Answered by Ustadha Umm Ihsan
Question: In the past I have drunk alcohol. Would my prayers be accepted? I have heard that alcohol stays in the blood for 40 days, will I have to make up these prayers? Is it the same principle for marijuana?
Answer: Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahimi
I apologize for the delay in responding.
There are a few narrations similar to what you have mentioned. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever drinks wine, his prayer is not accepted from him for 40 days. If he repents, Allah forgives him…” [Tirmidhi]
Drinking wine or other intoxicants is a major sin. In order for one to eradicate the sin, one engages in a sincere repentance. Legally speaking, one does not have to make up the prayers performed if the prayers were valid. “Not accepted” in the hadith means that the prayers are not accepted in terms of reward. As such, one can make up these prayers as part of the remorse felt for committing such a sin, though it is not an obligation.
Prohibition of Drinking Intoxicants & Using Drugs
Drinking wine is a major sin, even if one consumes only a drop. [Dhahabi, Kitab al-Kaba’ir] This ruling is established by scholarly consensus. Allah says in the Quran:
“O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?” [The Table: 90-91]
“They will ask you about wine and gambling. Say: There is great sin therein.” [Baqara: 219]
Scholars determine that the legal reason for the prohibition of drinking wine is because it is a drink that intoxicates. Thus, any drink that results in intoxication is also forbidden to consume, like many modern-day alcoholic beverages. [al-Asadi, al-Mujiz]
Smoking marijuana is also prohibited “…because it corrupts the mind and diverts one from remembering Allah and the prayer…” [al-Nakhlawi, al-Hadhr wa al-Ibaha]
Explanation of the Hadith
The prayer is the best form of worship performed by the body. Therefore, if it is not accepted, then what is lesser than this in worship is also intended. The reason 40 days were specified is because wine is said to stay in the body, the veins, and the nerves for this amount of time. [al-Manawi, Fayd al-Qadir]
Acceptance of Prayers
There is a distinction scholars like to make between acceptance in terms of validity and acceptance in terms of reward. Acceptance in terms of validity means that one performed all of the prayer’s conditions, pillars, and necessary actions outlined by the jurists. Consequently, the prayer is valid and it does not need to be made up. Acceptance in terms of reward means that one may have performed the prayer in the correct manner but it is dependent upon Allah’s generosity if its performance is rewarded.
The aforementioned hadith indicates that one who drinks intoxicants will not receive the reward for the prayers performed for 40 days unless one repents. It does not mean that the prayers are invalid and need to be made up because they are missing a condition of validity. [ibn al-Najar, al-Kawkab al-Munir] Rather, it demonstrates the beauty of Islam because even if one wronged themselves, there is still hope for forgiveness and making a new beginning.
Allah says in the Quran, “Say: Oh my slaves who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins.” [Throngs: 53]
Engage in Repentance
If one commits a major sin, a sincere repentance is the only thing that can absolve one from it. A sincere repentance entails four conditions:
a. One leaves the sin,
b. One feels remorse for the action committed,
c. One resolves to not return to it, and
d. One pays back or returns what one owes if the sin involves the rights of others.
[Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]
No one should ever despair Allah’s mercy if they’ve truly repented. He is the only One who can forgive us for the wrong we willingly commit. He is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Allah says in the All-Mightly Quran:
“And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – Who forgives sins save Allah only? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did.” [Ali Imran: 135]
“Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him.” [Hud: 3]
“O you who believe! Turn in sincere repentance to Allah.” [The Forbidding: 8]
Please read the following:
Barak Allah fikum
Ustadha Umm Ihsan is a female student of Islamic knowledge from the US. She studies with leading Hanafi scholars from Syria and elsewhere.