Sharab aur Islam (Alcohol and Islam)

Alcohol is a dangerous drug and a major public health menace in the United States and many other parts of the world.  Drinking alcohol is a disruptive social evil and it has been recognized as such since the beginning of the Islamic era.  Drug abuse is not only an American problem, but also it has become a serious worldwide socio-medical problem. 21st century is witnessing the use of harmful substances as more common in a given society than at any time   Inspite of public education on the dangers of drug dependence, the number of drug-addicts is increasing day by day. The credit goes to Islam for successfully combating and eradicating drug-addiction.

Historically during the Jahiliyya period, in the Arabian Peninsula, brewing of alcohol from dates, grapes, honey and doura or durra (from Indian cereal, sorghum) was generally popular.  Drinking of wine was clearly identified as a troublesome social evil and successfully dealt with. Even after fourteen hundred years, Islam has successfully made its followers to abstain from alcohol, and prohibition of alcohol stands out as extraordinary and almost distinctive in human history.

History

Small but definitely measurable quantities of alcohol are normally present in many parts of the human body: in the liver, brain and blood; from bacteria in the large intestine; and in the muscles.

An ancient Persian legend says that Jamshid, a grape-loving king, stored ripe grapes grown in Shiraz in Fars Province, (which is about 935 km from Tehran) in a cellar so he could enjoy grapes all year long. One day he sent his slaves to fetch him some grapes. When they did not return he decided to go to the cellar himself only to find that the carbon dioxide gas emanating from some bruised fermenting grapes had knocked them out. The king ordered the jars be labeled as  “Poison” One of the king’s rejected and distressed mistresses decided to end her life by drinking this poisoned potion, only to leave the cellar singing and dancing in high spirits. The king realized that this fruity liquid had the wonderful and mysterious power to make sad people happy. When Alexander overthrew the powerful Persian Empire he entered Darius’s palace in January 330 BCE. During one of the conqueror’s orgies soldiers raided the wine cellars. In a drunken moment Alexander ordered the destruction of Persepolis of Persia.

People discovered that alcoholic beverages could be produced from practically any fermentable material: fruits, berries, flowers, honey, the sap of trees, milk and from almost any plant or animal substance containing carbohydrates or sugar. In the tropics, people learned to use the sap of palm trees and cactus. In the Far and Near East and in Europe, they used honey and milk. In the New World, they used corn, barley, wheat, sugar cane, potatoes and a wide variety of other plants.

Ancient civilizations used alcohol to welcome friends and to say goodbye to them. They drank to in honor of new leaders, new years, marriages, births and deaths. People drank to each other’s health and to avoid each other’s illnesses. They drank to launch ships, to celebrate victory, and to forget the misery and defeat of war. They drank in luxury as a symbol of their wealth and in poverty to forget their hunger. They drank to their gods and to many earthly things.

In 2300 BCE, history records (in the Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon) a number of price-fixing and dispensing controls of alcoholic beverages. These statutes were directed at pub (inn or tavern) keepers of the time.  Later on in ancient Egypt, the priesthood issued a number of prohibitions (proscriptions) against excess alcohol drinking. Attempts to deal with the problems of excessive drinking were also recorded throughout Persian, Cretan, Arabic, Greek, and Roman history. In ancient Rome   the Romans were heavy drinkers, and the Emperor Domitian ordered the destruction of half the vineyards and forbade additional planting without imperial approval. The rulers of many other countries tried to enact similar restrictions.  No one succeeded in implementing prohibition, and hence prohibition was always repealed.

During the 17th and 18th centuries with the Protestant Reformation   drinking was condemned by the Christian church as sinful and immoral. The preaching of self-control by Calvin and Luther had a profound effect on not only Europe, but upon Colonial America, which pilgrims of these faiths were just settling.

