Friday, February 3, 2012

Alcohol and Islam

I am kinda praying none of my inlaws read this, as I will be revealing a bit of my pre-Islam past, but I think I have to make the point, and the point is too important to care about what they might think, like oooh, awwww, this bad girl and alcohol, or, yikes, she used to go dancing.

For any Muslims who might read this, and say, you are revealing sins, I am not bragging about them. I am relating the lesson these events taught me, and to leave certain events out is to avoid the lesson. The truth hurts. I am over it, think the lesson is more important than what anybody thinks.

I want all non-Muslims to know why Islam doesn't allow us to drink, and how some Muslims come to reject that and all.

My parents were never alcoholics. In fact, I rarely saw them drunk. And if my Mom happened to drink too much, she was a funny drunk. My father usually drank in moderation.

My family has a French heritage and we often made our own wine. I tasted beer when I was 2. All children love the taste of malt, and had wine with dinner on occasion when I turned 8.

As a teenager I fell in with an intellectual, more sophisticated crowd who loved fine dining and could afford it because we all had good jobs and one was in the food industry. Cocktails were our thing. And I still had a nightcap with my Dad before bed.

Note: my brother was killed by a drunk driver. My parents did not let that effect their drinking. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. Not everyone who drinks has problems.

Doctors have even proven that 1 glass of red wine is good for the heart.

I also had another set of friends, and even though we weren't of legal age in our country, we got into nightclubs because a. we were all pretty, especially blended together, and nightclubs love pretty girls, b. one of my friends was a professional dancer [you've probably seen her in a music video or 2 and didn't even know it] and c. some of the bouncers were sons of friends of my father and so they let us in even when we forgot our fake IDs. They also made sure nothing bad ever happened to us, and in case my inlaws read this, just because a girl likes dancing doesn't mean she slept with a dozen guys or something. I was too young for that then, anyways.

My friends sometimes got too drunk to drive home, but no one ever got sick, or died or anything. We had fun. We took care of eachother, so no one ever did anything too stupid.

So when I converted to Islam I just didn't get it. The Qu'ran says there is some good in wine, but more evil. But obviously, the evil of it had never really effected me. I wasn't an alcoholic, and even if I was still drinking now, probably wouldn't be one.

I made a vow to change this habit anyways. I don't like people who pick and choose what parts of their holy books pertain to them.

I remember I rang up the intellectual set, when I made a serrious intention to start practicing Islam, and made a date for us all to meet up for one last hurrah cocktail in one of the fanciest cocktail lounges in our city.

I remember I got dressed in a turquoise pleated blue chiffon floorlength gown, with a matching turquoise sweater worn underneath, and a gold hijab over my hair. At the last minute, before ducking into the lounge, I felt a twinge of guilt, and took the scarf off, even though all my friends were already used to seeing me wear it.

My father had already told me I couldn't stay at the house anymore if I wanted to dress like a Muslim, and I was serrious about wearing the hijab enough to have known I didn't have choice to go back home, but I didn't want people to get confused and see a Muslim woman sipping a martini at the bar.

I remember I ordered a drink called "the titanic" that had a champagne icecube.

It was my last drink.

It wasn't very good.

I wish I had ordered a glass of good red wine, or a shot of tequila, or real champagne.

I remember that they tasted good to me. Yes, sometimes, I do miss the taste of red wine.

I also met my other friends at a new nightspot. To the confusion of the Christian Lebanese bouncer. Confused, because I didn't take off my scarf this time. I sat inside with my group of old friends and said what would be a real goodbye to some of them. I didn't drink. I didn't dance (though I wanted to, I enjoy dancing). I took a photo with them.

Funny, when I see that photo now, about the crowd that is surrounding that new Muslim girl, only one of them can I count as someone I still talk to.

I tried to keep in touch with them. I respected their lifestyle and didn't want to disown them because of mine. But we went different places, and they couldn't seem to have fun if it didn't involve drinking of some kind, even a lunch date.

I still didn't think drinking was bad.

And I was married. I married a Muslim man. I loved him. He loved me. We should have been the happiest people in the world.

But he drank.

