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alcohol ban

forbiddance of alcohol (GB)
prohibition of alcohol (GB)

In Islam, in addition to adultery, fornication, defamation, serious theft and murder, alcohol consumption is a capital crime and this may even apply to the use of drugs that have been dissolved in alcohol substances. Among the 20 greatest sins in Islam is the enjoyment of alcohol in thirteenth place. The ban on devout Muslims is inextricably linked to Mohammed (570-632), the founder of Islam. Wine and alcoholic beverages were banished forever from almost all countries that adopted the new religion. Drinking wine (schurb al-chamr) is one of the Hadd punishments in Islamic criminal law. These are penalties that are used to protect property, public security and public morals and are considered “God's legal rights”. Depending on the school of law, alcohol consumption can be punished with 40 to 80 lashes or, as in Iran, in the event of recurrence even death.

Alcohol ban - Hafis in front of the tavern (A. Feuerbach) - Hafis / Goethe monument in Weimar with Ghasel

However, the ban only became established in the course of time, because in the early Islamic epoch wine was valued in certain Arab countries. Until the 19th century, the Persian city of Shiraz was considered the center of the highest wine culture and poet like the famous Hafiz (1324-1388) sang about the wine. The right picture shows one of the poems (Ghazel) by Hafis on the Goethe -Hafis monument in Weimar. The trade in wine was temporarily permitted by individual caliphs to Jews and Christians (not Muslims) because this brought tax revenue. The ban was then reinforced by the Islamic fundamentalism that emerged in the 20th century. After Ayatollah Khomeini's followers seized power in Iran in 1979 all the alcohol that had previously been offered to the public in shops was emptied onto the streets in Tehran.

Origin of the alcohol ban in Islam

But what is the reason for the ban and how is this justified in the Koran, which the legal scholars of Islam rely on? The Koran expressly names the vines as God's creation, as it says in Sura 16, Verse 11: “It is he who lets water come down from the clouds. He lets the grain grow, and the olive trees, date palms and vines ” . The Islamic paradise is portrayed as a garden with lots of fruit and watered by fountains and clear streams. The faithful entered into it rest on divans and are cared for by beautiful black-eyed huris (dazzling whites), who fully support them musk sealed hoses serve a wine flavored with ginger mixed with the water from the Tasnim spring. In Surah 47, verse 16, the believers are promised “streams of water, milk, wine, and honey” . Quran commentators, however, emphasize that the wine of paradise will not be intoxicating.

Islam also discusses what the prophet meant by the ban on alcohol and whether there are any exceptions. Mohammed himself was not an absolute abstainer, but is said to have enjoyed Nabidh, a wine-like drink made from dates. After all, Mohammed grew up in a culture where wine and other alcoholic beverages made from wheat, barley, millet and honey have been valued as a gift from ancient times. Wine taverns were gladly visited and indulged in the game of luck. Wine has always been part of everyday life here, what in the Bible is often occupied. Aisha (Ayesha), Mohammed's favorite woman , told of the Prophet's drinking habits: “We used to prepare nabidh (date wine) by pouring a handful of dates or raisins into a tube and pouring water on them. That was what he enjoyed in the evening when we prepared it in the morning or in the morning when we did it in the evening ” .

Different interpretations

So wasn't the alcohol ban so strict? Maybe it was just wine made from grapes (but not wine made from dates) or maybe just the excessive consumption of alcohol, that is intoxication (Intoxication), forbidden? This was justified by liberal representatives with the following Koranic verse: "Those who hold on to faith and do good should not be blamed for food that they may have enjoyed as long as they believe in Allah and do good". His widow Aisha also saw this (after Muhammad's death): "You can drink but not get drunk". Most Islamic legal scholars, however, consider these discussions to be subtle and hair-splitting and believe that all drinks that can intoxicate are in principle forbidden for a Muslim and therefore different interpretations are not possible.

The Koran (Arabic Kur-ân), so to speak Bible of Islam, is of the highest poetry and wisdom. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) recognized this and wrote: "The Koran attracts us again and again, fills us with admiration and finally compels us to worship" . This work, written in Arabic in rhyming prose, was written around 610 to 632 and represents the revelations given to the Prophet by Allah and binding for all believers (Muslims). Originally, the Koran was written without any intention to collect written records, but only for memory and repetition and was compared annually by Mohammed and the angel Gabriel with the original text in heaven. It has gradually emerged over the course of 23 years and consists of 114 chapters, the suras (Sura = the majesty overwhelming people) with a total of 6666 verses.

