Just as the Messenger was commanded to proclaim the worship of Allah in stages, so were many of the evil habits of the Arabs eliminated by degrees. The Muslims were very gradually and systematically weaned away from all that was wrongful, unjust, unseemly, or unrefined. The Arabs were very fond of drinking, so the first verses that mention alcohol say that from palm trees man acquires goodly provision and also alcohol. The provision is described as goodly, while alcohol is left without comment. The Muslims paid no attention to this silence concerning the epithet of drink, and continued to drink alcohol until they immigrated to Medina. Allah in His wisdom was teaching them the right thing at the right moment and not overtaxing them with side issues when they were being persecuted and tortured by the Meccans for the sake of their religion.
When they had settled in Medina and could pray in freedom and without fear, they had the time and peace to study the precepts of their religion, the next verses concerning drink revealed that there was both good and bad in drink and gambling, but that the harm and sin in them was greater than the benefit. People began to think that, if there was more sin in them than benefit, it would be better to keep away from them as much as possible. Their minds were being prepared to accept that such an activity was incompatible with spiritual awareness. Sometime later these holy verses were revealed:
You who believe, do not approach prayers in your drink,
so that you are not aware of what you are saying.
The Messenger delegated someone to walk through the streets of Medina proclaiming that those intoxicated should not attend prayers.
The Muslims had become devoted to prayer and study of the Holy Koran, and as the obligatory prayers were five times a day, the person who prayed had no time to drink during the day. Many forsook drink altogether in order to be able to gain the greater pleasure of prayer during the day and night for, like the Messenger, most of the early Muslims spent long hours in prayer at night. By the time the verses below were sent down, it was quite natural and relatively easy for the Muslims to give up drink. The holy verses say:
O you who believe!
Alcohol, gambling, idols set-up,
and arrows for divination are filth of the devil's doing,
so avoid them perchance you succeed.
For the devil seeks to cast enmity and loathing
between you in gambling and alcohol
and to divert you from remembering Allah and from prayers.
So will you be finished with them? (5:90,91)