Religiosity, Social Influence, and Drinking Among Iranians

In: Sociology of Islam
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Most traditional interpretations of Islam view alcohol consumption as strictly forbidden and more than a dozen Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, have prohibited alcohol use. Nevertheless, many Muslim residents of these countries continue to consume alcohol. While this paradox merits scholarly attention, little has been done to clarify it. This paper utilizes Iran as a case study to assess the determinants of alcohol consumption and of attitudes towards the Islamic decree on alcohol use among Muslims. To do so, this study uses a survey of 84 Iranians. Utilizing a small non-random sample, this paper serves as an exploratory foray into the topic. Results show that social influence is strongly and positively associated with alcohol use. Identifying as Muslim, however, is not significantly associated with alcohol use. Among different aspects of religiosity, only religious practices is negatively associated with alcohol use. Additionally, those who have higher scores on a scale of spiritual experiences are more likely to believe that alcohol is not forbidden in Islam, while those with higher scores on a religious practice scale are more likely to conform to the conventional view that considers alcohol use forbidden for Muslims. This suggests that researchers should disaggregate Muslim religiosity into different dimensions to explain its relationship with alcohol consumption.

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