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Halal & Haram

Halal & Haram

Why Islamic Rulings on Food Exist

Ever stopped to think of it, that physically man is what he eats. Plant is absorbed by animal and animal by man? The beauty of it all is that despite one feeding on the other, each organism retains its own nature. Man eats both plant and animal and all the nourishment he gets, he gets from these sources, and still he retains his own inherent nature. That is the beauty of creation.

But there’s a hitch. Man cannot eat what he wants. He has to take wholesome food that is compatible with his system. When one eats unwholesome food it affects his health and wellbeing.  Since Islam is a holistic system, a whole way of life, it also takes into account what man should and should not eat, ensuring that he only eats wholesome food so as not only to ensure his physical health, but also his mental and spiritual health, because at the end of the day they are all more or less interconnected.

This is why God tells us again and again:

O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One, For he is to you an avowed enemy

(The Heifer:168)

O ye who believe! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you and be grateful to God if it is Him ye worship

(The Heifer: 172)

Thus whatever laws concerning food Islam lays down, it is for a reason, to preserve our spiritual and physical health. Why look at the few things we have been prohibited, when there are so many good things we have been allowed. A true believer realizes that God is Most Wise and His rules are full of wisdom. Being the Creator, He knows best way what is good for His Creation to live happily in this world and prepare for the next. So let’s see what God really prohibits us from taking:

He hath only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine. and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of God. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing the limits. Then he is guiltless, for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful

(The Heifer: 173)

Forbidden to you are carrion, blood and flesh of swine, and that which has been hallowed to other than God, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; and that which has been partly eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it duly

(The Repast:3)

That’s all God prohibits us. Everything else He permits us. He even permits us the meat of the Jews and Christians (collectively known as the People of the Book)  provided it does not go against His other commandments like the flesh of swine which Christians indulge in, but Jews avoid:

This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them

(The Repast:5)

Some scholars are of the view that while taking the meat of Jews is permissible since they mention God’s Name when they slaughter the animal like Muslims, the meats slaughtered by modern-day Christians of the West are not so as they don’t pronounce God’s Name over the slaughtered animal any longer.

Others are of the view that the Qur’an’s permission is a general one and one need not question how it is slaughtered. If one is certain that the slaughterer of the animal is a practicing Christian, it could be eaten without demur. It was in this spirit that when a companion of the Prophet named Abdullah Bin Abbas was asked about animals slaughtered by the Christian Arabs, he said: “There is no harm in them” (Muwatta). When someone asked Abu Darda, another companion of the Prophet whether he could eat the flesh of a lamb, slaughtered for the Church of St. George, which had been given to him. he answered, “O God, may You pardon us! Are they not the People of the Book, whose food is lawful for us and ours for them? He then told the person to eat it. (Tabari.)

What God has allowed, none can prohibit. This is a very basic principle of Islamic law, applicable to food as anything else. It once happened that the Prophet abstained from eating honey at the instigation of his wives. But nay, he was admonished by God Himself:

O Prophet, why do you forbid (for yourself) that which God has allowed to you, seeking to please your wives

(The Prohibition:1)

In fact the Muslims of the Prophet’s time consumed a variety of meats. The Prophet loved sheepmeat, ate chicken meat, accepted rabbit meat, allowed eating horsemeat and camel meat and although he avoided lizard’s meat, he did not prohibit it. He however forbade the eating of donkey’s meat (Saheeh Al-Bukhari). Other items of food consumed by the Prophet were cucumber and ripe dates (Tirmidhi), onions and possibly cheese (Aboo Dawood).He is also said to have been sent milk, venison and little cucumbers or mushrooms (Adab Al-Mufrad) suggesting that these too were consumed by him or his household. In fact all produce of the earth, including mushrooms, truffles, fruits and vegetables are permissible.

The Forbidden Foods

The only foods explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an are meat from animals that die of themselves, blood, pork and animals dedicated to other than God, that is, either undedicated or dedicated to other divinities or idols. However, the Prophet elaborated a bit more on the prohibited foods, forbidding all fanged beasts of prey and all birds with talons (Saheeh Muslim).  Still, there are exceptions, since one may consume such meats if driven by necessity, if the only other alternative one has is to starve:

But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing the limits. Then he is guiltless, for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful

(The Heifer: 173)

So let us see why Islam bans us from consuming certain kinds of meats.