He didn't drink in public. No one knew it but me.

No one saw the empty cans that filled our kitchen cupboards where I'd try to hide them when we had guests over. He wouldn't let me take them out. They were his sin, not mine.

Eventually they got to be too many, and I couldn't find space for them in the cupboards anymore, and they filled the living room/majlis.

He tried to take out one garbage bag of cans every night but he drank more than he was taking out.

I began to know he had a problem but he insisted he could stop if he wanted to. He didn't like to stay out too late anywhere though. He had to get home to drink.

He couldn't work properly either, and money became a problem.

In our home we had no marriage. He hated his sin, so he couldn't let me be around it. I shouldn't have wanted to be with him anyway in that state, but I was new to Islam and had no close family anymore, and no friends. He was the only person in my world.

And yet, I learned to live apart from him.

It was as if life my life outside the house were an act, and my home became a prison.

The cans and bottles littered the living room. I gave up on trying to hide them and deal with them, and just kept my bedroom a private space. I stopped cooking. There was no room for my food in that fridge among the beer cans. I started eating take out. Religiously.

I figured if he saw what a mess our life had become he'd change.

He just said we couldn't have guests over anymore.

And we didn't.

I don't know when I stopped loving him the same way. I always, ALWAYS, loved something, but the pain of being a ghost in my own life got to be too much.

He slept in the hallway because I was trying to be a practicing Muslim and he couldn't pray while he was drunk so he didn't want to be something unclean near me, someone who was trying to be clean. I don't think I would have cared.

Sometimes, I would sneak to sleep beside him when he had passed out because I missed the man I had loved who had disapeared and was too sick for me to help him.

I wanted to leave because of all the rights I had given up just to be with him when he was like this.

He knew he was hurting me and we fought over it. I kicked him, hit him, bit him. And he hated himself even more for what had happened to me, and so drank more.

I just couldn't understand why he couldn't stop, and he was a born muslim, and I grew up with alcohol my whole life, and I could.

He wasn't a violent drunk. Only once did he ever hurt me, and that was while he pretty out of it. I tried to be in the same room as him, and he didn't want me around while he was drinking, and so we fought, and he pulled me to my room by my hair.

I hurt him alot worse though. He has scars on his body from my nails.

Then there came the point when I couldn't leave. He was my husband still to everybody we knew, and he was sick. We weren't really together inside the home.

I just needed to know he would be alive in the morning.

I was scared he would die in his sleep or something.

Then one day, I did leave though. When I went, I didn't know I would be going. But once I was gone, breathing the air of... something.

I still wanted the life I had back home, but I couldn't deal with it anymore. I told one of my friends. Her mother drank too much, so I felt safe confinding my secret.

When I left, one Ramadan, he decided to change. He stopped drinking. He got healthy again, alhamdulilah.

Then he wanted me to go back to the life I had wanted with him before I had grown in my religion independently, and gone through so many horrible awful things, and learned to live a life seperate from him, even while I was living with him.

I was too scared to, at first, and then we realized...

We couldn't go back. We weren't the same people anymore.

If he reads this now, or anyone who ever knew him, don't hate him for being sick. I don't. I truly don't.

But I hate the alcohol.

And I am only writing the sins we had together so people will know how evil it is.

It took away years. It made me old.

It might have done worse to him, I don't know, but it wrecked me. I am still recovering.

I am the girl that misses the taste of red wine, but I know the evil now. It truly broke my heart and destroyed everything that I wanted once upon a lifetime. I am thankful we never had children and subjected them to that. The pain of what we went through still brings me to tears everytime I think about it.

So I am one of those people who never hurt themselves with alcohol. It had brought fun, laughter, education, friendship, and memories into my life.

But it took away a life I had lived even more so, destroying me almost utterly when I stopped for the first time away from it, to realize what I had lost, and who I had become, for better or worse.

Islam says there is some good in alcohol, but even more evil, so it is for the Muslims to refrain.

So please understand, all my non Muslim friends in Oman, that I still respect you and your choices, when I decline an invitation to have dinner with you if I know you are going to be drinking. There's an evil in it, a potential wretched, destructive evil, that even if all of us are personally safe from it, I cannot abide to accept its presence anywhere near myself and those I care about.


