Alcohol and Islam: An Overview

By Michalak, Laurence; Trocki, Karen | Contemporary Drug Problems, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Alcohol and Islam: An Overview


Michalak, Laurence, Trocki, Karen, Contemporary Drug Problems


Alcohol and Islam is a relatively understudied topic, although alcohol abuse is a significant social problem both in Muslim majority countries and among Muslim minorities. Questions of religious identity as they relate to food and drink prescriptions and proscriptions also make alcohol and Islam a worthwhile topic. This article offers a general overview of alcohol and Islam. It briefly introduces alcohol and Islam in history; examines the main Islamic religious sources (the Quran, the sayings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, and Islamic law); analyzes World Health Organization statistics on contemporary patterns of abstention and alcohol consumption in Muslim majority countries; reviews the social science literature on alcohol studies in Muslim settings; presents Saudi Arabia and Turkey as opposite extremes of prohibition and permissiveness in Muslim majority countries; offers France as a case study of the effects of migration on abstention and drinking patterns of Muslims in minority settings (about a quarter of all Muslims live as religious minorities); and looks at the rationales that some Muslims give for drinking. In conclusion, the article places the problem of alcohol prohibition in a larger context of how to approach food and drink prescriptions and proscriptions; it also cautions against overestimating the influence of Islam, and suggests an agenda for future studies of alcohol-related beliefs and behaviors among Muslims.

Which is the worst deed: to kill a man, to rape a woman, or to get drunk? Drunkenness is the worst because the drunkard will commit both rape and murder.

- Islamic saying (Aziz Omrane, personal communication, Tunis 1992)

Given the vast literature of books and journals specialized in the study of alcohol, the existing scholarship on Islam and alcohol seems small. It consists of a modest number of publications about alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors of Muslims and about alcohol in Islamic doctrine - the former from a social science perspective and the latter from a religious doctrinal perspective. Since Muslims constitute about a fifth of the world's population - about 1.3 billion people - this would appear to be an underdeveloped area within alcohol studies. The paucity of research in this subfield is in a way not surprising because alcohol is forbidden in Islam and Muslim countries tend to have low rates of alcohol consumption. Yet the topic is important, in part because alcohol abuse among Muslims is a significant social problem, both in Muslim countries and among Muslims in countries where they are a minority, but also because of other considerations besides social pathology that make alcohol and Islam a timely topic.

This article offers an overview of the topic of alcohol and Islam, addressing such questions as: What are the patterns of alcohol consumption in Muslim countries? What does the social science literature teach us about alcohol and Muslims? What normative behaviors with regard to alcohol are prescribed by Islamic textual sources and how did these norms evolve? What is the range of practice of Muslims with regard to alcohol consumption in different parts of the world today, in both Islamic majority countries and in countries in which Muslims are a minority? What happens when Muslims emigrate from a country where alcohol is discouraged to a country where alcohol is permitted and even positively valued? Since Islam forbids alcohol, how do Muslims who drink explain their behavior? We conclude with an agenda for suggested future studies of alcohol-related beliefs and behaviors of Muslims.

Alcohol and Islam in history

Paradoxically, it was Muslim chemists who were responsible for developing distillation to a high level of sophistication and transmitting it to Europe via Spain. Although distillation is a process which arose independently in different places in the world, Muslims greatly improved distillation technology. In the eighth century Muslims developed that distinctively shaped apparatus which is a staple of every chemistry laboratory - the alembic - for the efficient collection of distillate through a descending condensation tube. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Alcohol and Islam: An Overview
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.