Prohibition of Alcohol
Prohibition in US
History of Drinking Alcohol
In the late seventeenth century, the Reverend Increase Mather,
probably the most influential Puritan minister of his time, said that alcohol was "a
good creature of God" and that man should partake of the gift without abusing it. His
son, being a little more concerned about drinking, encouraged people to set a good example
by not getting drunk. But no one of that time cared. Everyone, men, women, and even
children were drinking huge amounts of alcohol without any feeling of doing something bad.
Alcohol was part of daily life. Nearly everyone was addicted to it.
However, starting in the late 1700s, some people started being
concerned about the amount of alcohol that people were drinking. By 1800, abstinence
pledges were introduced in churches. During the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s and
30s, people started drinking less. By 1833, 6000 societies for prohibition were formed in
several states. Physicians, ignorant as they were, started to prescribe less dangerous
alcoholic items. Many Protestant churches started supporting antiliquor movements. In
1826, Reverend Lyman Beecher, one of the most powerful voices for prohibition delivered
six furious sermons condemning liquor.
Prohibition on State Levels
Though antiliquor movements were a little successful on local levels,
they were not successful on state levels. In Massachusetts, a law was passed in 1838 that
prohibited sales of spirits in less than 15-gallon quantities. The law was repealed only
two years later. Maine, with the reputation of being the drunkest state in the nation,
passed a strict prohibition law in 1851. The law did not help its reputation much. Other
states followed without getting good results. The laws were just too difficult and
expensive to enforce. The majority of the people did not want to stop drinking alcohol.
Many states drastically changed or even repealed the laws soon after passing them.
However, in the late 1800s, antiliquor movements started becoming
politically successful. In 1893, a new organization called the Anti-Saloon League was
formed in Oberlin, Ohio. It was against the drinking of alcoholic beverages anywhere and
affected elections greatly by hurting opponents of prohibition. By 1913, over half of the
people of the United States were living under some sort of prohibition. The drys (people
that were against alcohol) then went a step ahead. In the end of 1913, five thousand
supporters of prohibition paraded from the White House to the Capitol calling for national
prohibition by 1920. They presented a petition to the Congress asking for a Constitutional
amendment that would prohibit all alcoholic beverages. It was the first time such an
action had been formally suggested.
The wets (people who opposed prohibition) did not believe that
national prohibition could take place. Even the most optimistic drys expected an uphill
fight. However, something happened that no one had expected. World War I broke out and the
United States entered it in 1917. The entire political climate changed. There was a
massive outbreak of anti-foreign sentiment, particularly anti-German. The Germans had
dominated the sale and manufacture of beer. Prohibition speakers often referred to the
"un-American saloon". They also argued that grain and other ingredients used in
the manufacturing of beer and hard liquor were needed for the war effort. A temporary
Prohibition Act was passed during this time to save these ingredients for use as food.
Congress voted for Prohibition in the end of 1917. The amendment got
the necessary votes in both houses of Congress. Even then, the wets were confident that
the Eighteenth Amendment would not be ratified by the thirty-six necessary states in the
limited time of seven years. However, much to the people's surprise, the amendment was
ratified in only thirteen months. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island did not ratify it.
Still there was not much of a change in the common people's hearts.
Most still wanted to drink alcohol at all costs. In the days before the National
Prohibition Act (the lengthy document explaining what exactly was the prohibition and its
limitations) became law, many people could be seen moving alcohol from warehouses and
other places to the safety of their homes where drinking alcohol was allowed. Even then,
prohibitionists were optimistic. They thought that once the American public would
recognize the importance of a liquor-free society, the need for enforcement would rapidly
disappear and estimated the cost of enforcing the law at about five million dollars. It
was the greatest miscalculation they ever made.
Enforcement of Prohibition
In the first year of enforcement (1920), Congress appropriated
$6,350,000. By 1923, the secretary of treasury was asking for $28,500,000 and a few years
later, it was estimated that at least $300,000,000 would be needed.
