Intoxicants

Surah Al-Maeda

 

O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, and Al-Ansâb, and Al¬Azlâm (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitân’s  handiwork. So avoid in order that you may be successful. Shaitân wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allâh and from As-Salât (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain? And obey Allâh and the Messenger, and beware and be God-conscious. Then if you turn away, you should know that it is Our Messenger’s duty to convey (the Message) in the clearest way. (90-92)

Surah An-Nahl

We have sent down the Book to you, only because you may explain to them what they differed about, and (so that it may be) guidance and mercy for a people who believe. (64) Allah sent down water from the heavens and revived the land with it after it was dead. Surely, in that there is a sign for a people who listen. 14 (65) Surely there is a lesson for you in the cattle. We provide you, out of what lies in their bellies between feces and blood, the (drink of) milk, pure and pleasant for those who drink. (66) And from the fruits of date palms and grape vines, you obtain intoxicants, and good provision. 15 Surely, in that there is a sign for a people who understand. (67) Your Lord revealed to the honeybee: “Make homes in the mountains, in the trees and in the structures they raise. (68) Then, eat from all the fruits, and go along the pathways of your Lord made easy for you.” From their bellies comes out a drink of various colors in which there is cure for people. Surely, in that there is a sign for a people who ponder.

Intoxicants

Despite what Islamic and secular orthodoxies imply with their psychedelic conservatism, intoxicants of all kinds have been produced and consumed by humans for at least the last 7,000 years, and few social histories have been written without at least vague reference to hashish, wine, coca or poppies. Even on the eve of revelation, Tai’f, Yemen, and other regions across the Arabian peninsula were reputed for their wine, and the rise of Islam was accompanied not only by the rapid spread of newer intoxicants (coffee), but with the rise of intoxicant cultures across present-day Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Some of these were officially sanctioned under the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, while others would be confined to mystical orders and mavericks, and others further would be vindicated for their scientific and medicinal approaches to intoxicant use.

Ghazal One – Hafiz

“Sāqī : pour for us the cup’s release:
for love, once easy, brought on difficulties.
The loved-one’s ringlets in the Saba wind unloose the musk of heart-blood’s essences. What love has sanctuary when camel-bell
rings out life’s burdens and adversities?
The wine on prayer-rug and wise men’s words reveal in taverns their authorities.
Who safe on land, light-burdened, looks for threat of wave or whirlpool in obscurities?
My art has ended as a name in doubt:
we hear in gatherings but mysteries.
Be never absent from your love, Hāfiz,
but, having found it, leave the world in peace.”

Avicenna – The Canon of Medicine

Pain can be alleviated in three ways: By eliminating the cause of pain. By the use of sedatives such as alcohol/ By the use of analgesics such as opium. But the true way for pain relief is the first one

Rumi – Masnavi

“There are thousands of wines that can take over our minds Don’t think all ecstasies are the same
Jesus was lost in his love for God
His donkey was drunk with barley

Drink from the presence of saints, not from those other jars”

Intoxicants Today

While alcohol is widely produced and consumed in countries across the Muslim world, it is still largely rejected by socially conservative Muslims, as well as being officially banned in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Some have argued that our ability to refer to heterodox, or unorthodox, Islamic interpretations allows us to challenge dominant understandings of intoxicants. This draws on both historical ambivalence and the words or saints, as well as modern legal and ethical research, to build up a picture of ethical intoxicant use that includes alcohol, psychoactive drugs, and marijuana.

Others have argued that the opioid epidemic is proof enough that drugs should remain anathema to Islam. Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have been devastated by heroin production and use, and high rates of illicit use amongst LGBTIQ communities across the globe downplay the spiritual elements of drug use, reducing the role of intoxicants to sensual pleasure and fantasy, rather than divinity.

Michael Muhammad Knight, “Tripping With Allah”, 2013

“As the human race increasingly moves toward the realisation of a global West, some try to present the primary ideological resistance, the opposite magnetic pole, as a global Islam – the claim that regional and cultural variations of Islam must sacrifice their uniqueness and conform to one timeless, universal Islam. Perhaps an Islamic drug movement could stand between these rival globalisations and become a new position in defiance of both.

In the simple act of drinking ayahuasca, I break laws on both sides of my being, my American laws and my sharia laws, but I also affirm myself under those laws – because I can only drink as an American and as a Muslim, and for me to drink means the survival of my American and my Islam”

hafez03