Carrion

The first is the prohibition against eating carrion, that is animals that die of themselves. There are many ways animals can die of themselves, through disease or poison, or being bitten or gored by another animal or falling from a height to give a few examples.

So tell me would you like eating the flesh of an animal you find dead, perhaps not knowing how it died? Would you take the risk of eating a diseased animal whose internal organs could well be a breeding ground for germs of all sorts including harmful ones like the one that causes mad cow disease? Would you take the risk of eating a poisoned animal, knowing that such poison can finds it way to your own organs? Would you take the risk of eating an animal bitten to death by another, well knowing that diseases such as rabies could be transferred through a bite? Even if you are sure, the creature concerned did not die of any of these, but perhaps from a headlong long, will it still be worth the risk, knowing that the blood of the animal could have been congealed in its flesh rather than be drained out of the body, potentially containing harmful toxins?

You’d better be, because science today tells us that the carcass of a dead animal that has not been drained of its blood retains its toxins, particularly in its arterial blood, causing the flesh to become a repository for microbes.  So you will see the wisdom behind this prohibition of eating dead meat, all and all this well before modern science discovered those unseen little disease bearers known as germs through the use of the microscope.

Blood and Blood Products

The second is the prohibition against consuming blood. Throughout history men have consumed blood and blood products, little knowing the harm it could do. The English still have their black puddings made of pork blood and the African Masai drink the blood of their cattle fondly thinking it would keep them fit.

But man is not meant to drink blood. If God meant it to be so, He could have well created us as vampires. Drinking blood is for mosquitoes and vampire bats, but not for man. It goes against his nature and can harm his health. Why, because just as blood transfers nutrients absorbed by the intestines to bodily organs and muscles, it also carries harmful substances for disposal through sweat, urine and stools. Drinking or consuming such blood through other means could lead to our contracting countless diseases in both the short and long term, prominent among these being hyper-uremia leading to kidney failure and hyper-ammoniaemia leading to hepatic coma. So serious are its implications!

Islamic Method of Slaughter

It is based on these two principles of not consuming dead meat and blood that the Islamic method of slaughtering animals has its basis. For one thing, the animal concerned must be alive at the time of slaughtering so as to ensure it is fit for human consumption, for another, it has to be drained of its blood after slaughtering.  Combined with this is another very important requirement of the faith, that the animal concerned be slaughtered in God’s Name.

To start with, one must first recite the formula Bismillah (In the name of God) before getting on with slaughtering the creature by swiftly slitting its throat by cutting its carotid and jugular vein. This ensures that when we take life, we take it only with God’s Permission and when we do so we make certain that the animal does not suffer needlessly but is put to death as quickly as possible. Why because severing these blood vessels to and from the heart to the brain sends the animal into a state of natural anaesthesia so that it dies a painless death. Even animals slaughtered in the proper manner before they die of some other cause are also lawful as we gather from the story of the handmaiden of Ka’b who was herding some sheep in a mountain near Medina. One of the sheep was about to die and so she went over to it and slaughtered it with a stone. The Prophet was asked about it and he said: “There is no harm in it, so eat it” (Muwatta).

However Islam does not limit meats to domesticated animals, but also permits game meat obtained by the chase. Wild animals such as deer, rabbits or waterfowl could be hunted by bow and arrow – and in today’s context a gun – after reciting Bismillah or by means of hunting animals such as hounds and hawks, again by reciting Bismillah and letting them loose. Game taken alive must however be duly slaughtered in the prescribed manner. As God says: “Lawful unto you are things good and pure; and what ye have taught your animals of the chase (to catch) in the manner directed to you by God. Eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the Name of God over it” (The Repast:4).

This was further elaborated by the Prophet  who said: “If you let loose (with God’s Name) your tamed dog after a game and it hunts it, you may eat it, but if the dog eats of (that game) then do not eat it because the dog has hunted it for itself”. A companion asked: “Sometimes I send my dog for hunting and find another dog with it”. The Prophet said: “Do not eat the game for you have mentioned God’s Name only on sending your dog and not the other dog”(Saheeh Al-Bukhari).

However we know that the Prophet even allowed exceptions for meats people were doubtful about with regard to the recitation of the Bismillah. It once happened that some people who had recently become Muslims came and said to the Prophet: “People bring us meat and we do not know whether they have mentioned the name of God over it or not. Shall we eat of it or not?’ The Prophet replied, ‘Mention the name of God (over it) and eat” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari).

