Growing up in an environment as sober as you could get, I was terrified of drunk people. Perhaps because consuming alcohol is one of those taboos in some Muslim communities that seems to cause the faithful of all degrees to become overly vexed. It had been drummed into me that the spiral of decay that started with just one small sip was the most catastrophic act of self-harm I could inflict upon myself, my family, my extended family, not to mention dishonouring my forefathers and destroying any future prospect of ‘marrying well’, the sole purpose of my existence, obviously. A sin second only to promiscuity, I grew up with nightmare visions of what intoxication could lead to and steered well clear.
In hindsight, this was a very effective tactic employed by my parents who, as first-generation immigrants in the late twentieth century were typically preoccupied with preserving in their children the values they themselves had been brought up with. It wasn’t until I moved out of home to go to university that I was exposed, in any significant way, to people who drank alcohol to excess, and finally managed to overcome my abject fear. The haram-ness of all the drunkenness surrounding me seemed worlds away from the wholesome, halal, home environment I had left behind. Many years later I would come to realise this dichotomy was, perhaps, not as clear cut as it seemed.