Is it haram to drink Coca Cola?

Imam Khamene'i

Imam Khamene'i has responded with over thirty thousand fatwas on personal and public questions from the Ummah from around the world. The muqallidien (followers) of Imam Khamene'i all over the world have hopefully waited for his fatwas to be published and translated in a collected form as a book. The first part is now available in the Arabic original [6]. English and Turkish translations are in progress.

Many of his fatwas were already known worldwide because they were either relevant to many Muslims, such as his countless fatwas, which are supposed to promote the unity of Muslims. Or they are in a very interesting context, so that they were published.

A sensational, but also curious fatwa was undoubtedly the statement relating to the drink Coca-Cola. As a prelude to this fatwa it must be mentioned that the US government, although it bans the sale of all imaginable goods from the US to Iran and tries to hinder sales from other countries extremely, obviously clears the export of Coca-Cola. While this book was still being written, on May 1, 1995, US President Clinton affirmed - significantly, in a speech to the World Jewish Congress - the intensification of the trade boycott against Iran. Unfortunately, this tightening does not include Coca-Cola. This is really not just a political symbol, because Coca-Cola is one of the typical symbols of the so-called "American Way of Life"[1]. And the USA is using this last niche to export its ideology, if only as a drink, to Iran, especially since all other possibilities for cultural influence hardly exist anymore. After all, the original name Coca-Cola is now being used again. For a long time this drink was only sold under the Islamic name Zamzam (Holy Well in Mecca), which was certainly an insult to the Zamzam water. Not only because of this, but because Coca-Cola is certainly harmful to health, revolutionary Muslims have always condemned the drink. Unfortunately, it was an economic factor, albeit a small one. Iran, for example, with its 60 million population, consumed around 2 billion bottles (0.2 l) of the drink per year, i. H. every tenth Iranian drinks a bottle on average every day. Coca-Cola has been produced in Iran with an original license since 1992 by Western-oriented Iranian capital owners, which means a constant transfer to the licensor, and Pepsi-Cola also opened a production facility in 1994 (with very controversial support from an Iranian foundation). Since the Islamic State guarantees free trade in principle, nothing has officially been done to prevent it.

Against this background, the question of the legitimacy of the drink was posed to Imam Khamene'i. The question was not clearly defined. Everyone knew that if the drink had been forbidden by Islam, there would be no more production facilities in Iran. With a possible religious permission, however, it could be used to advertise the distressed drink. From these two possibilities, it was a difficult question. Imam Khamene'i's response fatwa in February 1995 was fatal for all cola manufacturers and consumers:

"Anything that (directly) strengthens global arrogance and Zionist circles is haram (forbidden) for Muslims".

Startled by this fatwa, beverage producers in Iran turned to Imam Khamene'i for clarification. This time it was not him who answered, but his office, telling the questioners that Imam Khamene'i's statement did not refer to a specific drink, but was a general statement. But anyone who wanted to understand it understood the fatwa! Unfortunately, statistics on the cola sales figures since this fatwa are not available. But observers can see that the many good Iranian drinks are regaining their popularity and that this Western drink is increasingly being forgotten, so that mostly only Western-oriented circles drink it.

Imam Khamene'i made similarly clear and, for some, devastating statements on other everyday topics pertaining to almost everyone. Some questioners have tried to create a loophole in the law for shaving the male beard by means of a clever questioning. They asked whether shaving the beard is also prohibited if it is done not with a blade but with scissors, which is technically possible nowadays, but is in fact nothing but splitting hairs. Imam Khamene'i did not discuss the technique of shaving at all, but explained that any form of shave that makes you look clean-shaven is forbidden for a Muslim man. It does not need to be discussed here which Islamic word - haram (forbidden), ihtiyaten haram (forbidden as a precaution) or similar - was used for this prohibition, because at most it would express the level of abomination. The fact is and remains that an adult Muslim man, with medical and biological exceptions, has to wear a beard! Even today, the critical visitor to Tehran is still amazed at how many beardless people there are who, apparently mostly out of habit or ignorance, do not take their external Islamic identity seriously. But their share is steadily decreasing.