بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I recently wrote a post about how the medieval church considered drinking to the point of drunkness to fall under the deadly sin of gluttony.
A commenter on a message board I frequent provided some references to Bible passages in which these prohibitions are made more explicit. I’ve provided them below:
Proverbs 20:1New International Version (NIV)
20 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
Proverbs 21:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;
Proverbs 23:19-21 New International Version (NIV)
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
TIL that getting drunk was considered a sin in Medieval Christianity. Alcohol itself was considered permissible, but drinking to the point of inebriation was considered a subset of the deadly sin of gluttony. The full reddit thread on r/askhistorians can be found below, although I’ll quote the relevant parts:
Americans today (I understand ideas about alcoholism and its treatment can be quite different) tend to think of alcoholism as an addiction or even a disease. This was not so in the Middle Ages. Inebrietas–inebriety or drunkenness–was normatively a sin, a subset of the Deadly Sin of gluttony or overconsumption.
We must separate the rhetoric of preachers from the daily lives of medieval people (including, presumably, many of those preachers). An evening at a formal or informal tavern was the heart of socializing for a lot of urban people. It’s not for nothing the tavern was derided as the “chapel of the devil”; it was the secular parallel for social life to the Church and religious civic gatherings. As with today, not everyone would get drunk, and even fewer of those would get drunk so often and compulsively as to compare to modern alcoholism. And of course, the role of alcohol in the display of battle prowess and noble/royal power is well known to anyone who read Beowulf in high school….
…But in the background, and increasingly pushed by preachers and didactic authors over the 14th through 16th centuries, was the point that drunkenness inherently represented overconsumption, a focus on the material world and personal pleasure that distracted from God. It was a sin. And in both prescriptive theoretical sources and actual criminal records, medieval people knew and experienced the costs of inebriety.
In theory, drunkenness would lead to other sins. It loosened the tongue and mind, resulting in a rise to wrath. Naturally in women in particular, it heated the body and aroused it to lust. It led the drunk person to forget about others, greed. And so on. Meanwhile, coroners’ rolls from England and court records from French and German cities attest handsomely to the fights, assaults, and murders inside taverns and spilling onto the streets outside.
This is still just alcohol consumption, though. What can we say about the compulsion to drink caused by a pattern of overconsumption? First, in the medieval imagination though not in practice, pattern inebrietas was gendered heavily male. In German popular literature, there were two stock “parents who waste their family’s money” figures. The woman is the haute palate, the one who must always have the richest food, the most expensive clothing while her children go hungry and threadbare. The man, however? The man spends every night at the tavern, drinking away his children’s bread. The latter, at least, had a basis in reality. Women in early modern Germany sometimes petitioned their cities for emergency financial support or for legal living-arrangement separation from their husband, because he was ruining the family financially through drinking every coin.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Most of you reading this do not realize something of fundamental importance: your heart is buried beneath your sins. Some of you do realize this, and have come in hopes of escaping the grave which you have dug yourself into.
I will explain what I mean by the first part later, for now I’d like to address readers who feel that familiar feeling of crushing guilt and overwhelming anxiety about your hereafter; some of whom have all but lost hope in God. I will start with some basic advice which you have probably heard before (but, as the Quran says: فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَىٰ / so remind, if the reminder should benefit [87:9] ), and then I will give you a golden tip which will work 100% of the time.
If you’re familiar with the process of tawbah, then I suggest you browse through the Preliminaries for anything that catches your eye – otherwise you can more or less proceed to The Golden Tip. For those new Muslims unfamiliar with the process of tawbah, I suggest a more careful read.
I will mention a few preliminaries to get you in the right state of mind – and hopefully the right state of heart.
1. Realize you are not alone
Most people, at one point or another have felt the crushing guilt that you are currently experiencing. Most people have done something bad and felt so terrible about it, that they felt unsure whether or not Allah would forgive them. Most people have done something bad a thousand times over, and wish they would stop. You are not alone. Realize that Allah has forgiven people much worse than you. We read in Imam Zainul Abideen’s Whispered Prayer of the Repenters:
إِلـٰهِي ما أَنَا بِأَوَّلِ مَنْ عَصاكَ، فَتُبْتَ عَلَيْهِ، وَتَعَرَّضَ بِمَعْرُوفِكَ، فَجُدْتَ عَلَيْهِ، يا مُجِيبَ الْمُضْطَرِّ