The suras were only collected after Muhammad's death on behalf of Abu Bekr (father of Aisha and later the first caliph). Four suras deal with wine (Arabic Khamr). In sura 16 "Al-Nahl" (The Bees) in verse 68 it is quite positive: "And from the fruit of the palm trees and the grapes you get intoxicating drinks and also good food" . Sura two "Al-Bakarah" (The Cow) gives the warning advice in verse 220: "They will also ask you about wine and play (meaning the arrow game Meisar, which was about a camel). Tell them that there is a risk of sin in both, but also benefit for people; however, the disadvantage outweighs the benefits ” . And likewise, the sura warns four "Al-Nisa" (The women) in verse 44 as follows: "O believers, do not pray while drunk, but only until you know what you are saying again".

These statements in the two suras are not yet understood by Islamic legal scholars as a complete ban on wine. The passage in the Quran on which the alcohol or wine ban is based was written after an incident in Medina. After a meal and a drink, one of Muhammad's followers from Mecca began to use the alcohol to mock verses about the people of Medina, whereupon a Medina supporter punched a bone over his skull (which was not dead, but had a gaping head wound). Mohammed asked Allah how he could keep order among his disciples. Allah's answer can be found in verse 92 of the fifth sura "Al-Maida" (The Table).

This is also significant because, according to research, this sura was written in terms of time as one of the last, if not the last, and can therefore be regarded as "final": O believers, the wine, the game, the pictures and throwing it off (a popular game of chance) is despicable and a work of Satan. Avoid them so that you are well. Satan only wants to throw enmity and hatred between you through wine and play and turn you away from the thought of Allah and from prayer. So don't you want to let it go? Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and be on your guard. The word "forbidden" (Arabic Haram) does not appear here either, but over time Islam has generally accepted that wine and everything intoxicating (including drugs) are prohibited.

Penalties for alcohol consumption

This response prompted Mohammed to order all the wine to be poured onto the streets in Medina. But it was certainly not only the dispute that was decisive, it was probably also related to the effects that heavy wine had on the people of the desert with their innate heated temperament. Mohammed decreed the absolute ban on wine and punished 40 lashes for the violation. A successor even increased the sentence to 80, which, depending on the intensity, can lead to death. However, this punishment was rarely applied. In the early days of Islam, however, many questions remained, not only regarding alcohol consumption, which could not always be clearly interpreted from the Koran. After Muhammad's death, therefore, two writings were created which, with the Koran, are considered to be documents of faith and law.

This is firstly the hadith (narrative) with messages about the sayings and deeds of Muhammad, and secondly the sunna (habit) with reports on exemplary behavior of Muhammad. It tells that the angel Gabriel Mohammed offered two drinking vessels during his journey to heaven, one containing milk and the other alcohol. Mohammed chose the milk and Gabriel said: "If you had taken the alcohol, your church would have gone astray". According to a saying by Mohammed, on the day of the resurrection, alcohol drinkers are counted among the unbelievers. The Iranian theologian Al-Ghazali (1059-1111) emphasizes that nobody should marry his daughter to a wine drinker and thus expose God's wrath to the Almighty.

Alcohol ban in Islam today

A strict alcohol ban has never really prevailed in the Islamic world. Especially in the Ottoman Empire (1299 to 1922), phases with a rigorous interpretation and pragmatic perspective changed. The writer Ahmed Rasim (1826-1897) writes that the urban youth of Istanbul only followed the alcohol ban in the months of Ramadan and Muharram. One often differentiated between the "pleasure drinker" and the "habitual drinker" and dealt with the "right measure", ie the acceptable daily amount. Only in a few Islamic countries is there a strict ban, so that alcoholic beverages can only be obtained illegally. These are Iran, Kuwait, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. On the other hand, wine is among others in Egypt. Algeria. Jordan, the Lebanon. Morocco. Tunisia and in the Turkey produces and consumes. However, a ban on alcohol is not only limited to Islam, it has always existed in Western culture. The best known example is the one valid from 1920 to 1933 prohibition in the United States,

Alcohol ban - Prohibition USA 1920-1933 - Destruction of beer kegs and slogan

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