Aliyah said...

woow. great article OPNO. alhumdulillah that u got away from all this. may Allah increase our iman more and more.

sofness said...

the funny thing is I think Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't drink. sweet!

Expatmummy said...

Sounds like it is as well you don't drink, that is quite a high degree of violence!

Stylish Muslimah said...

Wow what a touching story, thanks for posting. I hope that you two are back together now or that you've found someone else :)

Salaam x

meg said...

I'm a non-Muslim, and I just recently quit drinking because of the negative effect it had on my life. It should be treated as a drug, because that is what it is. Sure, it's fun to have some drinks, be social and relax, but in the long term, it can have destructive effects on your body and your health. I've been reading an English translation of the Qur'an and the wisdom inside is amazing, beautiful, and true. The benefits of alcohol sure don't outweigh the drawbacks though.

HijabRockers said...

=( Although I had never drank alcohol in my life, I could feel the pain in ur writing.

When Allah forbid something, there's always a reason behind it even if we couldn't see it (because our knowledge is limited. Just the tiniest fragment of Allah's knowledge).

Thank you for writing this. I wish for the best in your life. Aamiin...

Anonymous said...

Lots of things (everything?) contain more evil than good - money, nuclear energy, political power...The trick is to take the good and avoid the evil.


Anonymous said...

You're a very courageous woman. The past was fate. Now you live such an exciting life. :) All the best.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a first you seemed to be glamorising the entire club scene/drinking/lifestyle you used to have..and if someone stopped reading half way they wouldn't be sent a good message..but reading on its clear that this issue has deeply affected you. thanks for sharing I'm sure it has helped people in more ways then u think.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Aliyah: Alhamdulilah, alhamdulilah, ahamdulilah:)

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

sofness: Oh, I didn't even notcie the photo:)

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

expatmummy: I was never violent when drinking, lol, but yeah. I do have issues when it comes to anger. That is something I am still currently working on.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Stylish Muslima: Thank you. Alhamdulilah my family is safe and happy and healthy now:)

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Meg: That's what I have learnt. I originally quit for religious reasons but my opinion has changed from knowing about the negative effects.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

HijabRockers: Agreed, and thank you.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Anon Biohazard: I used to think that but now I know, prevention is better than waiting for the cure.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Anon: LOL, exciting? Well, enjoyable at least;) thank you.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Last Anon: that's what I wanted to portray, how quickly things can change with alcohol.

MJ said...

I love your description of the evil in alcohol. I also have seen this evil spirit, that is alcohol. How incredibly wise are those words of Islam, how true. And the longer one abstains, the farther away you get from it, the more you realize the destruction it has on people and society. The knowledge comes with time. You get a different perspective when you opt out of the culture of alcohol. And the alcohol of the last 200 years, the distilled spirits,& the stronger beer and wine, are very very different from the fermented drinks that people consumed for most of civilization. I think it is a great gift to live life sober and present. To not be a part of the culture of alcohol. Wonderful article!!

rasharash said...

thanks for sharing.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Amazing piece. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal with us. I am happy that you and your husband got through this trial. You're one strong woman! Alhamdulillah.

I wish some of my friends would start to realise the evil of alcohol but I fear that I would sound like a preacher if I tell them what they do is unIslamic and hazardous to their spiritual and mental health. Nothing hurts more than seeing your loved ones hurt themselves.

May Allah swt give us the strength to be steadfast in our deen.

shahid shamim said...

Assalaamoalikum to everyone here. Sister your story is sad but at the same time very inspiring . I have never touched wine or anything like that becoz of my parent. my friends tried many times but i think allah always pulled me back . Eventhough i see them drinking everysingle person in the room nd sadly muslims too, i never got this feeling of even trying it one time . I have seen nice guys transforming into beasts nd start fights jst becoz of this , that demotivates me too. Whatever in islam is forbidden has a reason behind so never question the almighty allah .
I wrote too much but it jst the fact that i recently read something really amazing nd knowledgeble.

Thank you sister
Jazakallah khair .