Notes and Comments: Alcoholism

The Young Islam, 15th September 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 8, p. 2)

While commenting upon the cocktail habit tending at present to prevail considerably in Great Britain, the Statesman ends its remarks thus:

“Even doctors (some of them) admit that alcohol in small doses far from being harmful may do good, and who that likes the stuff will deny the satisfaction, peace of mind, and sense of virtue that a well-mixed aperitif can afford at the end of a worrying day’s work.”

Being teetotallers, we are really unable to appreciate fully the significance of these remarks. We can however understand what is meant by ‘satisfaction and peace of mind’ induced by alcoholic drinks after exhaustion, but what the Statesman means by ‘sense of virtue’ we are wholly unable to comprehend. Every­one is aware of the sense of licence and un­restraint stimulating all kinds of evil tendencies induced by alcoholic intoxicants but none has so far heard of a ‘sense of virtue’ being afford­ed by them.

The extremely damaging effects of intoxi­cants upon all systems of the body are not unfamiliar, and the medical world is too well aware to ignore them. It was due to this that the President of the British Medical Association himself uttered a strong warning to young men against the growing cocktail habit. Cirrhosis of the liver—an insidious disease due mostly to alcoholic drinks—would, he said, increase in the next ten or fifteen years and the mortality due to this cause would rise. In this country alcoholic drinks are now becoming a fashion of the day. It is high time that leaders and reformers should take special note of this growing scourge to humanity—one of the vital signs of the demoralising civilization of modern times. There is a great ignorance in the popular mind as to the evil effects of moderate doses of mild drinks. As stated above by the Statesman, it is believed that the worrying effects are counter-balanced by ‘harmless’ drinks. The medical authorities have, however, definitely established the fact that the exhilarating effects are only transitory and the fatigue ensuing after the stimulating effects have subsided is much more in degree. It has been experimented on soldiers that those abstaining totally from intoxicants can march to a longer distance with less ill-effects of fatigue than those receiving drinks of alcohol at intervals.

Most of the eminent physicians are now definitely averse to prescribing alcohol even in the course of diseases. Alcohol now does not find itself so favourite for its simulative effects among the medical experts as it used to be twenty years ago. What now stands definitely in the way of eradication of this curse of humanity is the tickle of the perverted palate and the centuries-old vicious habits.

In this connection, it may be of interest to realize what gigantic force of appeal it must have been which, with the utterance of one voice, of

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِنَّمَا الۡخَمۡرُ وَ الۡمَیۡسِرُ وَ الۡاَنۡصَابُ وَ الۡاَزۡلَامُ رِجۡسٌ مِّنۡ  عَمَلِ الشَّیۡطٰنِ فَاجۡتَنِبُوۡہُ  لَعَلَّکُمۡ  تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۹۰﴾

“O you who believe, intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the devil’s work; so shun it that you may succeed.” [The Holy Quran, 5:90],

made a whole nation addicted from centuries long to the pernicious habit go dry in a single moment. It is related that when the Quran prohibited drinks, wine flowed in the streets of Medina like water. Where every other kind of power—power of legislation, of danger to health and life—fails, faith in and surrender to His Commandants prove an effective motive­ force to wean men from the path of misery and unhappiness.