There were many exceptions in the Act. For example, farmers could make
cider and let it become alcohol without adding anything to it, treating it in any way, or
trying to sell it. Beer still could be brewed legally, if nearly all of the alcohol was
removed before it was sold. Liquor was still available for medicinal purposes in
pharmacies and was easy to get by forging prescriptions or getting prescriptions from
Many people got alcohol illegally. Workers in the industrial alcohol
business could easily remove the poisons from industrial alcohol to drink it. Many people
distilled alcohol at home. Others imported alcohol from neighboring countries such as
Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. A lot of alcohol also came from Britain.
Results of Prohibition
The structure now called organized crime was born during the
Prohibition. People hijacked alcohol that was on its way to government warehouses where it
would be sold for medicinal purposes. New criminals were formed such as the bootleggers
and rumrunners. Bloody shoot-outs took place between rival gangs. American society was
becoming totally corrupt. Bribery became a way of life. Many people started dying because
of poisonous alcohol.
End of Prohibition
Seven months after the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, the
Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified. This seemed to be a
victory for Prohibition as women were thought to be solidly antiliquor. However, women had
started to deal with bootleggers, etc and many joined movements calling for the repeal of
the Eighteenth Amendment. Even then, the drys had enormous political power and repeal
didn't seem possible. Then the Great Depression took place. Unemployment rates were
soaring. People were becoming extra poor and remembered the days that the government used
to get huge amounts of money through taxes on liquor. Now the government was spending
money trying to enforce unenforceable laws while all the money spent on buying alcohol by
the people was going into the pockets of gangsters. Many supporters of Prohibition now
started turning against it. On December 5, 1933, Utah became the thirty-sixth state to
ratify the Twenty-First Amendment and the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed. Some states
chose to remain dry, but by 1966, there was not a single dry state in the whole nation.
The "Noble Experiment" had lasted only thirteen years and ten months. It had
Prohibition in Arabia
An earlier prohibition had taken place more than 1300 years before the
one in America. The people of Arabia loved to drink. However, a few did not drink alcohol.
Among them was the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. After becoming a
Prophet, the Quran was revealed slowly to the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
sallam. Many verses contained guidance about how a community should work. Some rules
agreed with people's customs and traditions before Islam. However, many of the new rules
required big changes that were carried out by the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
sallam, and his companions without any complaints. One of these changes was the
prohibition of alcohol.
Three Verses Revealed
Three verses of the Quran concerning alcohol were revealed to Prophet
Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in Madinah and from that time, alcohol was
prohibited. The first verse showed that Allah dislikes alcohol. Even though this verse was
not a command to stop drinking alcohol, many people stopped drinking it as soon as this
verse was revealed, in order to abstain from something disliked by Allah.
The second verse prohibited people from praying when drunk. In a
sermon before the third verse was revealed, the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
sallam, said that Allah hates alcohol and very soon the verse for prohibition might be
revealed. He told the believers to sell the alcohol that they had. After that, people were
not in a hurry to hide whatever alcohol they had with them. Instead, they were in a rush
to get rid of something that was hated by Allah. Even addicts got rid of it. No one
questioned why and no one complained that it was too hard for them to stop drinking
alcohol. This was because they knew that they had to obey Allah and His Messenger in order
to be believers.
After only a little time, the third verse was revealed. It prohibited
alcohol completely. No one was allowed to sell it, to buy it, to make it, or have anything
to do with it. There was no exception, whatsoever. When this order came, those who had not
got rid of their alcohol did not try to hide it or sell it, but threw it away in the
streets. There was no need for setting aside money to enforce the law. Everyone followed
those laws whole-heartedly. What happened here was totally opposite of what happened in
the US. The prohibition of alcohol never had any bad effects on society in Madinah, has
never had any bad effects on society in any Muslim country, and will continue to only have
good effects on society. Alcohol is still prohibited in Islam and will remain prohibited