A Brief History Of Coffee
Channel: Ismail Kamdar
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Episode Transcript ©
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In this lesson, our first in our series of lessons on oxygen culture, and how the Muslim world shaped global culture in many ways, we're going to talk about one of my favorite aspects of Muslim culture, that became part of the global culture, something that was discovered and invented in the Muslim world. And that's coffee. I'm having a cup of coffee as I record this, and it's really fascinating. The history of coffee is very fascinating, and showing us how Muslim culture became part of global culture. So this is a picture of an ancient coffee shop, it's really not much different from the coffee shops, one in the Muslim world today a mixture of some halal and haram
elements. Unfortunately, coffee shops in the Muslim world are associated with these long pipes that some Muslims smoke, which I consider to be prohibited. But you know, it just shows you that the idea of a coffee shop, the reason I put this picture up is to show you that a coffee shop is not a new idea. Now, they've been coffee shops in the Muslim world for a long, long, long time. It's actually where it was originally invented. So what we're going to do in this lesson is a brief history of coffee, and some lessons from that history. So for anybody who's ever been curious about the history of coffee, this lesson is for you, you are really going to enjoy this to get started the origins of
coffee. Where does it come from? Who was the first person to discover it? There are so many, you know, different opinions here are they really doesn't seem to be a way to legitimately trace back the origins of coffee to a single person, there is a story. And Allah knows best how true the story is. It's a legend. It's a myth. It's possibly a true story, but I'm going to narrate it anyway. But the legend goes that a long time ago in the Muslim world and Ethiopian farmer noticed that his goats were getting energetic whenever they ate a specific being the coffee bean. And so he realized that these beans have an effect that give people animals energy. And eventually, somewhere along down the
line, somebody realized you could roast these things and, and boil them in water and make a drink out of it. That not nobody really knows how they lead from goats eating it to people roasting it and boiling it in water. That part's basically lost to history. But we do know, it originated in the Muslim world, right?
What we know of the first usage of coffee as a beverage that was junk by Muslims, is that it seems that he was the Sufi mystics of Yemen, who discovered that this drink has an effect of keeping you up at night and giving you a lot of energy. And should they used it to keep themselves up for thicker as for the late night prayer, for the discussions for the bar that they use the as a means of staying up late at night and worshipping Allah. And so the earliest known usage of coffee as a drink was for the worship of Allah. This is fascinating. Something as simple as a cup of coffee, it's or regions, as far as we know, in terms of being a drink is directly related to people wanting
to worship a level. I mean, just think about that for a minute. How mind blowing, is that? Right? So here comes another interesting part of our history. Only Muslim scholars were suspicious of coffee, they were suspicious of it for two reasons. Number one, they linked it to the surface. Right? And they've always been throughout history group of Allah who were against Superdome and those who approach Sufism. And so there was always some suspicion of the from the, from the anti Sufi Allah towards the Sufi ones. And, again, I don't I don't want to get into sectarianism in this course, nonetheless, you know, the point is that when the Sufi is introduced something to the Muslim world,
and they may be part of the acts of worship, certain Allah malware, and always will be against them.
The other reason they were suspicious of coffee is they heard it affects your mind. And the assumed effect was the same as alcohol. And so there were two factors that were passed. During this time. There were some who regarded coffee to be a type of beat up that type of innovation, a part of the Sufi ritual, the Sufi acts of worship, right. And so the hearing they call it an innovation. There were others who said it is haram because it's a type of alcohol. Right. intoxicates the mind rebooted, they never tasted it, is it an assumption? And so very early on in Islamic history, they were people saying that coffee is a bit odd or coffee is haram. And these were coming from, to be
honest with you from a faith perspective, very flimsy basis. Right. And despite the fact that coffee is haram, the spread of coffee throughout the Muslim world was, was very, very fast. It's spiritual.
The Muslim world very quickly and became a normal and established part of the Islamic culture. And we see this with many things throughout history. Something new is invented, will articulate Haram, it becomes normal, then automatically. Hello. We've seen this with the radio seen this with the printing press. We've seen this with television. Even with the internet to some extent, it seems that ever something new is invented, there's always a group of automa who say haram right, and people don't listen to them unless they actually bring a logical reason for declaring it Haram. So what happened after this? Well, continuing with our history of coffee, eventually, coffee became the
norm. And once coffee became the norm, the fatwa changed from haram to Hello. This is quite, this is something that fascinates me. I've seen this happen in my own lifetime with various things, for example, photography. When I was a kid, all of the alumni in our area used to see that photography is around. And once photography became the normal, those alumni themselves have pictures of themselves on Facebook and on flyers for the lectures and things like that. I noticed the same thing with television when I was a kid, everybody said television is around. And many of those allama who used to see the television is haram. Now the television is the norm. They have their own TV show. So
they teach people Islam. I and so whenever people were quick, too quick to judge something as haram without a valid reason. You notice that from one generation to the next the fatwa changed.
A funny thing about the history of coffee is that Muslims weren't the only one to call it hard on the Christians did as well as the Christians reason for declaring coffee Haram is very similar to how some of our automatic today in that they said this is a Muslim drink, therefore you can't have it. Now just like have some wisdom, tea will tell you you can't eat a steak because it's a Christian, a Christian sweet hide. So this mindset exists in both religions among some people. So early on in history.
