The doctrinal development of the prohibition of intoxicating drink in Islamic revelation and law
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There is the feeling in many quarters, especially as reflected in most general readers on Islam, that the prohibition of wine is an established and simple fact, and may safely be disregarded as a peripheral subject deserving of note, but worthy of little more attention than the perusal of one or two 'clear' koranic verses. This view, however, cannot be held by anyone with a knowledge of the interaction between literary analysis and the study of Islamic historiography, religion and law. For the prohibition of intoxicating drinks came about over intensive debate motivated by an apparently inadequate Revelation and characterised by wide-ranging opinion to almost every aspect, every opinion backed up by its own source materials. My research will describe and analyse the doctrinal development of the institutionalised prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Muslim tradition and law through a developmental approach. I will view the sources and proto-legal rulings as the product of social and moral trends arising from a nascent Community possessing Revelation and defined by their own separate institutions. This shall be approached first of all by placing wine into a cultural framework by examining its status in monotheistic, polytheistic and pre-Islamic belief and ritual. Through this framework, the material included in the Kur'an document will be discussed highlighting the prohibition of khamr as coming about through a series of incremental and reactionary steps reflecting social, cultural, religious and legal trends and ideas as noted by the prophetic legislator (or at least as tradition has portrayed). As a parallel source of divinely guided legislation, the 'historical' tradition, the exegetically derived Hadith, will be considered through the lens of theoretical discussions that later became connected to the 'real world,' and provided, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, for the socio-religious needs of the earliest Community. The remnants of the discussions between the scholars will be seen in the light of their efforts to understand the Revelation, and in doing so, created prophetic precedent that filled out and completed the meaning of the Revelation, in effect becoming 'history.' Careful note and analysis will be undertaken of the implications of the alleged drinking habits of the Prophet himself, and the interpretations of a remarkable fact that the Kur'an promises in the Hereafter a garden containing rivers, one of which is red wine, "pleasant to the drinker." The fundamental questions arising from these remnants are of course, what is 'wine,' what is allowed, what is not, and why? The crime of wine-drinking, paralleled in severity to no less than idolatry, did not bring with it its own koranic punishment, as the other 'crimes against God' (hadd, pl. hudud) should do. Indeed, how did wine-drinking even become connected to the other hadd crimes, and why? Addressed will be the legal problems the jurists were trying to solve, the tools they used, and the extent to which those problems were a product of their own making. The Islamic materials can be viewed as either sources for the history of the early Islamic community, or as a record of what Muslims of later generations told each other about how the early Islamic community was 'supposed to have been'. My methodological approach to these source materials is not to try and reconstruct "what really happened" in the lifetime of the Prophet or in the first two generations of Believers who used this material as the basis of their communal ethic. Rather, through analysis and comparison of the different streams of thought within the earliest generations of the Community, I shall attempt to derive from the residues of their discussions how the Muslims reacted to khamr (and sakar) in the Kur'an, what they were really talking about by circulating the exegetical materials, and why? Throughout this work the term spelled "Kur'an" will be used to denote the canonised work published and widely distributed by the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd ibn al-Aziz al-Sa'ud (Madina, A.H. 1405)." The spelled term "koranic" is used throughout, in keeping with the common un-capitalised form of "biblical," otherwise transliteration conforms strictly to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition (Leiden, 1954- 2000).
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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