The Rule of Reason and Its Violation
Compared to a few decades ago, it is now more widely known among contemporary Muslims that the protection of human intelligence and reason (hifz al-ʿaql) is one of the primary aims and objectives of the Islamic Law (maqasid al-shariʿah).
The aforementioned aim and objective is inferred, among others, from the fact that one of the five (some say, six) utmost severe punishments enunciated by the said law—what is termed hadd (plural: hudud)—is against the crime of consuming liquor.
As far as Muslims are concerned, that any intoxicating element—liquor included—is prohibited is considered to be among those matters which are necessarily known in their religion (maʿlum min al-din bi al-darurah).
To believe and act otherwise—especially if it is made known to the public—will only render one’s faith suspect, at best.
It is indeed a widely accepted principle in Islam that one who is not possessed of reason is not entitled to the religion (la dina li man la ʿaqla lahu).
Such is clearly reflected in the element of rationality (ʿaqil) and discernment (mumayyiz) being regarded as a sine-qua-non of one’s being held responsible and accountable in this religion.
Hence, anything leading to, or ending up, in the violation of the above principle—including the consumption of any intoxicating materials—is to be prevented and fought against.
That much, in my estimation, is clear and, as much as the discourse among Muslims concerning liquor is concerned, has almost become a cliché.
Needless to say, the foregoing discourse is still valid and useful, particularly to the forgetful and negligent, as well as the new generations, among Muslims.
Yet, the discourse could also be brought to a slightly higher level of sophistication.
And this has to do with us, first, identifying what really constitutes intoxication—more in terms of traits and behavior than in chemical terms—and, second, relating it to the various phenomena and events in the personal and societal contexts.
As the first step, let us pose the question: “what really differentiates a normally sober or rational person from one who is drunken?”
To answer the question requires that we identify elements or constituents which define reason.
If there indeed exist such elements which can be known, then their privation almost automatically indicates the absence of reason.
In that regard, one may wonder whether the widely held three fundamental laws of reason(ing)—namely: the law of identity, the law of the excluded middle, and the law of non-contradiction—are qualified to be considered to be such elements.
Or worded somewhat differently, can it be accepted that one who is in a state of intoxication shall violate any, or all, of such laws?
Next comes another question: Can one commit such violation without consuming any intoxicating material?
That is to say, can one be deemed intoxicated through non-conventional—or better still, non-material—means?
Can a person, whether representing his or her own self, other parties, or an organization, and without consuming any liquor or intoxicating substances, utter words, issue statements, declare policies, or commit acts which in many respects resemble those coming from an intoxicated guy?
By so doing, could he or she not contravene any, or all, of the aforesaid laws of reason?
If present-day Muslims are serious about realizing the protection of human intelligence and reason as a primary aim and objective of the Islamic Law, and if the aforementioned violation can happen, or does occur, what are they going to do about it then?