I used to take Arabic classes in San Francisco but took a break after a couple of years and just started up Arabic again, this time a “Speaking Arabic” class at Ta’leef Collective in Fremont, a local Islamic institution.
In class last night, the teacher was going over a few things and brought up the word for coffee in Arabic: “qahwa”. He said that it literally meant “wine that causes you to be invigorated” (I made sure to take careful notes on that) and said that at one point, some members of the Islamic clergy back in the day were thinking about making it forbidden. Fortunately for everyone, they did not.
I was telling a coworker this today and said that I don’t know what I would do if coffee had been deemed forbidden (haraam) to Muslims. Seriously, what would I have done?!
And then she said something that kind of blew my mind: If coffee had always been forbidden, then I never would have tasted it. Therefore, I don’t know what I would be missing.
I was, like, whoa.
Coffee is probably the biggest vice that I have. I don’t drink as much as some people but I do rely on 1-2 cups to get me through the day. I also enjoy the act of actually getting coffee, which always comes as a nice break.
It’s hard to imagine what things would be like if I didn’t have any coffee related activities as part of my life. No longer would I take any pictures of my coffee. No more walking the mile to Blue Bottle from work. None of that. But truth be told if it always had been forbidden then I wouldn’t have known that all the coffee stuff could have mattered to me.
It makes one think (about coffee).
To end this, check out a previous post I wrote almost two years ago about how drinking coffee means embracing the Muslim culture.
If anything, by drinking coffee, I’m merely partaking in the traditions of my people :)