Tuesday, March 15, 2005

by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. 7102 W. Shefford Lane Louisville, KY 40242-6462, U.S.A. E-mail:

Islam is a universal religion. Islam is submission to the Will of God. This implies doing right, being an example to others to do right, and having the power to see that the right prevails. One should set an example to others to eschew wrong and have the power to see that wrong and injustice are defeated.
Islam disciplines the human being so that a Muslim can do good and ward off evil. Islam brings out the best in a human being, exalts him/her to the highest position on earth. Therefore by following the word and spirit of Islam one can strive to become a perfect human being. This statement is supported by the fact that our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most perfect human being ever lived on earth (See Dr. Ahmad Deedat's Video Tapes).
One should have the knowledge to distinguish between what is good and what is bad or evil. Anything that produces harm, injury or death is bad, by definition. Also anything that deviates or distracts a Muslim from performing his Islamic obligations or duties is also bad or harmful. Halal means lawful, permissible. The acts of Halal are made by Allah (SWT) and revealed to man through Al-Qur'an. If one examines Halal in detail one sees that Halal is designed for the benefit and welfare of mankind. It is designed to be for the "good" of mankind. Therefore Halal can be construed as good and could be synonymous with "good". Similarly Haram could be interpreted to mean bad or evil. Whenever the word Halal is mentioned we invariably understand that it is applied to meat and other foods.
Let there arise out of you
A band of people inviting to all
That is good, enjoining what is right
And forbidding what is wrong:
They are the ones to attain felicity.
— Al- Qur'an, 3: 104

Commenting on this verse Allama Yusuf Ali says " the root idea is attainment of desires, happiness, in this world and the next; success; freedom from anxiety, care or disturbed state of mind;..... The ideal Muslims community is happy, untroubled by conflicts or doubts, sure of itself, strong, united, and prosperous: because it invites to all that is good; enjoins the right; and forbids the wrong. "
Al Qur'an is guidance for all of mankind and for all times, present and future. The concept of Halal to the personal habits of Muslims is extended based on the arguments given initially and on the following verses taken from the Noble Qur'an:
Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind.
…… Surah, Baqara, 2: 44
Eat and drink of that which Allah hath provided, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth.
…………… Surah, Baqara, 2: 60
Those who believe and do good works: such are rightful owners of the Garden (Jannah). Surah Baqara, 2: 82

O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you. ……..Surah, Baqara 2: 168

O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you.... . 2: 172
The righteous man is he who wardeth off (evil). Surah, Baqara, 2: 189.
The best provision is to ward off evil. .. Surah, Baqara, 2: 197
Allah loveth those who have a care for cleanness… Surah Baqara, 2: 222.
O Ye who believe! Strong drink (intoxicants) and games of chance (gambling) and idols and divining arrows (superstition) are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed (prosper). …Surah, Al-Ma'ida, 5: 90
Satan seeks only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of strong drink (intoxicants) and games of chance (gambling) and to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from (His) worship. Will ye then not abstain?
………Surah, Al-Ma'ida,. 5: 91
... So be mindful of your duty (to Allah) and do good works, and again: be mindful of your duty, and believe; and once again: be mindful of your duty, and do right. Allah loveth those who do good………Surah, Al-Ma'ida…5: 93
Caffeine, theophylline and theobromine, three closely related alkaloids, occur in plants, which are widely distributed throughout the world. From ancient times, water extracts of these plants have served as beverages for man. These alkaloids possess important pharmacologic properties and are therapeutic agents. Coffee-extracted from the seeds of Coffea Arabica and related species- contains caffeine. For making tea, the leaves of Thea sinesis are used. They contain caffeine and theophylline. The seeds of Theobroma cacao are used to make cocoa, which contains caffeine and theobromine. Mate, a popular national drink of many South American countries, contains caffeine. Even the so-called "soft drinks", particularly the cola-flavored drinks popular in the U.S. and many other countries, also contain caffeine. These drinks are made using extracts of kola nuts, which, like the guru nuts chewed by the natives of Sudan, contain about two percent caffeine.

