A Primer on Substance Use and Islam

A Primer on Substance Use and Islam

Mitchell Brent Mackinem (Wingate University, USA) and Christi Sporl (Wingate University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0018-7.ch002
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There is a paucity of research on the rates of alcohol and drug use among Muslim peoples. Many of the publications on substance use and abuse among Muslims tend to focus on the Qur'an's explicit prohibition against the use of mood-altering substances. Epidemiological studies of use, if they show lower use in a specific country, tend to ascribe the lower rates of use to the religious prohibitions is Islam. Such models are overly simplistic in that the perceived outcome is ascribed to a single variable: religion. This chapter will explore the value of the ecological model of substance use/abuse in understanding, assessing, and treating Muslim clients. The ecological model helps move Muslims from a unidimensional characterization to a fuller and nuanced understanding.
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Any study on alcohol and drug use among Muslims is handicapped with the relatively small amount of English language research. The existing literature ranges from high-quality large-scale studies to small opinionated pieces. A quick review reveals the diversity of academic literature on the subject. Many of these studies have been sponsored by the United Nations, with a few epidemiological studies of specific countries as is the case of the UN-sponsored study of Pakistan. There is some literature on specific countries and a specific drug, for example, Turkey and opiate use (UNODC, 2019). There are a collection of small articles dealing with small sample sizes. A study of Malaysian women admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities is an example of such literature (Wickersham et. al. 2016). Given the many smaller articles, it is challenging to attempt to create a comprehensive picture of regional and national epidemiological information. The religious perspective of Islam toward substance use and abuse appears present in many articles.

Adding to the complexity of the existing literature there are different types of Muslim communities studied. Some are Islamic nations, some are Muslim minority communities, and some focus on Muslim immigrant communities. Anyone doing research on the relationship between substance abuse within Islam is often challenged by the lack of comprehensive research and the collection of existing research with so many different foci. The eclectic nature of the research on Islam and substance use makes any comprehensive review difficult. In an attempt to organize the eclectic range of information this chapter will use the ecological model of alcohol and drug use. We hope the reader will see the diversity and complexity of substance use and abuse within the Muslim community. Understanding the diversity and complexity of the Muslim community is essential for Western providers to offer culturally relevant services.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Qur’an: The Islamic sacred book, believed to be the word of God as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel and written down in Arabic.

Eid al-Fitr: The Muslim festival marking the end of the fast of Ramadan.

Sunni: The larger of the two main branches of Islam, which differs from Shia in its understanding of the Sunnah, its conception of religious leadership, and its acceptance of the first three caliphs.

Haram: Forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law.

Wahabi: A member of a strictly orthodox Sunni Muslim sect founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–92) AU54: The in-text citation "Wahhab (1703–92)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. . It advocates a return to the early Islam of the Koran and Sunna, rejecting later innovations; the sect is still the predominant religious force in Saudi Arabia.

Hijab: A head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.

Thawab: Spiritual merit or reward that accrues from the performance of good deeds and piety.

Ramadan: The ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset.

Hadith: A collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran.

Zakat: Obligatory payment made annually under Islamic law on certain kinds of property and used for charitable and religious purposes.

Shia: One of the two main branches of Islam, followed especially in Iran, that rejects the first three Sunni caliphs and regards Ali, the fourth caliph, as Muhammad's first true successor.

Caliphs: The chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of Muhammad.

Acculturation: Assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one.

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