Divine Intoxication: Is It OK to Have a Cocktail While Reading the Quran, Asks Roger Scruton
Scruton, Roger, New Statesman (1996)
Often, at the end of a summer's day, I turn to the Quran, not to hide, like the Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb, in its shadow, but to ponder its dazzling certainties and to wonder what on earth could have produced them--to which the good Muslim will reply, "Nothing on earth".
And then the question arises: What am I to drink with this book, which tells me that I should not drink wine? Is it blasphemous to settle down with a cocktail, as a non-Muslim? Does the prohibition against imbibing intoxicants (khamr) cover my cocktails, too? Is drinking with the Quran in hand an offence comparable to stamping round a mosque with your boots on, or publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad holding a bomb?
Now that the United Nations Human Rights Council has identified Islamophobia as a thought-crime, it may be dangerous even to ask such questions.
I recall the story of an Irish priest who was asked whether it was a sin to smoke while praying. After a moment's thought, he replied to his questioner, "Well, to be sure, it is not a sin to pray while smoking."
So there's my response. You may argue that it is blasphemy to drink while reading the Quran; but it cannot be blasphemy to read the Quran while drinking.
My favourite sunset combination is the Surah of the Sun, which contains all of religion in one concentrated burst of wonder and awe, and a stiff margarita, made with crushed ice, freshly squeezed lime and a dash of soda. …