The earliest history of these beverages is not known except for many conjectural statements and mythical stories. Legend credits the discovery of coffee to Kaldi, an Arab goatherd. This appears fairly reliable as the word "coffee" comes from the Arabic word "gahwa", and until the end of the 17th century, the world's limited supply of coffee was obtained almost entirely from Yemen in Southern Arabia. The story goes that in about 850 CE the shepherd observed night-long friskiness and frolic in goats who had fed on berries of the evergreen coffee plant. Puzzled by the queer antics of his flock, he picked the berries so that he might make a beverage from them. This drink made him experience a sense of exhilaration and thereby proclaim his discovery to the world. The stimulating effect of coffee made it popular. This drink proved to be very helpful for enduring long religious services of the Muslims, particularly in the month of Ramadan. The orthodox priests pronounced it intoxicating and were against the use of this devotional antisoporific. But despite the threat of severe penalties, coffee drinking spread rapidly among Arabs and their neighbors. Today that in the US alone, over a billion kilograms are consumed annually. An adult American consumes an average of 8 kilograms of coffee or about 800 cups each year of the brown, non-nutritious liquid. It is estimated that more than half the world's coffee beans are brewed in America. The stimulatory effects of caffeine and the aroma of coffee are the two main reasons for the popularity of coffee. The taste and general desirability of a heated beverage are two minor reasons. Although toxic effects have been reported, no deaths have been reported from the drinking of coffee and the practice continues to increase in popularity.
The alkaloids are xanthine derivatives or methyl xanthines. Caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. Xanthine itself is dioxypurine and is related to uric acid in structure. The fact that these alkaloids bear similar structural formulae may not be obvious to the practicing pharmacist.
Caffeine was first extracted from plants in 1820 by the German scientist, Friedlieb Runge, as a white odorless, crystalline powder.
The most important ingredient in coffee-and the one primarily responsible for its continuing popularity-is caffeine, a drug that powerfully stimulates the central nervous system and gives that familiar coffee "lift." Caffeine clears away mental cobwebs, relieves drowsiness, masks fatigue and creates for many a general sense of well-being.
Caffeine in small doses helps produce a clearer train of thought, a keener appreciation of sensory stimuli and a swifter reaction time. Its "pick-me-up" properties largely account for the popularity of cola drinks, 600 ml of which have roughly the same amount of caffeine as a 174 ml cup of brewed coffee.
Since children are more sensitive to the stimulant effects of caffeine than adults, doctors discourage youngsters from drinking colas and cocoa (depending on the source of the chocolate, cocoa can have as much as half the caffeine as a cup of coffee). In addition to stimulating the brain, caffeine stimulates the kidneys to produce more urine.
Caffeine's virtues have prompted many drug manufacturers to include it in medications designed to relieve pain, premenstrual tension and cold symptoms (where it counters the drowsiness produced by antihistamines). Caffeine is also the active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to help people stay awake. In fact, the dose of caffeine in a single stimulant tablet is no greater than that in a cup of brewed coffee, but the unaware consumer may pay a lot more for caffeine in the drug than in the drink.
Caffeine, which constricts cerebral blood vessels, is used to treat migraine-type headaches and to counter the effects of drugs that depress the central nervous system. It is being studied as a treatment for hyperactivity in children (in whom it has a calming effect) and to stimulate breathing in premature babies who tend to stop breathing during sleep.
At the same time, however, caffeine may have untoward effects. It can interfere with fine muscular coordination and possibly accuracy of timing. Large doses of caffeine-the result, say, of drinking several cups atone time or 10 or more cups a day- can cause irregular or rapid heart beats; insomnia, upset stomach; increased breathing rates, blood pressure and body temperature; nervousness and irritability.
Caffeine "addicts" have sometimes been mistakenly diagnosed as suffering from an anxiety attack and treated incorrectly with tranquilizers instead of eliminating the cause of their difficulty.
Sometimes caffeine has paradoxical effects. In some people it may cause a headache; in others it may relieve one. In some it raises the amount of sugar in the blood; in others in lowers it (and may consequently stimulate hunger pangs or, rarely, a hypoglycemic reaction - a dizzy, weak, nauseated headachy, irritable feeling).
The effects of caffeine show up within 30 to 60 minutes of its ingestion and last several hours. Half the amount consumed is gone from the body within three and half hours.
The source of caffeine does not seem to make much difference in how rapidly it is absorbed into the blood, how high a level is reached and how long it stays around. Many people believe that while coffee in the evening will keep them awake, tea won't.
A cup of tea does have less caffeine than coffee-between half and three-quarters the amount. But one careful study showed that on an empty stomach the caffeine in tea is absorbed as readily as that in coffee, and when the same doses of caffeine are given as tea or coffee, the same levels of caffeine are reached in the blood. Instant coffee has less caffeine than brewed coffee, but more than tea.
Caffeine and even decaffeinated coffee stimulates the release of acid in the stomach, and therefore, coffee in any form is ill-advised for ulcer patients. Patients with high blood pressure or fever may also be told to avoid caffeine, since it raises both body temperature and blood pressure.
Although one major study indicated that coffee drinkers face an increased risk of heart attack, two subsequent studies that took other factors-including cigarette smoking-into account found no such relationship.
There have also been suggestions that excessive coffee intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage or malformations in the child. Although this relationship has by no means been proved, moderation in the use of caffeine-containing substances during pregnancy would seem wise.
An initial suggestion that coffee consumption may increase the risk of bladder cancer has not stood the test of further research. However, a Japanese researcher using the U.N. statistics found correlation between estimated national average consumption of coffee and age-adjusted death rate for prostate cancer in twenty countries. In laboratory studies, caffeine can cause cancer-like changes in cells at doses 20 to 40 times higher than the highest level ever measured in a habitual coffee drinker.
At lower doses, caffeine seems to inhibit the cancer-inducing effects of other chemicals, and thus may be protective. However, British studies suggested that another substance in coffee, chlorogenic acid, may enhance the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the stomach.
A tea estate worker in Sri Lanka developed asthma in the presence of tea fluff. "Coffee worker's lung" was found in a patient having circulating antibodies against coffee bean dust in the serum. This patient had worked for more than 20 years in a coffee-roasting factory.
High doses of caffeine stimulates the spinal cord. This may lead to clonic convulsions and death in experimental animals. However, in man the lethal dose of caffeine is estimated to be between three and 10 grams (gulping 30 to 100 cups of coffee rapidly at one time). Six human deaths have been reported so far in the literature around the world.
Heavy coffee drinkers who decide to break their addiction to caffeine should beware of abrupt withdrawal. Sudden withdrawal can cause headache, nausea and vomiting, mental depression, drowsiness and disinclination to work. The symptoms, which begin 12 to 16 hours after the last dose of caffeine, can be relieved by caffeine.
The best way to withdraw from caffeine is slowly weaning yourself a cup or two at a time over a period of a week or more.
Because of the potential toxicity of caffeine and the widespread usage of its products, one should question the safety of prolonged and excessive drinking of caffeine beverages.
Many Americans are giving up coffee drinking as prices have soared 500% recently.
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