Dates and Grapes

According to the Qur’an, wine was a “device of the devil” hence forbidden but it also states:

And from the fruits of date-palms and grapes, you derive wholesome drink or strong drink (this was before the order of the prohibition of the alcoholic drinks) and also good nourishment (as food), (is healing for mankind).  , Behold, Verily in this also is a Sign for those who are wise (or who understand or who have sense or who ponder).”

Surah,  An-Nahl  16: 67

This Ayah or verse was revealed during the last Makkan stage of Prophethood.

So Islamic doctors used wine as a medicine only and didn’t prescribe it for “social” reasons. This ayah or verse challenges the Muslims to think, the emphasis is on the words, ” a Sign for those who are wise.” We need to ponder on the words “Dates” and “Grapes.”

There is no Tafsir available on this particular verse or ayah.  There are four kinds of modern Tafasir (plural of Tafsir): namely (1) scientific kind of Tafsir (2) sectarian kind of Tafsir (3) heretical kind of Tafsir and (4) socio-literary kind of Tafsir or commonly known as revivalist kind of Tafsir.

The scientific kind of Tafsir tries to explain some Qur’anic verses in the light of scientific facts and theories. This type of trend is not new. Imam al-Ghazali’s Tafsir was also based on this approach. This is evident in his book Jawahir al-Qur’an. He too could be said to have followed the footsteps of ibn Masud.  In modern times Shaykh Tantawi Jawahir (d. 1940) championed the cause as shown in his work titled Jawahir Tafsir al-Qur’an Karim.

The Sectarian kind of Tafsir explains Qur’anic verses in line with the doctrines of the sectarian groups.

The Heretical kind of Tafsir is based on individual personal desire and whims.

The Socio-Literary kind of Tafsir explains al-Qur’an from socio-political economic and religious perspectives. The pioneers of this kind of Tafsir include Muhammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905) who was regarded as the founder of modern Tafsir. Others are Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935), Syed Qutb (d. 1966), Syed Abul-Ala Mawdudi (d. 1979). Other notable modern scholars are Abdul Razzaq Nawlaul, Mustapha Abdul Razzaq, A’ishah Abdul Al-Rahman Bint al-Shati, Muhammad Abu Zayd, Muhammad Qasimi, Abdul al Karim al-Khatib, Mustapha al-Maraghi and Muhammad Mubarak.

The lack of Tafsir on this verse (16:67) is due to our education and training. There is a dichotomy.  Our Ulama who are well versed in the religious education lack modern education (natural sciences). Those who are well versed in the natural sciences are deficient in the religious education.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.

 

1,000 years ago our scholars were well versed both in the religious knowledge as well as in natural sciences.  Let me give you a few examples:

Al-Biruni (Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad, b. 973, d. after 1050-1,000 years ago, he was 30 years old) was a Central Asian scientist.  Hetraveled in Afghanistan and India, making astronomical and geographic observations. The largest part of his writings are on astronomy, astrology, and applied mathematics, but he also wrote on pharmacology, geography, philosophy, history, and other subjects. A taste for precise observation is shown in his determinations of latitudes and the densities of gemstones. His encyclopedic India (tr. 1888) and Chronology (tr. 1879) provide invaluable information about his time. Many scholars of Islamic historiography recognize in al-Biruni the exemplification of the true Islamic spirit in scientific inquiry. Trained initially as a mathematician, Biruni ventured into the fields of chemistry, astronomy, history, geography, and pharmacology. He proved to be the authority, par excellence, of classical Islamic knowledge. His mastership of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, and Greek gave him access to the treasures of ancient civilizations and a means to grasp their “truths”.

Ibn Sina was born in 980 A.D. at Afshana near Bukhara. The young Bu Ali received his early education in Bukhara, and by the age of ten had become well versed in the study of the Qur’an and various sciences. He started studying philosophy by reading various Greek, Muslim and other books on this subject and learnt logic and some other subjects from Abu Abdallah Natili, a famous philosopher of the time. While still young, he attained such a degree of expertise in medicine that his renown spread far and wide. At the age of 17, he was fortunate in curing Nooh Ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhara, of an illness in which all the well-known physicians had given up hope. On his recovery, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only desired permission to use his uniquely stocked library.

