Sunday, April 1, 2007

Why I Wouldn't Want to be Muslim

I am currently reading a very interesting book called A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage (and recommended by a man that knows both how to read and how to drink). As the title suggests, the book tells the history of the world through the lens of the important drinks during world history. The six that made the cut (in order of appearance) were beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.

I have learned a great many things in the book including the distinct possibility that one of my favorite Irish drinking songs may, in fact, actually be a pirate shanty (long story). I've also learned the importance of alcohol to the creation of civilization, the spread of the Roman Empire, and the subjugation of the American Indians.

Today, however, I made it through the liquor sections and into coffee. In this chapter I learned that Muslims have long been hardcore about everything. As told in the book, Muslim leaders on several occasions banned coffee by equating it to alcohol. The bans never held, primarily because alcohol and coffee have almost completely opposite effects on the consumer. Still, the bans usually lasted for a short time and included beatings of vendors and customers. It seems the point was simply to ban something that anyone at anytime could take any pleasure in.

I know what you're going to say. Christianity also has a long history of trying to ban anything people might construe as fun. Well, I agree. Growing up in a small town where some of the churches were still worked up over dancing tends to make one aware of such things. But that doesn't change my perception that Muslims (despite losing the coffee issue) have been infinitely more successful at ruining a good time.

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