Creatures of the sea are permitted without exception. The Qur’an clearly says of seafood:

And He it is Who has subjected to you the sea, that ye may eat thereof flesh, fresh and tender, and bring forth from it ornaments to wear

(The Bee:14)

Further unlike quadrapeds, sea creatures do not have to be slaughtered in the prescribed form and could even be consumed if they die of themselves, for the Prophet said of the sea: “Its water is pure, and what dies in it is lawful food” (Abu Dawood). Thus all sorts of fish and shellfish such as crabs, lobsters, prawns could be eaten once they are dead without any qualms whatsoever.It once happened that a huge fish known as Anbar, perhaps a kind of whale got washed on to the shore and the Prophet’s companions subsisted themselves on it for several days. The giant creature was dead when it was found and the Prophet not only permitted eating it, but even ate some of it himself.

But there is one very noteworthy exception of a creature that cannot be eaten by any means, even if slaughtered in the prescribed manner, and that is the pig.

Flesh of Pig and reasons for its Prohibition

The Qur’an on more than one occasion prohibits the flesh of swine and even gives the reason for it:

Say, “I do not find in that which was revealed to me (anything) forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine, for indeed, it is impure

(The Cattle: 145)

It is not only the Qur’an that prohibited pork, the Bible did too on the same grounds:.

The flesh of the swine you shall not eat, and their carcass you shall not touch. They are unclean to you

(Leviticus 11:8)

Thus good Christians ought to avoid pork as Jesus did. But Paul would have none of it. He saw no reason why Christians should follow the Old Laws and declared: “Let no one pass judgement on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or Sabbath. These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). This is why to this day, even observant Christians see nothing wrong in eating pork, though it was prohibited by God Himself in very strict terms.

So good Muslims avoid eating pork because God had prohibited them from doing so and because as He Himself says it is unclean. Though there was no way to prove this in the olden days, we today know that pork is the most filthiest of meats, harbouring parasites of various descriptions, germs and worms that can pass on to humans and cause numerous diseases.

Why, because the pig is a born scavenger. That’s what it was created for, to cleanse the earth of the filth and faeces of the rest of creation. Such is their filthy nature that no matter how clean the environments in which they are raised may be, they prefer to wallow in mud and filth, and if they cannot eat the excreta of other creatures, they will gladly eat their own. To feast on such a scavenger itself goes against the grain of all that is good and noble in man, all that is pure in him.

But it’s not just the spiritual impurity pork imparts to one’s soul. The pig’s body is the ideal breeding ground for a host of diseases. Scientists know for a fact today that the pig is a great host for parasites and a mixing pot for viruses which can play a role in developing more dangerous strains of such viruses. One such germ pigs frequently harbour is the antibiotic resistant staph bacterium.  Studies how that in the US despite its ‘clean’ pig rearing practices, almost 50 percent of pigs  harbour these bacteria, which in the US alone is responsible for killing nearly 20,000 every year.

A more direct threat from consuming pork comes from the trichinella worm. The eggs of this parasite which may number several thousands are frequently found in the muscles of the pig and could easily enter the human body through pork consumption, leading to a fatal disease known as Trichinellosis. As frightening is the Tapeworm, another parasite transmitted through pork that clings on to one’s intestines and draws its nutrition at the expense of its human host. The tapeworm is no doubt the scariest creature to dwell in the human body. It is several metres long with a body like several strips of tapes stuck together and has over twenty hooks on its head, with which it clings to the intestinal wall.  That’s not all, its larvae seep into the bloodstream to settle in a bodily organ such as the liver or the eye, where it forms cysts.  It could even find its way to the brain and cause a kind of epilepsy, a frightening condition medically known as neurocysticercosis.

As if that were not enough, pork is a very fattening meat. It contains very high levels of cholesterol and lipids which can adversely affect human health, causing strokes and heart attacks. Thus there is much wisdom behind the prohibition of pork which only now the scientific community is coming to realize. Need I say more?

Just as we are prohibited from consuming pig, we are also admonished not to become like them, eating anything and everything we come across. Overeating especially is strongly disapproved in Islam. In fact gluttony is almost a sin in Islam.

As the Prophet said:

A man does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach.  It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat enough to keep him alive.  But if he must do more than that, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his air

(Ibn Majah)

The Ban on Alcohol

And now to that mother of all evils God bans till the end times, and by this I mean alcohol of course. Let’s hear what God has to say about it:

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling (dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination- of Satan handiwork; eschew them that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God”

(The Repast: 90-91)

His Prophet went on to declare:

Alcohol is the mother of all evils

(Ibn Majah)

He once told his followers: “Anyone who drinks intoxicants will be made to drink the mud of khabal”.  His companions asked: “O Messenger of God, what is the mud of Khabal?’  He replied: “The juice of the people of Hell” (Saheeh Muslim).

