What is Islam's attitude towards alcohol?

I’ve always thought that Islam was against drinking alcohol.

Then here, on the Wikipedia entry for “Liquor,” I read this:

So what is the deal here? Was Islam more forgiving towards alcohol back then? Is it even that opposed to drinking now? The only Muslim that I know personally is a Moroccan man who owns a restaurant that serves alcohol, but I don’t know if he drinks it.

The Quran states that all intoxicants (drugs, liquor) are forbidden.

That didn’t stop Muslims then and now from breaking that particular commandment, though.

I cribbed the following from http://www.inter-islam.org/Prohibitions/khmrmk.html

*Regarding Alcohol - The Holy Quraan states: “They ask Thee concerning Wine and Gambling, Say: In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.” (Surah Al-Baqarah:219)

The Arabic word used in this text is Khamr which is applied to all intoxicating liquor or drug.

The Quraan further states in Surah Al-Maaidah verse 90: “O Ye who believe! Intoxicants and Gambling, Sacrificing to Stones, and (divination by) Arrows, are an abomination, of Satan’s handiwork; Keep away from such, that Ye may prosper.”*

Forgot to add: In Islam, everything involving liquor is forbidden. Selling it, serving it, heck, even planting the grapes for the sole purpose of turning them into an alcoholic drink is haram.

So that Moroccan guy you mentioned? Boy, is he in deep doo-doo.

When I was last in Morocco I remember seeing ‘bars’ for the locals.

True, they were all men there and it had black curtains over the windows and doors, but it was still a bar where they served the locally brewed beer. Teenager friends of mine there said that it was permitted to a small extent .

I guess that Christians have a lot of laws to obey too but we don’t always manage to !

Or even to sometimes argue that actually the Koran only advise against it, not forbid it, or that it just applies to wine and not to other alcohols.

It didn’t prevent Omar Khayyam from celebrating wine in it in his poems, either. So, it implies that even in his times, drinking wine was perfectly possible in muslim countries.

That would explain the stills mentioned in the Wikipedia entry. Perhaps they thought that by distilling the liquor, it was then fit to consume. In fact, they probably heated the wine because they wanted to turn it into something other than wine (so they could drink it,) assuming that the prohibition was only in regard to wine.

There is also the argument that the Koran forbids intoxication, i.e. getting drunk. One can drink alcohol without getting drunk.

I have also heard about a custom to circumvent the ban on alcohol. Citing the verse from the Koran that goes something like “the first drop of wine will be thine undoing”, some Muslims dip their finger in a new drink and fling away one drop, thus avoiding the offending drop proscribed by the Koran. Can’t find a cite for that, has anyone else heard of this custom?

There’s no such verse in the Qur’an, Fear Itself. Ha, I always say if you collected together all the crap that’s alleged to be in the Qur’an by people who haven’t actually read it, it would be bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The OP is missing one crucial point: Science. In the old days, Muslims were leaders of scientific research. Alchemists were investigating the nature of matter. Their work led directly into modern chemistry. I don’t think their motive was to get more drunk. It was to get more knowledge.

Consider my ignorance fought. Is the custom of flinging away a drop of wine/liquor also apocryphal?

Let me put it this way. I’ve read hundreds of books and journal articles on Islam for the past 20 years. I’ve traveled to several Muslim countries and hung out with lots of different Muslims. I’ve never heard of this before. I do believe you been whooshed, babe.

It should be mentioned that there are alcoholic drinks traditional to the Middle East – for example, raki or arrack. Raki is widely drunk not just in Turkey, but in Iraq, and I guess in other places as well.

And Argent Towers, your Moroccan friend is not going to hell – at least, not for serving alcohol to non-Muslims.

So no room for the ancient Greeks then :rolleyes:

How do bars work in countries like Dubai? Are the locals forbidden to work their or is it fine for a Moslem to serve alcohol to a non-Moslem?

