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Religion and drugs

Many religions have beliefs about drug use; these vary greatly, with some traditions placing the ritual use of entheogens at the center of religious activity, while others prohibit drug use altogether.



Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol and by extension other drugs of similar or greater strength. In general consumption of tea, coffee, and tobacco is acceptable for Muslims, although some Muslims prohibit these substances as well. In some parts of the Islamic world where it is traditionally consumed, khat is also acceptable. In some Islamic countries, alcohol is prohibited; and sometimes possession, manufacture, or trade is punished with severe penalties (e.g., corporal or capital punishment).

From the Islamic point of view, the most important aspect determining the illicitness of recreational drugs is the potential for intoxication. Drugs with the potential to lead to intoxication or other significantly altered states of consciousness (such as alcohol, Cannabis, opium and its derivatives, cocaine, psychedelics and so on) are prohibited. However, drugs such as caffeine or nicotine have only mild effects on the mind and do not lead to intoxication or altered states of consciousness, so they are not prohibited for Muslims. It does not matter from the Muslim point of view whether enough of the drug is consumed for intoxication; if the drug will lead to intoxication if enough is taken, then it is prohibited to take any of it (except for a valid medical purpose), even if the amount taken is not sufficient for an intoxicating effect.

The Muslim nations of Turkey and Egypt were instrumental in banning opium, cocaine, and cannabis when the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations) committed to the 1925 International Convention relating to opium and other dangerous drugs (later the 1934 Dangerous Drugs Act). The primary goal was to ban opium and cocaine, but cannabis was added to the list, and it remained there largely unnoticed due to the much more heated debate over opium and coca. The 1925 Act has been the foundation upon which every subsequent policy in the United Nations has been founded. Cannabis use and abuse as an intoxicant was largely unknown in the West at that point, but Islamic leaders have been critical of it since the 13th century.


Judaism maintains that people do not own their bodies - they belong to God. As a result, Jews are not permitted to harm, mutilate, destroy or take risks with their bodies, life or health with activities such drug taking. [1]


According to the fifth precept of the Pancasila, Buddhists should refrain from intoxicants which cause a loss of mindfulness. Most Buddhist schools have strongly discouraged the use of intoxicants or psychoactives of any kind, with minor exceptions. Priests in the Soto Zen tradition of Japan, for example, are allowed to consume alcohol.

Indigenous religions

Many indigenous and shamanistic religions of the Americas, Asia and other continents use entheogenic drugs to make contact with the divine as part of their religious rituals. Most commonly, these are used in shamanistic practice involving healing rituals.

Cannabis is widely used in India by Hindu gurus and Middle Eastern sufis. Salvia Divinorum and psilocybin mushrooms ("Magic Mushrooms") are used in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Ayahuasca is used ritually among Amazonian Indians. The "Fly Agaric" (Amanita Muscaria) mushroom has a long shamanistic use in Europe and Russia. Also, in Europe Damiana, various Nightshades (Solanaceae) like Datura, Brugmansia, Belladonna and other plants have been used. Peyote ((Lophophora williamsii)) and other Mescaline containing cacti has a widespread use among Mexican and some North American Indians. Aztecs used the LSA containing seeds (similar to LSD, but not as potent) of the very common Morning Glory (Ipomoea violacea) creeper, and the related Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, present in other places than Hawaii despite its name, has also had use among indigenous people because of its LSA-containing seeds. In some places, even frogs and fish are consumed for their intoxicating effects.

In many Eastern countries, including China (which is said to be dominated most by Confucianism), opium has been used, especially by the elderly, without many social problems. In countries like Thailand (Buddhist) and Bali (Hindu), the leaves of Kratom tree have been used as an ingredient in a tea with mild stimulant and opioid properties.

Rastafari movement

Many Rastafarians believe cannabis, which they call "ganja", "the herb," or "Kaya" is a sacred gift of Jah and may be used for spiritual purposes to commune with God but should not be used profanely.


Much of Hindu belief and practice grew out of the use of Soma, a god, plant, and drink which is the focus of the Rigveda. The continued entheogenic use of drugs such as Cannabis is not uncommon among various

Ancient Greece

Many Ancient Greek mystery religions are hypothesized to have centered around the use of entheogen, such as the Kykeon central to the Eleusinian Mysteries. Recent research suggests that the prophesies of the Delphic Oracle were uttered by Priestesses under the influence of gaseous vapors.

See also

External links

  • Overview of DMT: The Spirit Molecule,
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Religion_and_drugs". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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