Is it permissible to drink alcoholic drinks such as (araq and beer) excluding the wine, to the limit that will not get a person drunk?

Details of the Question
There are some people who claims that, it is permissible to drink alcoholic drinks such as (araq and beer) excluding the wine, to the limit that will not get a person drunk, referring to Imam-I Azam Abu Hanafi and some companions of Prophet Mohammad (sallallahu aleyhu vesellem), what is the truth behind these rumors?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

In our religion any drink, little or much, that gets a person drunk are all rendered as haram (illicit). Islam has  rendered all sorts of drinks that gets one drunk haram (illicit) and prohibited believers to drink any of them. A true Muslim should stay away from alcohol and drugs. In the Noble Qur'an, the following is stated “O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed. Satan seeketh only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of strong drink and games of chance, and to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from (His) worship. Will ye then have done ?” (Al-Maidah, 5/90-91) That verse clearly expresses the profound reasons for the alcohol prohibition.  
In the Hadiths, using/drinking every sort of substances that intoxicate people is strongly prohibited. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Every drink that makes you drunk is haram (illicit).” (Bukhari, Wudu, 71; Adab, 80; Muslim, Ashriba, 7); “If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is also prohibited .” (Abu Dawud, Ashriba, 5: Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 3).
As it can be understood from the hadiths above, drinking alcohol, whether a little or too much, is haram (illicit). If a person does something that is illicit it means that person has committed haram and committed sins. That person who has committed sins should abandon that misdeed and should repent as soon as possible. May Allah forgive the sins of those who repent. 
Today, there is a consensus among all the medicine scientists about the harms of alcohol on human health. The statistics and the attempts of prohibition by some states are the most revealing proofs of the economical, social and moral harms of alcoholic drinks.   
In order to make the issue to be more thoroughly understood within the basic Islamic perspective, we deem it suitable to present some rules and explanations listed as below:  
1. The fatwas (religious advisories) about the matter given by mujtahids of Islamic law such as Imam Azam does not mean that some of the alcoholic beverages are not illicit. The fatwas of those scholars of Islamic law, is either misunderstood or their fatwas are for those drinks which do not include alcohol. To interpret those fatwas as alcoholic drinks are halal to drink is against the standpoint of the community, against the spirit of Islam and against the Shari'a. If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is also prohibited. Those who say you may drink are mistaken.     
2. Every drink that gives you drunkenness is illicit. However, there is a difference between wine which the Qur'an says haram and the other alcoholic drinks. Wine itself alone has been considered unclean. If wine was spilled on a dress, it would make that dress dirty and leave stain and it should be cleaned. The other alcoholic drinks apart from being illicit are not unclean as wine. For instance, drinking cologne is haram; however when using it for cleaning ourselves there is nothing wrong with it.
3. Alcoholic drinks such as beer and raki are illicit according to Imam Abu Hanifa, too. What Abu Hanifa says not illicit are the unfermented juices made of fruits and grains such as barley, wheat and honey. They do not have any intoxicating effect. However, since the intoxicating effect of beer and raki is obviously known, it is undoubtedly illicit according to Abu Hanifa. 
It would not be permissible to rename drinks as beer and raki and declare them halal while they are illicit to drink. Furthermore Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) foretold that his community would drink alcoholic drinks called with different names and warned them to avoid doing so.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says: Verily and undoubtedly, there will appear people among my followers who will drink alcohol and call it by another name and women will sing and play stringed instruments above their heads. May Allah sink them under earth! And turn them into pigs and monkeys. (Nasai, Ashriba 41; Ibn Majah, Fitan, 22)
In another hadith, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says: “From among my followers, there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks, and the use of musical instruments as lawful.  And (from them), there will be some who will stay near the side of a mountain, and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and Allah will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhari, Ashriba, 6; Abu Dawud, Libas, 6)

Those hadiths deliver a clear and certain judgment that is rendered for those who stick to those names and shapes of what Allah has prohibited and accepting as halal by twisting the meaning without observing the truth and the real purpose behind it. In addition, those hadiths blame those who turn to cheating by having illegal sexual intercourse (committing adultery) under the name of marriage, drinking alcoholic drinks by calling them nabiz, etc., wearing silk under the name of garment. If changing the names and shapes would provide the change of rules and truths, the faith would be deteriorated, the Shari'a would be altered and Islam would collapse. Hadith is the proof against those things which are inexorably rendered haram; they will remain so even though their names are changed. It is because the judgments depend on the meaning and to the purpose of the proceedings not on the external appearance of them. Those hadiths indicate us that those who turn to cheating in order to render what Allah ordered Haram (illicit) as Halal (lawful) will be subjected to a great deal of harsh torment. And that the judgments depend on the causes, that the cause of alcohol that makes it haram is the intoxicating effect and that when that effect is eminent, changing the name of it will not keep it out of the judgment and that it will be considered an alcoholic drink and will be rendered haram (illicit). (Ibn Hajar, Fathu’l –Bari, Beirut, 2000, X, 56)

4. According to the Islamic belief and the belief of Ahl Sunnah, nobody is innocent but the Prophets. Even the greatest companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the greatest mujtahids of Islamic law might make mistakes in their jurisprudence. In Islam, the principle: “There are two rewards for a mujtahid whose jurisprudence is correct;, and there is one reward  for a mujtahid whose jurisprudence is wrong. ”  shows that mujtahids might make mistakes too. About a subject with different jurisprudence, the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars' community will be accepted as principal, and the fatwa is released according to that opinion.

The path where the ummah (faithful community) should walk is the path of the majority of Islamic scholars’ community, which is the largest path of Islam. 

Those who leave the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars' community aside and try to manipulate people through marginal fatwas by knowingly or unknowingly are conducting people away from Allah's consent.
As a matter of fact, according to what is reported from Abdullah B. Umar, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “My ummah (faithful community) will never come together and agree on depravity. Never depart from the community because Allah's protecting hand is on the community.” Haythami emphasized that that hadith reported by Tabarani was sound. (Majmau’z-Zawaid, 5/218)
As it can be seen, that hadith clearly tells people to follow the path of majority of the Islamic scholars' community because when it says the ummah and community it means the majority of the Islamic scholars' community (Multitude of Ulama). Those who are not Ulama do not have the competence and authorization to say wrong or right about a subject. It indicates that accepting the jurisprudence which is against the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars' community, even if they belong to Imam Azam or Imam Nahai or Imam Shafii, is against the order of that hadith. Besides, the fatwas of those Islamic scholars do not indicate that alcohol is halal (lawful). There is a case which originates from the misunderstanding and the misinterpreting of those fatwas. We have already explained what Imam Azam's fatwa means before.
Abdullah B. Umar narrates: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Every drink that gives drunkenness is wine, and every drink that gives drunkenness is illicit (haram).” (Muslim, Ashriba,73,74; Abu Dawud, Ashriba,5; Tirmidhi, Ashriba,1; Ibn Majah, Ashriba,9; Ahmad b. Hanbal, 2/16,29)
According to another narration: “Every drink that gives you drunkenness is wine, and every wine is illicit. (Haram)” (Muslim, Ashriba, 75)
It is a mutawatir hadith reported by the twenty six companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  It is also the opinion of the canonical community. (W. Zuhayli, Takhriju Ahadithi Tuhfati’l-fuqaha, 3/449) Wine (Hamr) is not only the name of what is made of grapes but it is the name of every alcoholic drink that gives drunkenness. It is because the word Hamr (wine) means the one that covers the mind (consciousness) and it has all the content that makes one drunk.

According to what Bukhari reports from Aisha, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:”Any drink that gives drunkenness (has the properties of giving) is illicit (Haram).”(Bukhari, Wudu,71; Ashriba,4)
According to a narration reported from Jabir, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:” If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is also prohibited”(Abu Dawud, Ashriba,5; Tirmidhi, Ashriba,3; Nasai, Ashriba,35; Ibn Majah, Ashriba, 10; Darimi, Ashriba, 8; Ahmad b. Hanbal, 3/91).  Ibn Hajar emphasied that the hadith was sound. (at-Talhisu’l-Khabir, 359-360)
About the matter, the following hadith is also significant: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “if a faraq of anything causes intoxication, a handful of it is also forbidden. (Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 3; Abu Dawud, 5; Musnad, 6/71, 72, 13) “Faraq” is an old measurement unit which is a container that is equal to approximately 43,5 kg.
As Ibn Munzir states whether it is hamr/wine or not , If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is also haram. (Awnu’l-Mabud, 8/181-Shamila)
According to hadith scholars (Avnu’l-Mabud ibid), the soundest hadith regarding the issue is the one reported by Nasai, from Sad b. Abi Wakqqas: ”the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), forbad the small amount of a substance that intoxicated when taken in large amounts.” (Nasai, Ashriba, 35)
As it is seen, the soundest hadith also emphasized the same truth about the matter.
5. Every interpreter of Islamic law took the hadith as it would mean in his own time and place where he lived. However, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), used it in another meaning. He would stick to the general meaning of the matter more than the lexical meaning of the word thinking that it was a rule to take the lexical meaning.
As a matter of fact, when some scholars heard the narrations that permitted drinking nabiz (wine), they thought it meant an intoxicating drink that they knew in their time and place. However, in many hadiths, the meaning of that word is explained clearly. According to them “nabiz” meant fruit juice in which dates, dried raisins, etc are added in order to sweeten and that is drunk before it forms foams and becomes intoxicant.

Similarly, some scholars took meaning of the word hamr as it was present in their dictionary; they thought it was “grape juice that became intoxicant by forming foams”. However, in many sound hadith, it is explained that meaning of the word hamr includes every drink that intoxicates. (Dört Risâle, Trnsl. Hayreddin Karaman, İz Yayıncılık, İstanbul, 2000)  
6. Even though there is a misunderstanding that some scholars like Abu Hanifa did not lay it as a condition for alcoholic drinks other than wine to be intoxicating to be haram, the community of scholars rejected that judgment.

On the other hand, there is a big possibility that those scholars were not aware of those hadiths which had not been compiled yet at those times.

Hanafi sect's famous hadith scholar Imam Tahawi stated that the hadiths about the matter were sound but they were interpreted in a different way. (Ibn Hajar, Fathu’l-Bari, the explanation of the hadith in question)  
In addition, we should not forget the fact that the Imams of Four sects also said:“If you see a hadith which contradicts a judgment that I gave, smash my words on the wall and act in accordance with the hadith.”

Since we have all those true hadiths in our hands now and it is obvious that the common opinion of the majority of the Hanafi scholars and especially Imam Muhammad (pbuh) about this matter, of course, a god-fearing person would not follow any path but the common path of the community of the scholars and hadiths and would never suggest anyone anything against that opinion.

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