New Year Without Alcoholism

“{They ask you concerning alcohol and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and some benefits for men, but the sin is far greater than the benefit.’}” (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:219).

It has always seemed ironic to me that the new year marks an increase in drinking as well as a mass rush to write down a list of “New Year’s Resolutions”.

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As Muslims, of course, we can see the irony in this. One shouldn’t be drinking to begin with, let alone in excess, at a mixed party.

It is a bit ridiculous to then go home and make a list about how one can be a better person the next year. However, this irony is a reality for many people – even Muslims.

It is certain that many of the celebrations in the new year involved the consumption of alcohol. It is also just as certain that many people drinking at those celebrations were Muslims.

As Muslims, we must try to avoid alcohol and encourage other Muslims to do the same. We must also be able to help our fellow Muslims who do drink by recognizing the symptoms of alcoholism, knowing the harms of alcohol (even one drink can harm you). We must also advise and help or fellow Muslims without imposing blame or ridicule.

The word “alcohol” is derived from the Arabic word al-kohl, which means fermented grains, fruits, or sugars that form an intoxicating beverage when fermented.

Khamr or, khamrah, is the word used in the Qur’an to denote a fermented beverage that intoxicates a person when he/she drinks it.

In the Islamic World

New Year Without Alcoholism - About Islam

Although alcohol is forbidden in Islam, it is widely available in many Muslim cities around the world (Lawless).

In fact, Muslims aren’t immune to alcoholism at all. Some Muslim countries produce brands of beer and at least half a dozen different wines, and import just about every kind of alcohol that exists.

The Register of Addition Specialists and Castle Worldwide list addiction and alcohol abuse centers for Muslims even in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. O.P Kapoor states that symptoms of alcoholism in Yemeni and Gulf men are often not diagnosed since alcoholism isn’t as widespread and familiar to the medical profession there.

However, he says that many of his Muslim patients consume beer and wine, contributing to their gastric health problems (Kapoor).

Furthermore, even “true” non-alcoholic beer, which is popular with Muslims in the Gulf, as well as other Muslim and European States, DOES contain alcohol in small amounts and has been condemned by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) because it provides not only alcohol, but also “triggers” the senses of smell and taste that can encourage alcoholism.

In studies, both small levels of alcohol and the anticipation of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer raised levels of a brain chemical called dopamine, which plays a role in feelings of elation and pleasure (Buddy).

However, despite the spread of alcoholism in the Muslim world, little is being done to educate Muslims about the health risks of intoxicants.

Many Islamic websites simply emphasize the “wrongness” of alcoholism and its detrimental effect on the values of society.

Other websites speak mostly of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and alcohol related liver problems. Many Muslims, then reason that “it’s not really so bad to drink” as long as they are not otherwise sinning, aren’t pregnant – and if they have a strong liver.

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