Alcohol in Iran

Alcohol in Iran is prohibited for the majority of its citizens, due to laws against consumption of alcohol by Iranian Muslims who make up the great majority of the country. Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, strict laws against alcohol were enacted, and alcohol consumption is regulated under the Islamic legal term of hudud, "crimes against God".[1] Despite complete prohibition for Muslim citizens, there is still widespread alcohol use across Iran. Alcohol is the second most popular drug in Iran, after opiates.[1]

Non-Muslim citizens are granted a limited permission to produce alcohol for consumption within their community. This exemption, however, also leads to a negative attitude towards them (especially Armenians) as alcohol dealers, and a segment of black market alcohol in Iran comes through the minority community.[2][3][4]


Wine has played an important role in Persian culture and history ranging from administration of the earliest empires to religion and Persian literature.[5]


Under the law, it is forbidden for Iran's Muslim citizens to consume alcohol. However there is open violation of the law. Alcohol drinking is so widespread that Iranians are the third highest consumers of alcohol in Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries, behind Lebanon and Turkey (in both of which it is legal to drink), with an annual per capita consumption of 1.02 Liters.[6] Much of the alcoholic beverages consumed by Iranian citizens is smuggled from Iraqi Kurdistan into Iran.[7]

Allowances for non-Muslims

Additionally officially recognized non-Muslim minorities are allowed to produce alcoholic beverages for their own consumption and for religious rites such as the Eucharist (two of the four religious minorities guaranteed representation in the Majlis, the Armenians and Assyrians, are Christian, the former being chiefly Armenian Apostolic).

Bringing alcohol into Iran is disallowed for Muslim citizens, but Christians and Jews are allowed.[8][9]

Drunk driving

In 2011-2012, Iran's police withdrew the driving licenses of 829 drivers, including 43 women, who had failed to pass alcohol and drug tests. Alcohol tests taken from drivers in Tehran in the period of 20 April-20 May 2012 showed that 26% of them were drunk.[10] Because the dominated Muslim state has no discothèques or nightclubs, it all takes place at home, behind closed doors. There are as many as 200,000 alcoholics in Iran, according to Iranian media reports.[11]

Illegal sources

The 2010 study Substance Use Among Migrants: The Case of Iranians in Belgium notes that alcohol is acquired illegally in three different ways: purchased from ethnic minorities (particularly Armenians), personal home production including adding fermentants to non-alcoholic beer, or illegal imports largely through Iraq.

Non-alcoholic alternatives

Iran's prohibition of alcoholic drinks creates a large demand for non-alcoholic beer. Anti-smuggling plans by the Iranian Government, coupled with awareness campaigns against the consumption of cola carbonates and campaigns encouraging the drinking of non-alcoholic beer, further boosted demand in 2010. More young adults in Iran are tending to non-alcoholic beer, following widespread media coverage regarding its health benefits. These health advantages play a major part in the promotional activities of most major firms.[12]

See also


  1. 1 2 Marjolein Muys (1 April 2010). Substance Use Among Migrants: The Case of Iranians in Belgium. Asp / Vubpress / Upa. pp. 78–. ISBN 978-90-5487-564-2.
  2. Afshin Molavi (12 July 2010). The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom. W. W. Norton. pp. 95–. ISBN 978-0-393-07875-6.
  3. A. Christian Van Gorder (2010). Christianity in Persia and the Status of Non-muslims in Iran. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-0-7391-3609-6.
  4. Kevin Boyle; Juliet Sheen (7 March 2013). Freedom of Religion and Belief: A World Report. Routledge. pp. 423–. ISBN 978-1-134-72229-7.
  5. J.B. (28 September 2016). "Why wine is integral to Persian culture". The Economist. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  6. "Islam and alcohol: Tipsy taboo". The Economist. 2012-08-18. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  7. Saeed Kamali Dehghan (25 June 2012). "Iranian pair face death penalty after third alcohol offence | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  8. "Some Rules About Travel to Iran". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  9. "Iran Travel FAQs". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  10. Pourparsa, Parham (2012-06-20). "BBC News - Iran's 'hidden' alcoholism problem". Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  11. Hafezi, Parisa (26 March 2014). "FEATURE-Moonshine is just a phone call away in Islamic Iran". Reuters.
  12. "Alcoholic Drinks in Iran". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
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