On his father’s death, Bu Ali left Bukhara and traveled to Jurjan where Khawarizm Shah welcomed him. There, he met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan al-Biruni. Later he moved to Ray and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he treated Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic. From Hamadan, he moved to Isphahan, where he completed many of his monumental writings. Nevertheless, he continued traveling and the excessive mental exertion as well as political turmoil spoilt his health. Finally, he returned to Hamadan where he died in 1037 A.D.

He was the most famous physician, philosopher, encyclopaedist, mathematician and astronomer of his time. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the “Canon” in the West. In addition to describing pharmacological methods, the book described 760 drugs and became the most authentic materia medica of the era. He was also the first to describe meningitis and made rich contributions to anatomy, gynecology and child health.

His philosophical encyclopedia Kitab al-Shifa was a monumental work, embodying a vast field of knowledge from philosophy to science. He classified the entire field as follows: theoretical knowledge: physics, mathematics and metaphysics; and practical knowledge: ethics, economics and politics. His philosophy synthesizes Aristotelian tradition, Neoplatonic influences and Muslim theology.

Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields.

 

Al-Kindi was best known as a philosopher but he was also a mathematician and scientist of importance.

Al-Kindi “was the most leaned of his age, unique among his contemporaries in the knowledge of the totality of ancient scientists, embracing logic, philosophy, geometry, mathematics, music and astrology. Al-Kindi was given the best possible education at Basra and Baghdad. His life was spent in the service of the court as tutor, astrologer, translator and editor of many Greek philosophical works. We possess few of his writings in the original Arabic, probably because, at one time, his extensive library was temporarily confiscated. His optical and astronomical calculations were valued for centuries. He was the first to apply mathematics not only to the physical world but also to Materia Medica where he calculated the effect of medicines from the proportions and qualities represented in the various mixtures.

Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet and mathematician, b. Nishapur. He was called Khayyam [tentmaker] probably because of his father’s occupation. The details of his life are mostly conjectural, but he was well educated and became celebrated as the outstanding mathematician of his time. As astronomer to Sultan Malik Shah, he was one of a group that undertook to reform the calendar. Their work led to the adoption of a new era, the so-called Jalalian or Seljuk era, beginning Mar. 15, 1079. Although he wrote a number of important mathematical studies, Omar’s fame as a scientist has been greatly eclipsed in the West by the popularity of his Rubaiyat, epigrammatic verse quatrains. 

Islamic Influence

Dr. William Osler was a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. He spent   16 years at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (1889-1905).  One of Hopkins's four original medical faculty and physician-in-chief of the Hopkins Hospital, the Canadian-born Osler was 44 when he joined Hopkins, and he was eager to introduce the learning-by-doing method of medical training practiced in Europe. He encouraged teaching at the patient's bedside--a radical departure from the lecture-intensive medical training that was being taught in the United States. He demanded that students learn science--microscopy, bacteriology, and other disciplines--in the laboratory, in addition to lessons from lectures and textbooks. Medicine begins and ends with the patient, Introduced the Residency program for training physicians.

Bedside teaching and Residency Program was there in Islamic Medicine 1,000 years ago. Please read the website: http://www.irfi.org

 

The framers of the U.S. Constitution studied Islam deeply and were influenced by Islam, particularly the administration of Hadrat Umar (RA) and the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun. Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian and Unitarians never acknowledge Hadrat Isa (AS) or Jesus as Son of God and wrote his own Bible. Martin Luther after being influenced by Islam founded the Protestant Church.

 

Jagath Guru (universal teacher) Shankara Charya was influenced by the Tawhid of  Islam and produced  Advaita Vedanta philosophy which is based on the interpretation of Vedanta by Adi Shankaracharya. Advaita Vedanta is a philosophy of oneness of all creation (matter as well as consciousness). Advaita means monism or non-dualism. Advaita Vedanta provides complete unified theory for everything in the universe.