However the prohibition did not come down at once. In the Jahilliyah or Age of Ignorance before the coming of Islam, the Arabs like many other peoples were habitual drinkers. When the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, some of his companions, sorry that many of the townsfolk indulged in liquor, ruining both their God-given health and hard-earned wealth, asked him about it.

In response to their query, a verse was revealed that constituted the first of a series of revelations leading to the final and conclusive ban:

They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and (yet, some) benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit”

(The Heifer: 219)

Although this verse did not clearly prohibit alcohol clearly it indicated that there more harm than good in alcohol and implied that it should be avoided. Some of the companions, learning of this verse abstained from taking alcohol from that day onwards. Others continued with the habit regardless as they did not take it as an outright ban. One evening, it happened that a companion named Abdur-Rahman Ibn Auf invited some of his fellows who had taken alcohol and as the time came for the evening prayer they stood up to pray. The prayer leader who was also drunk made an error in the recitation of the Qur’an. Then came the revelation of the verse:

O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say
(The Women:43)

This verse prohibited the consumption of liquor for the duration of prayer times, though the assumption was that at other periods, it was permissible. With this second verse many more of the Prophet’s companions gave up the habit reasoning that what good can there be in something that harms one’s very Prayer.  Others continued with their old ways, till one day one Uthman Ibn Malik invited a few friends for a meal, after which liquor was served. They then started reciting poetry as was a popular Arab custom then. When Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas’ turn came, he went a bit too far, reciting a few lines in which he belittled the Ansars of Medina who had in the first place welcomes the Meccan migrants with open arms. At this an Ansari youth became so vexed that he threw a bone at him, inflicting a wound on the reciter’s head. When Saad complained to the Prophet, he beseeched God to grant him a clear cut command regarding alcohol. In response to his prayer came the following verses from God completely prohibiting alcohol along with gambling and other sins:

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling (dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination- of Satan handiwork; eschew them that ye may prosper.  Satan’s plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with Intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God. Will you then desist?

(The Repast: 90-91)

So God in his wisdom banned liquor in stages, firstly by revealing the evils of alcohol, secondly by prohibiting it at prayer times and finally when the time was ripe for a complete transformation declaring it absolutely prohibited. So complete was the ban that liquor was spilled out of their bottles by the townsfolk in respond to God’s Final Verdict.

But Islam did not stop at that. It penalized drinking alcohol with corporal punishment, with as much as forty lashes of the whip for the offender, the only case of punishment for eating or drinking something not permitted by religion. When you eat pork for instance it’s up to you and God to judge you, but the implications of drinking alcohol go beyond that as it has adverse effects on not only one’s health, but also the larger society. This is why the Prophet said of the drunkard ‘beat him’ (Mishkat Al Masabih) and they were beaten with sticks or sandals (Bukhari, Ahmad).

When the first Caliph Abu Bakr was faced with addressing the problem of drinking, he asked the Prophet’s companions about it and though they were unsure guessed that the offender ought to receive forty lashes which he then imposed for the punishment of drinking (Baihaqi). However it is to the credit of Islam that it liberated people from the scourge of alcoholism through religious conviction rather than by force of law, since if it were merely a law, people would tend to imbibe it on the sly as they did in America during the Prohibition era. You only have to look at Muslims even in largely non-Muslim countries who almost to a man avoid alcohol as if it were rank poison.

But if you think it’s only Muslims who abhor alcohol, you’re sadly mistaken. All faiths do, except Judaism which has even made it into a ritual. Jews to this day give their newly circumcised baby boys a bit of wine to allay their pain and take it without any qualms later in life in spite of what the Bible says about it:

Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder 

(Proverbs 23:31-32)

Good Christians likewise are expected to eschew such strong drinks, as we read in Ephesians 5:18: “Be not drunk with wine”. This is why Protestant Christians took a bold stand against it, culminating in America’s nationwide ban on liquor in its peaceful inter-war years. But it was not only religion that had a say in the ban, it was also reason, because both the government and public saw its ill effects on society.

