Religion and alcohol
The world's religions have had differing relationships with alcohol. Many religions forbid alcoholic consumption or see it sinful or negative. Others have allocated a specific place for it, such as in the Christian practice of using wine for Communion.
Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism
In Hinduism, wine as medicine is documented in the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda. Arishthas and Asavas are fermented juices, and herbs. Ayurveda, the oldest, documented system of medicine does not recommend wine for everyone. Wine is a potent healer for specific health conditions, on the other hand drinking wine without getting a pulse diagnosis done by an Ayurvedic doctor, may work the other way around. For instance, wine is recommended in specified quantity for Kapha body types.
Jainism is strictly against alcohol. Jainism, which preaches nonviolence and vegetarianism, does not allow alcoholic beverages because their fermentation depends on microorganisms which makes the alcohol non-vegetarian.
Buddhists typically avoid consuming alcohol (surāmerayamajja, referring to types of intoxicating fermented beverages), as it violates the 5th of the Five Precepts, the basic Buddhist code of ethics and can disrupt mindfulness and impeded one's progress in the Noble Eightfold Path.
Alcoholic consumption is not prohibited by the Jewish faith and appears within biblical text in several instances. For example:
In Gen. 9:20-27, Noah becomes intoxicated from his wine and lies unclothed in his tent where his youngest son discovers him while Noah is asleep.
In Psalm 104:15 it is written that wine, “gladdens human hearts.”
Excessive consumption and drunkenness, however, is discouraged yet is still not considered a condemnable action. Leviticus 10:9 reads: “A Kohen (priest) must not enter the Temple intoxicated.”
Consuming alcohol to carry out religious duty (such as sanctifying the Sabbath with wine) is prescribed and regularly practiced within Judaism.
Anecdotal evidence supports that Jewish communities, on the whole, view alcoholic consumption more negatively in comparison to Protestant Christian groups. The small sample of Jewish individuals viewed alcohol as destructive while a sample of Protestants referred to it as “relaxing.”
In the Catholic Church, the wine becomes the blood of Jesus Christ through transubstantiation. In Protestant denominations, the wine is simply a symbol of the blood of Christ. Monastic communities have brewed beer and made wine.
Some Christians including Pentecostalists and Methodists today believe one ought to abstain from alcohol. Alcohol consumption is also prohibited by Mormonism's "Word of Wisdom". Temperance and prohibitionist movements have often had religious elements: the movement which led to prohibition in the United States was started by Methodists and other Christian movements (see, for instance, Woman's Christian Temperance Union).
There is a consensus among theologians that alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited by Islam because it weakens the conscience of the believer. However, this has not prevented inhabitants of Muslim majority countries from producing alcoholic beverages such as rakı in Turkey, boukha in Tunisia or wine in Morocco and Algeria.
The wine is forbidden to the believers as well as gambling and divining stones.
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.
(Surat V, 90).
Two others find that wine can be a great blessing and a curse. But the latter is often superior to the good.
They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they should spend. Say, "The excess [beyond needs]. Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.
(Surat II, 219)
And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take intoxicant and good provision. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who reason
(Surat XVI, 67).
The last two surats about wine make it one of the delights of paradise promised by Muhammad
Is the description of Paradise, which the righteous are promised, wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey, in which they will have from all [kinds of] fruits and forgiveness from their Lord, like [that of] those who abide eternally in the Fire and are given to drink scalding water that will sever their intestines?
(Surat XLVII, 15)
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol has not always been forbidden by Islam and theories on this subject have often varied. The verse "And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take intoxicant and good provision. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who reason." (Quran, 16, 67) is subject to many interpretations
By the fact that the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad over a period of twenty years, it is by seeing the actions that people committed under the influence of alcohol (wine) that alcohol was gradually forbidden by Islam.
- Francis, L. J.; Fearn, M.; Lewis, C. A. (2005). "The Impact of Personality and Religion on Attitudes toward Alcohol among 16-18 year olds in Northern Ireland". Journal of Religion and Health 44 (3): 267–289. doi:10.1007/s10943-005-5464-z. JSTOR 27512870.
- Ford, J.; Kadushin, C. (2002). "Between Sacral Belief and Moral Community: A Multidimensional Approach to the Relationship between Religion and Alcohol among Whites and Blacks". Sociological Forum 17 (2): 255–279. doi:10.1023/A:1016089229972. JSTOR 3070326.
- Sharma, Anisha. "Draksharishta (Grape Wine) and other Ayurvedic Wines used Originally as Medicine", The Chakra News, India, 10 October 2011.
- "Access to Insight: the Panca Sila (with Pali)". Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- Loewenthal, Kate (2014). "Addiction: Alcohol and Substance Abuse in Judaism". Religions 5 (4): 973. doi:10.3390/rel5040972. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Loewenthal, Kate (2014). "Addiction: Alcohol and Substance Abuse in Judaism". Religions 5 (4): 977-978. doi:10.3390/rel5040972. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Gately, Iain (2008). Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. New York: Gotham. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-592-40464-3.