 

Dates-Tamar means dates, particularly dry dates. ( Tamar Hind = Tamarind)

The word Date Palm is mentioned in the Qur’an 20 times. 8 times the date-palm is mentioned alone; at 12 places it is clubbed with other fruits like olive, pomegranate and grapes. Al-Tibb Al-Nabawi or the Medicine of the Prophet mentions many benefits of the date fruit.

The domestication and cultivation of date palm started 6,000 to 8,000 years back in Mesopotamia. That might be the first cultivated fruit plant in the world, that is why palm-trees are tightly associated with the development of human culture and civilization.

According to an old Arabic saying says that the uses of date-palm are as many as the number of days in a year (365). Its wood is used as building material and big leaves are used to make handicrafts like fans, ropes, sticks, mats, etc.

The date fruit is sweet and delicious and one of the best nutritious diets for mankind. The nutrition contents are sucrose, glucose, protein, cellulose, starch, and vitamins A, B, C. It is a dioeceous tree which means male and female plants occur separately and the cross pollination between their flowers is responsible for the production of fruits. One male can pollinate 100 females. Nakhlistan means the date-palm garden or oasis.

It was a common practice for the pre Islamic Arabs to cut down palm-trees, especially males of the enemy tribe. This practice was highly discouraged by Muslims. They considered this a sacrilege on earth (Fasad –Fil-Ardh) even during war expeditions.

For early Muslims the conservation of plants was a revolutionary concept and lead to the development of the Muslim society

Medically Dates play a dual role as nutritious and as health tonic. Dates act as a demulcent (to soothe or protect an irritated mucous membrane), an emollient (soothing to skin or mucous membrane), a heart stimulant and helps in checking the loss of memory.  Dates are helpful in   respiratory disorders, especially asthma. Date is used as a laxative, a diuretic and aphrodisiac.

A paste of powdered palm-stones helps in the cure of eye diseases (keratitis, ophthalmia)

The fruit date is very beneficial for pregnant women.The fruit date is known to be rich in Vitamin B6, folic acid, Potassium, Iron and MAGNESIUM. Magnesium is very important element to the pregnant women and is hard to find as natural source. It is important to the function of the heart and blood circulation.  (Source: Clin Obstet Gynecol 1999 Dec; 42(4): 802-19).

Good dates are obtained when the roots of the palm tree remain submerged in water and the upper part is exposed to the fiery heat of the sun. Date palm is 50-80 feet in height; good fruiting occurs only for one hundred years or so and the life-span of the tree is 200 years. Modern science has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. Hence Rasoolullah (SAS) had a great importance attached to them.  Dates are also rich in natural fibers. Modern medicine has shown that they are effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also surpass other fruits in the complete variety of their ingredients. They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. In other words, one date is a minimum of a balanced and healthy diet. Arabs usually combine dates with milk and yogurt or bread, butter and fish. This combination indeed makes a self-sufficient and tasty diet for both mind and body. The Prophet likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying, “Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall.”

Experiments have also shown that dates contain some stimulants that strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy. This helps the dilation of the uterus at the time of delivery on one hand and reduces the bleeding after delivery on the other. Dietitians consider dates as the best food for women in confinement and those who are breast-feeding. This is because dates contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers and enriching the breast-milk with all the elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease. The Prophet (Pbuh) has emphasized the importance of dates and their effectiveness in the growth of the fetus. He has also recommended they be given to women. Modern dietary institutes now recommend dates to be given to children suffering from a nervous nature or hyperactivity. The Prophet (Pbuh) has also recommended dates as a medicine for heart troubles, according to some reports. Modern science has also proved the effectiveness of date, in preventing diseases of the respiratory system. (1)

