Ask A Muslim: Fighting the Urge to Drink

Ask A Muslim: Fighting the Urge to Drink

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By Maimoona Harrington

What do you do when you feel urged to drink because it’s such a staple in the modern world? I am asking as a Muslim myself.

Trying to assimilate with set limitations and following our faith is a challenge indeed. In my own personal life, I have been in situations where friends and co-workers are drinking around me. In these personal or work related social gatherings, it becomes hard to explain why you do not drink. Some do feel the urge to drink because they want to. Some feel peer pressure or feel the risk of being labeled as conservative or anti-social.

Before I go any further, I would like to use diet as a comparison analogy. What do we do when we are on a diet and have to attend a party or dinner with family or friends? We try to control our cravings and urge to not eat that one piece of cake, or candy. We control, because it’s for our own good. Our physical fitness is more important to us than eating that one piece of cake. Within my own social circle, I have to constantly fight the urge of avoiding unhealthy food as our gatherings are always food centered.

Living in the 21st century, how do we deal with this staple and urge to drink? Try comparing the diet analogy with faith. While you are trying to control the urge to not eat unhealthy food for your physical fitness, you also try to control the urge of not drinking for your spiritual fitness.

We are all different, we fight with our conscience in our own ways. We all know it’s bad to lie so we try not to lie but, in those instants, when we do lie, how we deal with our conscious is our own fight. However forbidden or a staple, how to practice your faith is strictly our own choice. If we desire or choose to drink, then regardless of being a Muslim or not will not matter. So the choice is ours. If we know our limitations, then we learn to control ourselves to stop that urge.

While getting views from both liberal and conservative friends on the topic , I received this response: “ We are captains of our ships and have to take ownership of our decisions. It’s a matter of your moral and religious compass. Only your willpower to NOT cross that line will help you overcome the desire.”

As individuals we have to educate ourselves foremost and better understand why alcohol is forbidden in our religion. Once we understand the reasons and agree with them, we will be better equipped to fight the urge.

Besides faith, there are many other reasons to not drink. Think of it as a way to our health and wellness. Some people develop serious allergies with drinking, some gain weight, some do not like the smell. We can also educate and explain in our social circles, besides faith it’s also ethically and culturally inappropriate to drink.

Get a non-alcoholic drink when you are at social gatherings where others are drinking. I have done it so many times. No one will ask what you drinking as long as you have a drink in your hand, and you are enjoying yourself. Nevertheless change your social circle if you can’t explain or feel pressured.

Our own assurance, understanding and control is the key to fight the urge. Living our life on our own values and terms is a choice we make and live up to those values and terms is the price we pay.

Note: I am not a religious scholar. I tried to answer this question with the best of my knowledge and understanding of Islam as a Muslim. 

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