Some scholars have argued that Central Asian steppe nomads were almost destined to convert to Islam because of their religious tradition and their location relative to the “vodka-hashish” dividing line. In the forest zones of Russia, where vodka was consumed, Christianity prevailed. The steppe nomads who used hashish inclined to Islam.Yup - an alcohol ban cost Muslims not only some fun but also Russia. Ok, so hashish balanced it out a bit. By the 11th century most of the Turkomen people had embraced Sunni Islam who found certain elements of Islam congenial such as devotion to ancestors and the tradition of the Shaman. I guess some aspects of Sufism match in this direction. In any case, this vodka-hashish line works quite well with one exception: The Khazars. This was a Turkomen nomadic tribe on the hashish side of the line, but they decided to accept Judaism as their religion - probably to keep later historians on their feet. They have their own really fascinating history.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The Vodka-Hashish Line
On my drive to Hampshire, I have been listening to lectures by Kenneth Harl on the Era of the Crusades. I found an amusing point in the lecture today and I thought I'll share it here. While talking about the Turks and their conversion to Islam in 9th-10th centuries, Harl mentioned a Vodka-Hashish line to see whether tribes converted to Christianity or Islam. Here is his description: