Is it true that we cannot perform prayers for 40 days after drinking alcohol?

The Details of the Question
Is it true that we cannot perform prayers for 40 days after drinking alcohol?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

One cannot perform the prayers while drunken. However, there is no verse in the Qur'an stateing that the person who drinks alcohol cannot perform prayers for forty days. However, in some hadiths (sayings of the Prophet), there are expressions stating that the believers who drink alcohol or perpetrate other sins will have fewer rewards for worships such as obligatory prayers. Our Prophet encouraged people to be more alert by making such warnings so that they would avoid grave sins like alcohol. (Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 1; Ibn Maja, Ashriba, 9; Nasai, Ashriba, 45,49)

Ibadah (worship) has several aspects:

- The slave (of Allah; human) becomes qualified for Paradise through worship. In other words, out of copper, s/he becomes silver and gold.

- S/he fulfills his/her obligations toward Allah.

- Goodness brings about goodness and a circle of goodness forms, which encourages the love for worship and obedience in humans; and it goes on like that.

While there are narrations stating that the reward of the worships for those who drink alcohol and commit sins will be reduced; there is no clear reliable source (from the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet) stateing that s/he must compensate for the prayers that s/he performed while drunken; there is no verse invalidated by another verse, or a weak narration corroborating that.

- A person improves his health by doing exercise; similarly, one acquires love for worship through prayers. However, when s/he performs prayer, a person who drank alcohol is not equal to the person who does not ever drink alcohol; the former lacks in pleasure s/he takes from his/her prayer. Therefore, there is no religious basis for saying “the person who drank alcohol cannot perform the obligatory prayers for forty days.”; yet, we should not forget the effect of drinking alcohol mentioned above.

A similitude for that is as follows: If a person lays a foundation for a building, puts up a wall but if he does not build the roof, the house is unfinished. Similarly, if somebody who drinks alcohol or who earns his/her livelihood through unlawful means, gets ablution and performs the obligatory prayers, then s/he fulfills his/her duty and acquires the reward attached to it, but the roof of the building is still missing. When it is built, Allah's favor will be reflected on him/her.

Besides, it is not appropriate not to perform the obligatory prayers for 40 days because s/he drank alcohol or committed another sin. At most, the reward of the prayers for the person who drinks alcohol will be reduced. On the other hand, the person who drinks alcohol or who commits another sin does not become an unbeliever; s/he becomes sinful. Actually, the Muslim who performs his/her five daily prayers will not commit such grave sins as alcohol.

Performing prayers while still drunken, though, is haram (forbidden). Only after the state of intoxication ends, should s/he perform his/her prayers.

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