They saw how alcoholism increased crime and led to a rise in domestic violence, how it made shells of once sane men. And mind you this came about by an amendment to the US Constitution itself, the 18th amendment which ushered in what is popularly called ‘The Prohibition Era’ from 1919 to 1933. Women especially campaigned vigourously for the ban. They saw how drunkards beat up their wives and even killed their children. They even formed the Women’s Christian Temperance Union led by a great woman named Frances Willard to tackle the problem, lobbying for local laws restricting alcohol and creating an anti-alcohol educational campaign that reached into nearly every schoolroom in the nation.

Although liberals are quick to argue that Prohibition failed, this is far from the truth. It cut overall alcohol consumption by as much as 50 percent during the 1920s when it was in full force – the rest who took to it was illicit liquor provided by bootleggers like Al Capone – showing that it did socialize a large proportion of the US population in temperate habits. It’s a pity the ban was revoked by yet another amendment to the constitution, or else there would not have been so much crime in the US as we find today.

Alcohol – The Devil’s Handiwork

Yes, whether we like it or not, the fact is that alcohol is a scourge and has been so since time immemorial; the devil’s handiwork to lead man away from a noble, decent life. If it’s not the work of Satan, whose else’s is it? Who made man make a filthy liquor out of wholesome fruit, turning fresh grapes and other lovely fruits God has blessed us with into a foul drink that smells so bad and prompts one to act like a madman as if touched by the devil himself ? Yes, I ask you, which fool discovered this poison that kills your brain, blurs your vision and sense of reason and costs countless human lives and causes millions of broken homes throughout the world, even as we speak?

The least one can say about indulgence in liquor is that it’s a sign of a decadent society where on the one hand you have a licentious hedonistic upper class that is a world unto itself, caring not for anybody else and wasting away their miserable, purposeless lives; and on the other, a deprived and depressed class of destitutes who take to it to escape from life’s harsh realities, unaware that it is just another narcotic, a temporary palliative that is only bound to make that reality a harder one. Escapism is no way to cast aside one’s poverty, but this is what happens when liquor is freely available.

The worst one can say about it is that it’s a silent killer. It’s a toxin that kills you and a narcotic that wastes your life. Alcohol is no less addictive than other narcotics, only that it is more freely available due to the ease in manufacturing it and its being looked upon as a lucrative source of revenue for governments through the heavy excise duties it invites.  Over time even moderate drinkers can become hopeless alcoholics. They might start with a bit and end up as slaves of it like any narcotic. That’s how all drunks start life!

Such addiction, needless to say has a heavy social cost. Alcohol does not come cheap, and when one is addicted to it and imbibes it frequently you can only imagine how it tends to drain away one’s monies, leading to financial problems. Leave aside the direct cost of liquor, take the opportunity cost, how much productive time to earn a livelihood goes waste due to drink and its hangovers.

Alcoholics also lose the purpose of life. They suffer from terrible depressions and experience frightening hallucinations distorting their sense of reality. They become delusional, paranoid, melancholic and even suicidal, threatening the lives of not just themselves, but all those around them. That’s not all. It kills one’s spirituality, making miserable creatures of once God-fearing people. Little doubt it earns the Wrath of God. After all, would the Creator love to see the noblest of his Creation stoop to such a low level, lower than even the beasts of the earth, because this is what happens when men drink, they let their basest animal instincts take hold. But hold on, animals at least have some sense which they never lose sight of, but man, when he engages in liquor, loses all sense, becoming even lower than the animal.  When he walks, he staggers, when he speaks he slurs. His breath smells bad and his eyes are blood-shot, just like the devil would love men to be, the lowest of the low, fallen from grace, a disgrace to mankind and the rest of creation.

Alcohol – A Poison

But that’s not all. Did anybody tell you that alcohol is a poison? If nobody did, I would’nt be surprised, because it’s not common knowledge, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Yes, alcohol is a deadly toxin that kills your brain cells slowly but surely. Alcohol leads to permanent brain damage since it damages the subventricular region of the brain where new brain cells are created to sustain brain function and protect against tumours and neurodegenerative diseases. It also scrambles messages to the brain and leads to problems in thinking clearly, controlling movements and storing memories.

It scrambles messages to the brain and leads to problems in thinking clearly, controlling movements and storing memories. This is why alcoholics lose their sense of reality and are unable to even tell the place they are in or what time of day it is or even recognize the face of a loved one. They suffer from severe memory loss that gets only worse over time and gradually lose their very identity, the very trait that makes them what they are and give them their sense of reality. When it robs man of his identity, what more does it need to deprive him of?

