Brian’s Story – a profoundly moving documentary film about a Cambridge educated journalist who, after a successful career, found himself struggling with homelessness and depression on the streets of London. BBC Documentaries, uploaded 2015.
2:219 THEY WILL ASK thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say. “In both there is great evil as well as some benefit for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring.”
5:90 O YOU who have attained to faith! Intoxicants, and games of chance, and idolatrous practices, and the divining of the future are but loathsome evil of Satan’s doing: shun it, then, so that you might attain to a happy state! By means of intoxicants and games of chance Satan seeks only to sow enmity and hatred among you, and to turn you away from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Will you not, then, desist?
[According to all the lexicographers, the word khamr (derived from the verb khamara, “he concealed” or “obscured”) denotes every substance the use of which obscures the intellect, i.e., intoxicates. Hence, the prohibition of intoxicants laid down in this verse comprises not merely alcoholic drinks, but also drugs which have a similar effect. The only exception from this total prohibition arises in cases of “dire necessity”: that is to say, in cases where illness or a bodily accident makes the administration of intoxicating drugs or of alcohol imperative and unavoidable. – as regards the expression “idolatrous practices” (ansab, lit., “idolatrous altars”), see verse 2:10. This term has, perhaps, been used here metaphorically, and is meant to circumscribe all practices of an idolatrous nature – like saint-worship, the attribution of “magic” properties to certain inanimate objects, the observance of all manner of superstitious taboos, and so forth. For an explanation of the expression “divining the future”, see verse 5:3.]
2:10 In their hearts is disease, and so God lets their disease increase; and grievous suffering awaits them because of their persistent lying.
[I.e., before God and man – and to themselves. It is generally assumed that the people to whom this passage alludes in the first instance are the hypocrites of Medina who, during the early years of the Hijrah, outwardly professed their adherence to Islam, while remaining inwardly unconvinced of the real truth of Muhammad’s message. However, as is always the case with Quranic allusions to contemporary or historical events, the above and the following verses have a general, timeless import inasmuch as they refer to all people who are prone to deceive themselves in order to evade a real spiritual commitment.
5:3 And [you are forbidden] to seek to learn through divination what the future may hold in store for you: this is sinful conduct.
[Lit., “to aim at divining [the future] by means of arrows”. This is a reference to the divining-arrows without a point and without feathers used by the pre-Islamic Arabs to find out what the future might hold in store for them. As is usual with such historical allusions in the Quran, this one, too, is used metonymically: it implies a prohibition of all manner of attempts at divining or foretelling the future.]
2:256 THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the way of error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.
[The term din denotes both the contents of and the compliance with a morally binding law; consequently, it signifies “religion” in the widest sense of this term, extending over all that pertains to its doctrinal contents and their practical implications, as well as to man’s attitude towards the object of his worship, thus comprising also the concept of “faith”. The rendering of din as “religion”, “faith”, “religious law” or ” moral law” depends on the context in which this term is used. On the strength of the above categorical prohibition of coercion (ikrah) in anything that pertains to faith or religion, all Islamic jurists (fuqaha), without any exception, hold that forcible conversion is under all circumstances null and void, and that any attempt at coercion to accept the faith of Islam is a grievous sin: a verdict which disposes of the widespread fallacy that the Quran teaches “conversion or the sword” – an act which would remove a human beings ‘God given right’ to free will.]
18:29 And say: “The truth has now come from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, reject it.”
109:6 Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine!”