20 October 2006

Explaining the Word of Wisdom

Over at Nine Moons they've been discussing (I've been out of town, so I'm late on this) explaining difficult concepts; it started because I said it's harder to explain the Word of Wisdom than to live it. And it was, in Central Asia.

Explaining the Word of Wisdom is really easy in the US. It was even easier in the Middle East. It may not be fun to be the only couple not drinking at a party for work, but at least people could understand why you weren't. I knew it wouldn't be so easy in Central Asia, but I had no idea how hard it would be. Turning down alcohol and tea almost became a battle in some cases.

I expect the main reason for this is that most of the Muslims in Kyrgyzstan drink alcohol, at least occasionally (Muslims aren't supposed to drink alcohol). There is little precedent for turning something down simply because of your religious beliefs. Tea is so ubiquitous that it's almost unimaginable that you wouldn't drink it. And a simple no thank you wouldn't do. That would have nicely avoided the explanations. No, we always were asked why we said no thank you in someone's home.

I never thought that the most pressure we'd have to drink would be from Muslims.


  1. A former co-worker of mine from Iran said that he was offered alcoholic drinks much more often when he visited friends on a vacation trip to Iran than when he visited friends in the U.S.

  2. I would really be interested to see a study done on how widespread drinking is in Iran, despite the government's efforts.

  3. I just say I have an allergy, that explanation always works. "Liver problems in your family" also works. When I say it is because of religion I get told "It's against my religion too" (as they drink vodka)