You’ll find that a lot of Muslim work built on the works of the ancient Greeks.

You know, there’s a certain irony in the fact that in a culture where Islamic scholarship in science tends to be overlooked, someone’s getting upset that in a thread about Islam, Islamic scholarship and contribution to science is mentioned.

Apparently Muslims are permitted to grow opium (in Afghanistan) and sell it to the infidels, so long as they don’t consume it themselves. I don’t see why alcohol would be any different.

I suspect a lot depends on personnal interpretations or local customs. I’ve certainly known muslims who believes that muslims can’t sell or serve alcohol.
The weirdest case, though, was this bar owner who, when his brother was visiting him left his bar when his brother came. Note that his brother knew perfectly that he owned a bar, and even occasionnally would replace him behind the bar. But they would never be both present at the same time on the premises so that they wouldn’t see the other one serving alcohol. This would have been, apparently, disrepectful.

I doubt this particular stunt (“Thou shall not see ty brother handling beer”) is to be found anywhere in the Koran or in scholarly interpretations.

Not really, no. I just take exception (as we all should) when a posters suggests that Islamic scientists “invented” chemistry.

The notion that it was “invented” is pretty flawed, as the arrival at a modern understanding of chemistry from the unscientific approach in days of yore was a gradual one. But it would certainly be wrong to suggest that Muslims essentially just revived Greek tradition and didn’t discover anything themselves. What Greek scientists practiced could hardly be likened to what we would call “chemistry”.

Here in Minneapolis, we’ve recently had problems with Muslim taxi driver driving off if their passenger comes out of a store with liquor (which violates the requirements of their taxi license).

Of course, most of these taxi drivers are Somali immigrants, from a particularily fundamentalist branch of Islam. Another prominent local Muslim owns and operates a bunch of bars & nightclubs in town.

How odd… Even though I did not use the word “invented,” and it’s plain for all to see what I said and what I didn’t say, Lochdale quotes me as saying “invented.” I’m very puzzled by such an obviously nonfactual assertion about me. I still do not know what you’re objecting to.

There were ancient Greek alchemists, true, but an important point to remember in the history of science is the dichotomy in ancient Greek society, where the intellectual theoreticians did not get their hands dirty actually doing experiments. Archimedes seems to have been an exception in this regard. The most famous ancient Greek alchemist actually wasn’t Greek at all, she was a Jewish woman: Maria of Alexandria, the inventor of the balneum Mariae. Did the Greek scientists invite her to their symposia and ask about the insights she’d gained into the nature of matter? Or did they prefer to theorize about matter in the realm of pure ideas while ignoring the people who worked with actual matter? What am I saying?.. the Greeks had all-male parties. Women were not invited as equals in ancient Greek society. They may have been present at the symposia as servants and whores, but not intellectual equals. Aspasia was an exception, a woman who could hold her own with the male intellectuals at parties.

The claims I made for Islamic science were not extravagant, and I’m prepared to defend my modest assertions with facts if challenged. No one has made a real challenge to my post, though, only a bit of a non sequitur. I said, and these are accurate quotes:

“Their work led directly into modern chemistry.”
This is not controversial. Europeans in the Middle Ages studied Islamic works on alchemy translated into Latin. The work of Jabir ibn Hayyan, for example. Muslim scientists had no qualms about doing lab work and writing it up for other intellectuals to consider and try out. Muslim scientists took what they learned from Greek and other sources, and developed new ideas on top of those. Their lab techniques and equipment continued to be used into the era of modern chemistry.

“I don’t think their motive was to get more drunk. It was to get more knowledge.” The OP seemed to assume that the reason for Muslim scientists distilling wine was to have more potent booze. Based on what I understand of the history of Islamic science, I doubt that was what motivated them. They studied the nature of matter for the same reason any scientist would: to find out how the world is put together by taking it apart. I’m sorry if I hadn’t explained myself clearly and left it open for misinterpretation.