In Islamic societies, the
consumption of hashish has usually enjoyed an unclear juridical
status, especially when compared to alcohol. Religious leaders and
rulers have occasionally tried to disincentivise or even prohibit its
consumption, but such a ban never enjoyed wide consensus among
scholars of Islamic law (see Franz Rosenthal, The Herb: Hashish
versus Islamic Medieval Society, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1971).
The famous Hanbali scholar Ibn
Taymiyya (1263-1328), a precursor of modern Salafism, justified the
absence of any mention of hashish in the Quran and in the sayings of
the Prophet and of the First Caliphs by arguing that the substance
had only been imported to Muslim countries at a later stage.
According to him, it was the Tartars who came with Genghis Khan’s
armies who spread its use among the Muslim population of the
countries the Mongols were invading, in order to debilitate their
capacity to resist conquest. Ibn Taymiyya was writing at a time when
many Muslim states and societies were struggling to survive the
Mongols’ onslaught and therefore he may have been biased in his
claim, wishing to attribute all the ills of what he perceived as the
decadence of the Islamic World to external causes. However, he may
have been partially right at least with regards to the provenance of
cannabis in the Muslim World, as being the steppes of Central Asia.
It is indeed possible that the lords of the steppes, the Turks and
Mongols, had inherited cannabis from their predecessors, the
Scythians, which they then brought to the cities of Central Asia and
Khorasan (the east of the Iranian Plateau covering parts of
Afghanistan), where the people engaged in trade and military
relations with the nomads. In other writings, Ibn Taymiyya blames the
spread of hashish consumption squarely on the Sufis.
afghanistan-analysts.org, January 7, 2019 by Fabrizio Foschini and