The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Genuine Answer

A few posts ago I asked what I called a genuine question about Islam's view on heroin, given the fact that the poppy is a staple crop in Afghanistan. I am grateful to Devin for this informative reply, that he sent me by email. I use it with his permission.

He writes:-
I don't believe heroin is explicitly forbidden in the Quran or early
Islamic law, but my understanding is that intoxicants are forbidden to
Muslims under the supposition that the Prophet spoke the way he did
because he figured you'd be clever enough to figure out what he meant.
As I recall, the Taliban was pretty gung-ho about poppy eradication
and had eliminated a majority of the country's heroin production
before it fell. In fact, it's been argued that the impact of that
program was one of the reasons your government and mine were so
enthusiastic about getting rid of them.

However, Sharia (Islamic law) is not meant to stand in the way of
Muslims, but to lead them towards a righteous life. For instance, if
a Muslim owns a pizzeria, his customers will want pepperoni. It is
permissible for him to deal in pork, under those circumstances,
provided that he donates all the money he makes from the sale of
unclean foods to charity (not all of his income, just what he makes
specifically from those products). Similarly, if you're a farmer in
Afghanistan and your options are to grow poppies like the warlord
wants, to be shot or driven off by the warlord for not growing
poppies, or to run off into the hills and starve or become a bandit or
a thug, the correct thing to do in Sharia is to grow poppies.

Further, Afghanistan is an Islamic country in much the way the US is
a Christian one (I think Britain is more ambivalent about religion in a
lot of ways). Most of the population will definitely tell you, for
sure, that's their religion. But that doesn't mean they live their
lives the same way you reconstruct the life of a follower of that
religion from reading about the religion. Islam and opium are two
parts of the culture of Afghanistan, just as Christianity and debt are
in the US, for all that the Bible nominally forbids usury. I don't
think we can even consider it hypocritical; there are certainly enough
contradictory elements of our respective cultures.