In the United States, the 1920s represented an era known as Prohibition. During Prohibition, alcohol was all but completely outlawed, but one challenge is that alcohol is complicated to outlaw entirely. Rubbing alcohol is a very effective antiseptic and can prevent infections; alcohol is also the primary ingredient in many hand sanitizers. Many churches use wine instead of grape juice when serving communion, and other religions use alcohol in their rituals.
Today, some countries have outlawed alcohol, in part or as a whole. All of these countries have a majority Muslim population and have governments that adhere to some form of Islamic law, known as Sharia. In Islam, two of the most significant prohibitions are eating pork and drinking alcohol. There are about 14 countries that have outlawed alcohol to some degree.
Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, has outlawed alcohol to the extent that Yemenis cannot purchase or drink alcohol at all. The two largest cities, Aden and Sana’a, have some large hotels and night clubs in which alcohol can be sold to foreigners visiting. Foreigners can carry small amounts of alcohol but cannot drink it in public.
The United Arab Emirates allows for some sale of alcohol except for in the region of Sharja. In Sharja, non-Muslims can obtain an alcohol license from the government; the license will enable them to possess alcohol, but they cannot drink it in public.
Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Mauritania, Libya, the Maldives, Iran, Kuwait, Brunei, and Bangladesh also have alcohol bans, as do some states in India (India is a Hindu-majority country but has a sizeable Muslim population). However, these bans often come with an asterisk to accommodate non-Muslim citizens and foreigners who may be visiting. Many of these countries allow non-Muslims to consume alcohol in private. However, in war areas such as Somalia and Yemen, possessing any alcohol is strongly discouraged, even if it is legal for non-Muslims.
Shirazi is a popular wine type, and it is named for Shiraz’s city in Iran. Muslims in Iran are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol, though non-Muslims can buy it under certain conditions. Foreigners who are visiting may bring alcohol with them when departing the country.
As with Prohibition, when the United States attempted to outlaw all alcohol, countries that today have tried to outlaw alcohol have found that there are always caveats.
Several countries have deemed alcohol illegal, including Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.