Sayyidah Áisha, (R.Aa.), the mother of the believers, used to prescribe dates for those suffering from giddiness. It is now well known that a fall in the level of the sugar in the blood and low blood pressure are among the causes of giddiness. She was also reported to have used dates combined with cucumber to treat her over-slim condition.  She said, “they’ve tried to fatten me by giving me everything. But I did not become fat. Then they fattened me with cucumber and ripe dates and I gained weight” Hadrat A’isha (RAa) was quite correct, as we now know that one kilogram of dates contains nearly 3,000 calories which alone are sufficient to supply the minimum daily requirements of an active man for one full day. (1)

Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals. When the level of trace elements falls in the body, the health of the blood vessels is affected leading to an increased heart rate and a consequent inability to perform its function with normal efficiency. As dates are also rich in calcium, they help strengthen the bones. When the calcium content in the body decreases, children are affected with rickets and the bones of adults become brittle and weak (osteoporosis). (1)

Dates are also important in keeping up the health of eyes. It is quite effective in guarding against night-blindness. In the early years of Islam, dates served as food for Muslim warriors. They used to carry them in special bags hung at their sides. They are the best stimulant for muscles and so the best food for a warrior about to engage in battle. (2) (Source:  http://zikr.org/fast/medical2.htm)

The decoction of the fruit was used to treat bronchitis, cough and colitis as well as its uses as expectorant. In addition to its uses as an emollient, it is used in the treatment of gout and blood pressure. (3)

1. Tamr is remedy for potassium deficiency diseases; Tamr is a general restorative if eaten as a daily food. Tamr treats the cardiac disorder especially after diarrhea and vomiting or after diuretic medications.

2. Tamr contains Potassium, Glycine and Threonine and these activate the milk hormone (prolactin). Tamr acts as lactagogue if it is used in daily feeding of a woman in her lactation period.

3. Tamr as aphrodisiac:  When tamr is mixed with milk and cinnamon it acts as an aphrodisiac and activates the formation of sexual desire.

A breakfast meal composed of black bread and cooked yolk (seven eggs) with 100 gram Agua (or tamrý) and 15-gram margarine is aphrodisiac food. This breakfast must be followed with a cup of milk or carrot juice thus activates the sexual behavior.

4. Date and tumors: Feeding on tamr increases the body immunity and resistance to cancer diseases. Estron hormone is extracted from date kernels (seeds) and treated chemically to obtain ‘stradiol’ which can be used for cancer treatment.

5. Date and abscesses: A remedy of warm Agua paste (or tamr paste) and margarine is applied externally on the abscesses. The remedy is analgesic and a local antipyretic.

6. Date and skin allergy: Remedy of tamr paste in water is antihistaminic; the remedy is externally applied to the skin. Food containing tamr is sedative to allergy. Zinc is the active ingredient inducing allergic inhibition.

7. Date and poisonous bites: Prophet Mohammed (SAS) said that: The direct external use of tamr paste on the poisonous bites gets rid of its poisonous effect.

8. Date and Muslim’s fasting: Muslims in the fasting month (Ramadan) start their meals with tamr soaked in water for a period ranging from 3-12 hours. Soaked tamr containing a soluble sugars which are absorbed in 5 minutes from the soft tissues of the digestive tract. Tamr sugars recompansate the loss in the level of blood sugar during the fasting period (Famuyiwa,et al .1992).

9. Date and delivery: The consumption of tamr as ingredient of the daily meals of a woman after and before her delivery is acting as tonic for uterine muscles. In addition to its help activating the delivery process as well as prevent the post delivery bleeding due to the presence of constricting substance in tamr; the quiet typical example for this case Virgin Mary delivery and her feeding on tamr.

10. Date and pediatric anxiety: A child consumes seven dates (tamr) daily; is a remedy for anxiety and nervous disorders.

11. Date and ascaris: Daily dosage of seven dates Agua before sleeping kills ascaris worms due to its dysentery effect.

12. Date stones and eyes: The burned date seeds (stones) were powdered and added to ‘kohl’ (50%/50%; wt/wt). The remedy improve the ophthalmia and activate the growth of eye lashes.