But let’s go a bit more. Alcoholics don’t just lose their identity, they also lose their appearance. They look haggard due to its toxic effects and suffer from malnutrition and general lack of health because they are careless about what they eat. They often suffer from bad teeth, why, because they cannot even brush their teeth at night before going to sleep. The alcohol in the palates that had just an hour or so ago relished in the liquor are soon acted upon by bacteria, eating into their enamel and causing tooth decay. They also suffer from bad eyesight because alcohol damages the optic nerves so vital for clear vision.

There’s more to come. Alcohol hampers their ability to build new muscles after a tiring day so that they don’t bounce back to health the next day. It kills their sperm and leaves limp their penis, which is the only thing it really sobers down! Alcoholics indulge in sex crimes, not because of a higher libido, but because of a senseless passion to do the craziest things, just like the tendency to run over a pedestrian while drunk driving. Alcoholics are also more susceptible to falling, resulting in hemorrhaging in the head and broken bones.

The toll it takes on one’s physical health does not end here. That’s only the beginning. Alcohol consumption leads to severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies with ailments like anaemia and beriberi being the more manifest aspects of such deficiencies. Alcohol contributes to a deficiency of vitamin A which is needed for good vision, to regulate the immune system and for bone growth. It also burns up vitamin B especially Thiamin so important for nerve function, to maintain healthy nerve cells as well as red blood cells. The loss of Thamin due to alcohol consumption leads to irreversible brain damage including Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome found predominantly in alcoholics. It also interferes with intake of folate which helps produce and maintain new cells. It causes a loss of calcium in the body by increasing urinary calcium excretion leading to osteoporosis. Calcium by the way is needed not only for bone development, but also for the secretion of vital hormones and enzymes and for transmission of messages through the nervous system. This is why, over time, alcohol wrecks our very being, transforming our once beautiful bodies to worn-down shells of our former selves and emptying our minds so that we lose our heads. It ages us like no other poison.

That’s not all. Cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis are well known outcomes of alcoholism. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a host of cancers caused by alcohol. In fact, alcohol causes as many as seven forms of cancer. Recent research has shown that alcohol can cause cancers of the breast, colon, liver, larynx, oesophagus and rectum. It is also likely to cause skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Alcoholics are also susceptible to chest infections such as Pneumonia and Pulmonary Tuberculosis due to their weakened immune systems. But did you know alcohol consumption could also increase your risk of stroke and heart attacks?

Today researchers have found that drinking just one glass of wine a day can trigger a stroke, heart failure or dementia. Even moderate consumption of liquor increased the risk of an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. This affects heart rhythm and increases the risk of blood clots forming, raising the risk of stroke and heart failure, not to mention Alzheimer’s disease by reducing blood flow to the brain. In fact alcohol today kills as many as 3.3 million people worldwide each year due to drink driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse, and a multitude of diseases and disorders, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and violence combined, according to the World Health Organization.That actually translates into one death every 10 seconds.

Alcohol’s Toll on Society

Let alone its toll on you, it also takes its toll on society as well. As you know all humans have a sense of shame, they have an inhibitory faculty wired into their brains which prevents them from doing things they know to be wrong. For instance using foul language or exposing one’s private parts. When one is drunk, such inhibitions cease, so that one sees nothing wrong in answering a call of nature in full view of people rather than find one’s way to the privy to relieve oneself. They become shameless, trespassing the bounds of accepted norms; men sexually harass women or cast vulgar remarks while women lose their reservations and let their passions take hold, giving themselves to any man they come across with absolutely no idea what they’re getting into.

But that’s the mild side of it. There’s much worse. A high percentage of rapes takes place when one or both partners are drunk. It’s higher with cases of incest, where almost all cases of such unnatural relations like between father and daughter are the result of alcohol. Indeed, a major reason for the spread of STDs like AIDS is alcoholism.

Why because people lose their restraint and freely indulge in sex, taking no precaution as to who they are sleeping with and having no idea what a contraceptive is in their state of madness. Just one such rash act can make you suffer a lifetime. Suppose just for once you go for a binge, and in that state lose your sense of self control and in that one moment of lunacy commit a sex crime or engage in a sex act that causes you to contract a terrible disease, would not it last you a lifetime, so that your entire life suffers because of it?

So ask yourself, would you still want to take a poison? Because that’s what alcohol really is! The only poison commonly indulged in and even advertised for public consumption!