A grapevine and a cannabis plant are depicted side-by-side on a bas-relief from a ruined Roman temple at Baalbek in Lebanon’s fertile Bekaa Valley. One of the world’s sweet spots for growing cannabis, this region is also known for its fine wines. It is a place where wine and hashish mix geographically as well as culturally.
Poets and thinkers in the Muslim world have long debated the virtues and pitfalls of alcohol and marijuana. An epic poem written by Muhammad Ebn Soleiman Foruli, a sixteenth-century Turkish poet from Baghdad, portrays a dialectical battle between wine and hashish. The two inebriants engage in an allegorical fencing match as the poet describes the euphoric properties of both substances and their consequences, a subject much discussed among Muslim scholars. Foruli viewed wine as the drink of the rich, “while hashish,” he said, “is a friend of the poor, the Dervishes and the men of knowledge.”
One of the outstanding features of hashish was its inexpensiveness, which made the resinous herb accessible to nearly anyone desirous of the joy and repose that it may confer. Large numbers of Muslims used cannabis because, unlike alcohol, it was not expressly forbidden under Koranic law. Islam is the only major religion that banned booze, while cannabis remained a subject of theological dispute among Muslim intellectuals…
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Originally published by Project CBD at “Alcohol & The Endocannabinoid System“. Reprinted with permission.