13. Date and chest infection: A remedy used for throat and chest infections is: 50 gram tamr, 50 gram fig, 50 gram hibiscus and 50 gram dried grapes ( fruits). The mixture boiled in one liter water. The remedy is one dosage three times daily; it is recommended as an expectorant.

14. Date and renal calculi.  A cup of hot tamr decoction (seven tamr) two times daily for a period of 15 days acts as a  lithonotryptic and diuretic. A drink made from powdered date stones with dosage three times daily  is lithonotryptic for hepatic and renal calculi.

15. Date and dehydration: Tamr decoction free from fibrous material is added to some table salt to recompensate for water and mineral loss. This remedy used to treat the dehydration resulting after vomiting and diarrhea.

16. Date and hemorrhoids: The continuous feeding on tamr relieve the hemorrhoids pains and increase the body resistance to this disease. The calcium, phosphorus and iron of dates are active ingredients in treatment of hemorrhoids.

17. Date and obesity: A daily meal containing tamr and almond or peanuts activate the person obesity.

18. Date and dermatitis: A medicinal soap made of powdered date stones, fats, alkali and antimicrobial substance is used for treatment of skin allergy and acrodermatitis.

19. Date and gout: A researches on tamr stones (seeds) were carried out in Egyptian Institute of Medicinal researches. The researches revealed that a coffee made from powdered tamr stones drunk twice daily relieves the gout pains.

20. Date and bronchial asthma: Decoction of tamr and fenugreek if drunk twice daily is recommended in the treatment of bronchial asthma.

21. Date and hyperacidity: Tamr or Agua when added to the food gets rid of stomach hyperacidity as well as blood acidity.

22. Date and general health: Mixture of 50 gram nuts (pinus + hazel nut + almond + walnut) and 50 gram of tamr were added to 15 gram margarine. The mixture is a dosage of one spoon (10 gram) before breakfast followed with a cup of hot Chamomil decoction. The mixture has general benefits for health and activity especially cardiac muscles and nervous system in addition to its increase of body immunity.

24. Date and night blindness: the daily consumption of tamr in meals and its decoction as eye-lotion help in maintenance of eye hygiene and remedy curative to the night blindness and ophthalmia.

25. Date is a hygienic fruits: Date (tamr, Agua and Rutab) cannot transfer the infectious germs. Tamr were mixed with germs of Cholera (100-1000 times as noticed in the waste of infected persons) after three days the tamr under investigation were completely free from Cholera germs.

26. Palm and stomach bleeding: A remedy composed of the terminal bud of palm tree (Gomar) and honey for daily breakfast gets rid of stomach bleeding. The breakfast must be followed with a cup of Chamomile decoction.

27. Palm and depression: A decoction of palm leaf sheaths (fibrous sheath) sweetened with fructose sugar and drunk twice daily is efficient as an anti-depression drug.

Grapes

The word grapes occur in the Qur’an 11 times.

8 000 varieties of grapes are cultivated, especially in Europe. It is a great source of glucose and fructose, minerals like Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Iron. The vitamin P in it checks bleeding caused by diabetes helps with inflammation of veins and cures Atherosclerosis. Grapes are known to be a good stimulant, digestive, demulcent. Stomachic, refrigerant and diuretic. Grapes increase and purify the blood. Juice of unripe fruit is astringent and is a remedy for ailments of throat. The sap from the stems is useful in skin diseases and in ophthalmia. Grapes are beneficial in chronic bronchitis, heart diseases and gout. It helps during cold and fevers and is a good diet for persons suffering from jaundice.

The glycemic index (G.I.) is a new concept in food nutrition. G.I.  ranks foods on how they affect our blood sugar levels. This index measures how much your blood sugar increases in the two or three hours after eating. By eating foods with a low glycemic index instead of those that are high, your blood sugar remains stable. For example, grapes have a G.I. index of 46 whereas cantaloupe has a G.I. index of 65. By eating the grapes instead of the cantaloupe, your stomach empties slower, your blood sugar level remains stable and you persist longer without needing food. When you make use of the glycemic index to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control. The knowledge of glycemic index   is especially important for people with diabetes.  Athletes and people who are overweight can also benefit from this knowledge. Patients with Diabetes should keep their blood sugar under tight control in order to avoid the complications that Diabetes causes.

