Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks
Category: Bahá’í
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"It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence" - "Kitab-i-Aqdas". Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks is compiled by the Research Department of Universal House of Justice. Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi.

Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks


Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi

© Bahá’í International Community

Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks

Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:

— 1 —

It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence; it behoveth him to engage in that which is worthy of man, not in the act of every heedless doubter.

“Kitáb-i-Aqdas” — provisional translation from the Arabic

— 2 —

O Son of Dust!

Turn not away thine eyes from the matchless wine of the immortal Beloved, and open them not to foul and mortal dregs. Take from the hands of the divine Cupbearer the chalice of immortal life, that all wisdom may be thine, and that thou mayest hearken unto the mystic voice calling from the realm of the invisible. Cry aloud, ye that are of low aim! Wherefore have ye turned away from My holy and immortal wine unto evanescent water?

“The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh”, Persian #62, p. 43

— 3 —

Fear ye God, O people of the earth, and think not that the wine We have mentioned in Our Tablet is the wine which men drink, and which causeth their intelligence to pass away, their human nature to be perverted, their light to be changed, and their purity to be soiled. Our intention is indeed that wine which intensifieth man’s love for God, for His Chosen Ones and for His loved ones, and igniteth in the hearts the fire of God and love for Him, and glorification and praise of Him. So potent is this wine that a drop thereof will attract him who drinketh it to the court of His sanctity and nearness, and will enable him to attain the presence of God, the King, the Glorious, the Most Beauteous. It is a wine that blotteth out from the hearts of the true lovers all suggestions of limitation, establisheth the truth of the signs of His oneness and divine unity, and leadeth them to the Tabernacle of the Well-Beloved, in the presence of God, the Sovereign Lord, the Self-Subsisting, the All-Forgiving, the All-Generous. We meant by this Wine, the River of God, and His favour, the fountain of His living waters, and the Mystic Wine and its divine grace, even as it was revealed in the Qur’án, if ye are of those who understand. He said, and how true is His utterance: “A wine delectable to those who drink it.” And He had no purpose in this but the wine We have mentioned to you, O people of certitude!

Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.

Bahá’u’lláh, from a Tablet — translated from the Arabic

— 4 —

The Mystic Wine of the one true God hath a different intoxication and imparteth another exhilaration. The one diminisheth the intelligence of man, the other increaseth it. The one leadeth to perdition, the other bestoweth life.

Bahá’u’lláh, from a Tablet — translated from the Persian

— 5 —

Drink ye, O handmaidens of God, the Mystic Wine from the cup of My words. Cast away, then, from you that which your minds abhor, for it hath been forbidden unto you in His Tablets and His Scriptures. Beware lest ye barter away the River that is life indeed for that which the souls of the pure-hearted detest. Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman. Thus hath the sun of My commandment shone forth above the horizon of My utterance, that the handmaidens who believe in Me may be illumined.

Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in “The Advent of Divine Justice”, p. 33

Extracts From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

— 6 —

The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in “The Advent of Divine Justice”, p. 33

— 7 —

Regarding the use of liquor: According to the text of the Book of Aqdas, both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for this prohibition is that alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body. If alcohol were beneficial, it would have been brought into the world by the divine creation and not by the effort of man. Whatever is beneficial for man existeth in creation. Now it hath been proved and is established medically and scientifically that liquor is harmful.

As to the meaning of that which is written in the Tablets: “I have chosen for thee whatsoever is in the heaven and the earth”, this signifieth those things which are in accordance with the divine purpose and not the things which are harmful. For instance, one of the existing things is poison. Can we say that poison must be used as it hath been created by God? Nevertheless, intoxicating liquor, if prescribed by a physician for the patient and if its use is absolutely necessary, then it is permissible.

In brief, I hope that thou mayest become inebriated with the wine of the love of God, find eternal bliss and receive inexhaustible joy and happiness. All wine hath depression as an after-effect, except the wine of the Love of God.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet — translated from the Persian

— 8 —

Intellect and the faculty of comprehension are God’s gifts whereby man is distinguished from other animals. Will a wise man want to lose this Light in the darkness of intoxication? No, by God! This will not satisfy him! He will, rather, do that which will develop his powers of intelligence and understanding, and not increase his negligence, heedlessness and decline. This is an explicit text in the perspicuous Book, wherein God hath set forth every goodly virtue, and exposed every reprehensible act.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet — translated from the Arabic

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

— 9 —

With regard to your first question on alcohol and drinking, Bahá’u’lláh, fully aware of the great misery that it brings about, prohibits it as He expressly states that everything that takes away the mind, or in other words makes one drunk, is forbidden….

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 15 February 1926 to an individual believer

— 10 —

The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual meaning for in the “Book of Aqdas” we are definitely forbidden to take not only wine, but everything that deranges the mind. In poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation than the ordinary intoxicating liquid. We see it thus used by the Persian poets such as Sa‘dí and ‘Umar Khayyám and Ḥáfiẓ to mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his spiritual desires. It is very necessary to tell the children what this wine means so that they may not confuse it with the ordinary wine.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 4 November 1926 to an individual believer

— 11 —

With regard to the question you have raised in connection with the sale of alcoholic liquors by the friends: he wishes me to inform you that dealings with such liquors, in any form, are highly discouraged in the Cause. The believers should, therefore, consider it their spiritual obligation to refrain from undertaking any business enterprise that would involve them in the traffic of alcoholic drinks.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 6 November 1935 to a Local Spiritual Assembly

— 12 —

Concerning the third question (sale of alcoholic drinks at Bahá’í-owned premises and restaurants), the beloved Guardian has asked me to point out that this practice is highly improper and reprehensible and would be tantamount to encouraging acts that are forbidden in the Faith. It is indeed the conscientious duty of every true Bahá’í to abandon such practices. However, should a Bahá’í owner rent his property without himself taking any part whatever in the business, or giving aid to the tenant, then he would incur no responsibility. Nevertheless, the landlord should resort to every possible means to rid his premises of the defilement of this degrading business; how far more injurious if he himself were engaged in such repugnant affairs.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 6 November 1935 to a National Spiritual Assembly translated from the Persian

— 13 —

Concerning your question with regard to the use of alcohol for rubbing: the believers can make any use of alcohol for any such treatments, provided they do not drink it, unless, of course, they are compelled to do so, under the advice of a competent and conscientious physician, who may have to prescribe it for the cure of some special ailment.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 25 July 1938 to an individual believer

— 14 —

With reference to your question whether those foods which have been favoured with alcoholic liquors such as brandy, rum, etc. should be classified under the same category as the intoxicating drinks, and consequently be avoided by the believers, the Guardian wishes all the friends to know that such foods, or beverages, are strictly prohibited.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 9 January 1939 to an individual believer

— 15 —

The reason Bahá’u’lláh forbade drinking alcoholic beverages is because it is bad for the health, more particularly for the mind. Of course you can point this out to Mr…. and Mr…. and you can also pray that they will themselves feel the urge to give it up; but these are habits each individual should seek to surmount for his own good.

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