They were Christian preachers in a coffee is prohibited. The Muslim preacher theater coffee is prohibited. Yet coffee became an established part of Muslim and Christian cultures. And it didn't just become a part of the Muslim culture. But it became a key features of Muslim culture that when you go to a Muslim culture, you expect to be served. Right, which is the Arabic word The coffee is derived from. And this is, you know, every Muslim culture has its form of coffee that that is a norm. You know, and especially in the Ottoman Empire, it was a norm. In fact, the English words coffee, mocha cafe, all of them, actually from the Arabic language, I use all Arabic origin words
which were anglicised, so it shows you how deeply rooted coffee is in Arabic culture and and in Muslim culture. So eventually, coffee found its way into Europe through the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, coffee became a very much a major part of the culture during the time of Solomon the magnificent became something everybody was having coffee shops began to open up. And again, Europeans traveling there for business with taste coffee, fallen in love with it, take it back, buy something, get back to the cities, and eventually it began to spread until it became the global culture. Today, coffee is the most consumed beverage on earth on a daily basis. Something that
originated in the Muslim world to be used for the worship of Allah became the most consumed beverage in the world. Right? That's statistically speaking, you know, the amount of people who drink coffee today is far more than the amount of people who drink tea or soft drinks or juice, or any other thing that people make to drink.
One last point about the history of coffee, you'll notice when you go to Muslim countries, coffee tends to be very dark and butter. Right. kahar tends to be very dark, but powerful drink. That's our coffee originally was it was the Europeans who found it to butter. So they introduced the idea of adding sugar or cream to sweeten it. And that's how the machine was invented. It was invented by a couple Shaolin monks who found the Muslim coffee to be to butter so they add cream to it, and made it sweet. And so butter coffee, original dark coffee, its origin is in the Muslim world, sweet coffees filled with sugar or syrup or cream. That donation is in the Christian world. So that's a
brief history of coffee. It was discovered in the Muslim world invented by sothys to assist him in worshipping Allah late at night. Originally, people were skeptical of it. Eventually, it became a normal part of the culture. People change the opinion towards it right to today. Everyone considers coffee to be allowed. Nobody has a problem with it. And it is a major part of the global culture. So
Most importantly, what can we learn from this?
Well, one of the lessons that I always think about when it comes to the history of coffee is that, you know, we are too quick to declare new things wrong. And too often in history, we see this happening, people discover coffee, automatic later on, you know, people invent the printing press automatically adhara, someone invents radio to automatically add harm. Same thing with television, same thing with photography, it seems that anytime something new is invented, is a large vocal group of alumni declaring it harm and the problem with this is multifaceted. Number one, it stops Muslims from inventing new things, because you're afraid of being branded as someone who made something
haram and you're getting on the wrong side of the wrong side of society. So it stops innovation in the Muslim world. And really, the stagnate. stagnation and decline of the Muslim world scientifically began with this. But people shifting towards this idea of just declaring things around without evidence. And also it goes against the very fundamental of all religion, which is that everything's halaal. And this is a genuine reason to make it wrong. Right. So unless something's like really, really bad for society, and immoral, or something that's clearly and explicitly mentioned, in the Quran, or Hadith, we should not be declaring things wrong. So we need a
dynamic approach towards Faker, the approach of the early generations, right. And the approach of the early generations was that things are hollow until proven otherwise. And that's why in the early generations, there was a lot more scientific innovation. Muslims were afraid to explore new ideas, new technologies, and new inventions, new medical treatments, because there wasn't anybody sitting on the back telling them this is haram. This is haram, this era, you know, there was a much more moderate approach to fit, we need to go back to that we have to go back to the dynamic, moderate approach to fit that the early generations had this idea that because something new is haram, this
is not from Islam, this is something that developed much later, and is, in many ways responsible for the decline of the Muslim world. So we have to let go of this mindset, it is very harmful to the oma, if you hold on to this mindset.
Another thing which I find very fascinating about coffee, is that just like many other aspects of our culture, it's discovered is a link to the religion itself. People were looking for a way to stay up late at night for the 200 for worshipping, a love for remembering a love for studying Islam. And so they were the first ones to adapt to coffee to make it a part of their lifestyle. And also, just like with the invention of algebra, or the discovery of many different medicines, the origin is directly related to Islam, people were looking for a way to stay up at night to worship Allah. And that is why they invented coffee. Absolutely amazing. You know, we take our coffee for granted today
that this is just some worldly thing that someone came up with, you know, they can get more work done. But, you know, that's it's much deeper than that. And just think about it, something as mundane as coffee would not have been discovered, at least not at that point in time. If people were not so enthusiastic to worship Allah, Islam, in of itself, is directly related to the origin of coffee. That's something that just completely fascinates me. And finally, the final point of reflection, coffee today is a part of the International culture.
What this teaches us is that we, the Muslim world, have the ability to invent or discover awesome things, and for them to become part of international culture.
And some of us have this idea that international culture all comes from the west, it all comes from Europe and America, it all comes, you know, from from that part of the world, and that we can't influence that dominant culture. But just think about the fact that the dominant culture in the world. One of these aspects is drinking coffee, which is a come from it comes from Islam. Another aspect of the dominant culture of the world is the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. Guess where that comes from? It comes from Islam. Right? So what does this teach us? It teaches us that we are capable of having an effect on the global culture, we should not have a
defeatist mentality about this, it is possible for you, override, or for us together to invent or discover something new. That becomes part of the global culture, we should not have this defeatist mentality towards the world, just like how coffee eventually became part of the global culture, it is possible that something you invent could become part of the global culture too. So those are some of my reflections on the history of coffee. What do you think about the history of coffee? What did you learn from this shade in the comments and we will discuss further