80% of grapes in the world are used to make wine and 7% to make raisins (Zabib) and Vinegar.

Wine production was discouraged and banned since the advent of Islam, but grape cultivation was encouraged. This really helped the Arabs in improving their lot since wars and turpitudes were often the consequences of drinking too much wine.

Some psychological steps were taken in order to make sure the consumption of alcohol stopped among Muslims. Wine is declared as bad [2-219] and Surah Nisaa, 4:43, says that one should not go for prayers in a state of drunkenness. Then it was banned in Sura Almaida, 5: 90-91.

Drinking, making and presenting wine was all forbidden, so Muslims cast wine on the streets.

Grapes    Scientific/medical name(s): Vitis vinifera, Vitis coignetiae                                                                                                     (www.cancer.org)

Description

Grapes grow wild on vines or are cultivated. They are believed to be native to northwest Asia although they are currently grown throughout Europe and the United States. The seeds, skin, leaves, stems, and grape itself are used in herbal remedies. Some chemicals found in grape extracts or grape skin, such as Resveratrol and proanthocynadins,  are currently being studied for possible uses in the prevention and treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

Medical Benefits

Proponents claim the chemicals found in grape seed extract (proanthocyanidins) contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that block the action of activated oxygen molecules, known as free radicals that can damage cells. Some claim that these antioxidants inhibit the development of some types of cancer, protect against heart disease, and are useful for treating a variety of medical conditions such as arthritis, allergies, circulatory problems, diabetes, water retention, and vision problems. The compound found in the skins of red grapes (Resveratrol) is being studied to see how it affects the development and progression of heart disease and cancer.

Alternative Medicine practitioners recommend the use of grapes and parts of the grape plant internally for high blood pressure, menopause, varicose veins, high cholesterol, skin rashes, and urination problems. They also claim it works for inflammation of the gums, throat, eyes, and mouth.  Although now rarely promoted, the grape diet was used as a treatment to flush toxins from the body and protect the body against cancer and virtually all other diseases. Some supporters believed that the diet cured cancer.

Grape Diet

Fresh, preserved, and dried grapes are used in the form of liquid extracts, tinctures, gargles, enemas, douches, and compresses. Grape skins are used to make wine. Grape seed extract and Resveratrol are available in tablets and capsule supplements. The dosages vary depending on the manufacturer.

Johanna Brandt, a South African dietitian, proposed the grape diet in 1925. Brandt claimed to have cured herself of cancer by following the diet. After immigrating to the United States in 1927, she opened the Harmony Healing Center in New York City and began promoting the treatment. She wrote a book that was first published in 1928.

Interest began to grow in understanding the role of antioxidants in health, and proanthocyanidins were extracted from grape seeds in 1970. In the mid 1990s, the compound found mostly in the skins of red grapes (Resveratrol) was thought to be responsible for the low occurrence of heart disease among people in France who tend to eat a high-fat diet.

What is the evidence?

Laboratory and animal studies have shown that Resveratrol may help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, but randomized clinical trials are needed to make conclusions about how the findings apply to humans. One review article concluded that while moderate drinking of red wine might protect some older people against coronary heart disease, it is associated with increased risk of stroke, certain cancers, accidents and injuries, and a range of social problems. Resveratrol is currently being studied to determine its potential as an antioxidant and as an inhibitor of several enzymes that promote cell proliferation. (Anti-cancer agent).

Complications

The good chemical Resveratrol is present in red wine. In order to increase the intake of Resveratrol,  people drink more red wine. But drinking of more wine poses certain health risks. Alcohol is associated with increased risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, and liver in both men and women, and of breast cancer in women. Cancer risk also increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.

Instead of drinking red wine, one could eat  increasing amounts of BLUE/PURPLE colored fruits and vegetables in your low-fat diet.  This will help you maintain:

• A lower risk of some cancers
• Urinary tract health
• Memory function
• Healthy aging and Beat the Effects of Aging

Blue/purple fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of health-promoting phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and phenolics, currently being studied for their antioxidant and anti-aging benefits. One should get blue/purple colored fruits and vegetables every day such as: Blackberries, Blueberries, Black currants, Dried plums,
Elderberries, Purple figs, Purple grapes, Plums, Raisins, Purple asparagus, Purple cabbage  Purple carrots, Eggplant, Purple Belgian endive, Black salsify

Non-Alcoholic Beer.

The basic ruling on food and drink is that things are halal except for those which are specifically described in Shari`ah as being haram, such as alcoholic drinks.  It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Every intoxicating substance is haram.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari) And it was narrated that `A’ishah (RAa) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Every intoxicating substance is haram, and whatever intoxicates in large amounts, a handful of it is haram.’” (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi). Focusing more on the question in point, that is whether a non-alcoholic Beer is haraam; one should look into the following relevant fatwa:  “Non-alcoholic beer is haram because although it is claimed that it is alcohol free, it does have some alcohol in it. It was checked with beer manufacturers and confirmed that non-alcoholic beers do have a minimum amount of alcohol in them because during the manufacturing process, a small amount of alcohol is unavoidable. Also, the matter was checked from the legal perspective and found that U.S. law (and probably European law, too) allows beer manufacturers to claim that it is alcohol free if it contains less than one percent alcohol. It is wished that all Muslims will be aware of this fact and if they are not, then this fact should be made known through the proper educational and media channels.”  (Source: www.islamicity.com)   Allah Almighty knows best.  In Saudi Arabia Lab tests are conducted to make sure alcohol content is less than 1 %. Some insiders claim the tests are Junk! Most of the personnel who conduct these tests are people with little Imaan, so how can one accept their results as authentic and Islamically legitimate. Last year in UAE lab test showed pork contents in a canned beef product. This was just one random sample in a store. So if lab test are conducted more frequently most of the shelves may get emptied in a store.

Rhazes or   Al- Razi (860-932) was the first to describe smallpox and measles in the literature and may have been the first outside China to distill alcohol and used it to prevent infection in wounds. He used compresses soaked in warm wine to compress the intestines back into the abdominal cavity in the case of abdominal evisceration.

Avicenna or —Ibn Sina (980-1032) known as the “Prince of Physicians” wrote the main Medical textbook for western and eastern medicine, which was used for hundreds of years. Again he recommended wine for dressings and observed “wine is also very efficient in causing the products of digestion to become disseminated through the body”.

Albucasis or —Abul Qasim  al-Zahrawi (936-1013) was more interested in surgery. His was the first complete book of surgery with illustrations on techniques and instruments. His Treatise on Surgery was translated from Arabic into Latin in the late twelfth century, then into English in 1778. He recommended treating wounds with cotton wool soaked in rose oil or rose oil mixed with astringent wine and preventing the wound from being exposed to the air hence he was a pioneer in aseptic surgery. He used tepid astringent black wine in compound abdominal wounds (evisceration), irrigated infected sinuses with honey and dry wine, washed venesection (blood letting) sites with old wine.

REFERENCES: 

1.       Benefits of Dates.  http://members.muslimsites.com/skalghazal

2.       http://zikr.org/fast/medical2.htm

3.       Alchemy in Islamic Times History of Botany Part 1: The Date Palm in Ancient History. http://www.levity.com/alchemy/islam08.html

      4. IRFAN – HEALTH, SCIENCE ANDALTERNATIVE MEDICINE. Tocology in Qur’an.  www.iedit.com/profiles/News-Media/irfan/474.html

5.       Make a date with dates. Halal Digest. February 2001

6.      www.cancer.org