakr also gave forty stripes, and Umar gave eighty stripes, and all these fall under the category of the Sunnab, but this one (forty stripes) is dearer to me.

From this report it’s clear that Ali didn’t object to Umar on his implementing of this hadd.

Someone could say that this report contradicts to report where he said that prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) didn’t prescribe special punishment. But that wouldn’t be correct. We can easily reconcile between these two narrations by saying:

Yes, prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) indeed lashed drunkard 40 times. But as we see in the narrations from Abu Huraira, and it was also reported from Abdurrahman ibn Azhar in Sunnan Abu Dawud,  some times drunkard was beaten by shoes, and other material at hand, in the presence of prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam). So Ali was right, when he said that there is no prescribed punishment for that. And he was right when he said that prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) punished drunkard with 40 lashes.

Agreement of Ali with ijtihad of Umar in this issue was also narrated by Abu Dawud:

Book 38, Number 4466:

Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib:

The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and AbuBakr gave forty lashes for drinking wine and Umar made it eighty. And all this is sunnah, the model and standard practice.

And in reality that was their common ijtihad.

Imam Malik narrated in Muwatta:

Book 42, Number 42.1.2:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Thawr ibn Zayd ad-Dili that Umar ibn al-Khattab asked advice about a man drinking wine. Ali ibn Abi Talib said to him, “We think that you flog him for it with eighty lashes. Because when he drinks, he becomes intoxicated, and when he becomes intoxicated, he talks confusedly, and when he talks confusedly, he lies.” (80 lashes is the same amount as for slandering) Umar gave eighty lashes for drinking wine.

And Allah knows best.