Forbidden Fruit: Why No Wine?

The first beer I ever drank in my life was not at a sneaky high school party or a 21st birthday bash. It was given to me by a kind and quirky old guy in central Turkey while I was coaching a short term team there.

When the team leader and I showed up to have lunch with him, he asked, “You boys drink beer?”

“No,” we answered honestly.

“OK, I’ll get you each two,” he replied, loading empties into a bucket on his bike handle bars and pedaling away.

As I recall, the kebabs he grilled were much better than the warmish Efes Pilsen!

Today, Turkey has tightened its grip on alcohol as part of teetotaling President Erdogan’s efforts to move the country toward Islamic purity. My imbibing cycling buddy would not be happy!

The Quran does make a case against consuming alcohol:

2.219: They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.”

5.90: O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab , and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan‘s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.

Muhammad reportedly said, “Allah’s curse falls on ten groups of people who deal with alcohol. The one who distills it; The one for whom it has been distilled; The one who drinks it; The one who transports it; The one for whom it has been brought; The one who serves it; The one who sells it; The one who utilizes the money from it; The one who buys it and the one who buys it for someone else.” Whew! Inclusive.

There are questions, of course: How many Muslims avoid alcohol in order to feel self righteous, how many out of obedience and a desire for a clear mind and how many don’t avoid it much at all?

And this: Is the Muslim stance on alcohol generally better than the Christian stance?

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