Essay on Tobacco and Beer in the Middle East

Submitted By Emmabemily24
Words: 1161
Pages: 5

In the modern world that we live in, beer and tobacco are both very prevalent substances that people use everywhere, everyday. Although these substances are similar in many ways, they each gradually made their way through the world on very different paths, both eventually finding their way to the Middle East. The Middle East was affected and changed by each entry of these commodities especially in the aspect of social life. Tobacco found it’s way into the Middle East in a way that had much more problems and unacceptance than when beer made its way to the Middle East. Tobacco only became so widespread in Early Modern Egypt because of its consumer demand, not because of the support by the Empire. Where as, beer was widely accepted in Mesopotamia and was often used as a form of payment to workers. It is assumed that the reason for tobacco’s fast and wide spread throughout the world is because of it’s addictive qualities causing the consumer’s demand to be stronger than it would be for a commodity that's not addictive. Because both beer and tobacco are addictive, this is probably the same reason for beer spreading so widely and quickly. However, when beer showed up in the Middle East, it was uncommonly viewed as harmful and was rarely disapproved. The reason for this difference could be because of the vast time difference between when beer and tobacco came into the Middle East. Beer first made its way there around 4000 BCE when society was just starting to become civilized. Maybe people didn’t think an addictive commodity would destruct their citizens and their not so systematic lives, where as Tobacco showed up in 1590 AD when society was much more advanced and systematic and could perhaps be disrupted by wide usage of addictive substances. Beer came into the Middle East in a much more natural and accepted way. It’s discovery and path into the world and then into the Middle East was consistent with the vast change from nomadic life to settler’s life. Sometime during 4000 BCE, beer, unlike tobacco, was discovered, not invented and transported. Beer was discovered when nomadic life changed to settler’s life and when people began gathering and farming. The grains that they found to eat were not very palatable so as an attempt to eat these grains and not let them go to waste, people crushed and soaked them in water. This essentially brewed beer and over many years, people discovered ways to perfect the brewing and to make different kinds of beer. When beer was first made, there was no such invention that could strain the grains and debris from the liquid. People drank the beer from straws to prevent the swallowing of the grains and often shared the drink with a partner so that they didn’t have to use more than one pottery. Beer eventually became a symbol of friendship in this way. When beer came to Mesopotamia, even after a filter was invented, people were still found sharing the drink with a partner and drinking through straws. Beer drinking became a social tradition and became widely accepted in the Middle East. It actually became a form of payment for workers and a very gracious gift if exchanged between friends. Beer was virtually unopposed, unlike tobacco. Mesopotamians and Egyptians saw beer as a gift from god. It had strong social importance because everyone drank it from children, to adults, poor to rich. Different from beer, tobacco caused a dispute in Early Modern Egypt. It was in extremely high demand by consumers, but the empire did not approve of its distribution and use. If you were not using tobacco, chances are you were against it. In the 1630’s Murad IV took many measures to try and outlaw tobacco consumption, first by outlawing the production, then the distribution, then the use of tobacco. This was not effective at all and tobacco continued to grow in popularity. Smoking tobacco had no obvious effect on a person and the fact that it was not needed to survive like food or drink is, showed that