A freewheeling conversation over coffee addiction

Mahmoud Ahmad
Mahmoud Ahmad
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I was engaged in an interesting discussion with a group of friends of which some of whom are managers and heads of sections at private companies while others are regular employees both in private and public sectors. As is the case with every discussion after random talk, the discussion generally veers toward a central topic. So did our discussion when after the initial casual talk our discussion gained heat with a cool central topic — coffee.

I know the word must have jarred you readers for a debate on java (slang for coffee) was the least expected topic by you all. But let me bring you’ll back to the issue from the start. The discussion started with all weighing in on the bad performance of some employees during the month of Ramadan. All of us attributed many reasons to the bad or poor performance of employees that included lifestyle and general behavior toward work and lack of ethics.

But here was the rider, despite all the reasons many zeroed in on one culprit. Yes you guessed it coffee or to be precise the lack of it! Interestingly the overwhelming majority placed the blame on addiction to coffee, be it the regular Arabian coffee or the branded ones sold in major coffee shops. My friends then turned toward me and asked me to bring this point out. They also urged me to keep the title of the article as simply this: “Ban coffee” because of what I believe the troubles they faced during Ramadan with coffee addicts.

People should stop any habit that harms the body and definitely they need to read about the danger of caffeine addiction

Mahmoud Ahmad

Branded cups

It is a tradition to have Arabian coffee with dates in the morning hours, either at home or work, every day. Some people walk into their offices carrying their branded coffee cups. I was told by a friend of mine at a workplace that he cannot function at work without starting the day with his cup of coffee. This is how addicted some of the people are to coffee. This of course will affect people at work during Ramadan.

A friend of mine who supervises 12 employees in his department called openly to ban coffee at workplace and treat and educate people who are addicted to coffee because he suffers during the month of Ramadan not because of his habit of drinking coffee, but because of the others, who are addicted to coffee. He describes them with the title of the famous TV series “the walking dead” because of the coffee addicts similarity in the slow shuffle as they walk inside the office.

He gave up on them giving their 100 percent at work simply because they cannot. He said that the best of such coffee addicts was the one who gave 30 percent performance during Ramadan. Of course, with a section suddenly having become non-performing assets, the load generally falls on those who are not coffee addicts, and they end up doing the work of others.

In addition, those of the coffee addicts who show up to work, then add to becoming a nuisance with the constant refrain ‘Oh, how I miss my cup of coffee,’ or ‘without the morning bracer I just cannot keep my eyes open,’ or some other line in the similar vein. Though they would waste time in complaining about their lot without their coffee, they would not be ready to face the fact that how so much they moan, they’ll have to do without the cup and buckle down to work.

Fasting without the brew

Another friend, who is a manager in a private company, said that three of his employees were fighting to take the whole month of Ramadan as vacation. They openly told him that they cannot work during Ramadan without their brew.

And they prefer to spend the morning sleeping and waking up just few hours before Iftar during the month, and that was the reason for the fight to get the time off from office. To my friend, this is no excuse for taking leave, for he believes being addicted to coffee or cigarettes is one’s own problem and work should not be affected due to this.

Few other workers, who were addicted to coffee, prepare for the month well in advance. They choose to reduce their dosage of coffee two months before Ramadan by slowly phasing out the intakes so it would not be a problem during Ramadan as the craving for caffeine is reduced.

Ironically there is a history in banning coffee. It was banned at different times in history as was revealed in some history sites. Sourcing the mental_floss magazine here, “Sweden gave coffee the ax in 1746. The government also banned “coffee paraphernalia” — with cops confiscating cups and dishes. King Gustav III even ordered convicted murderers to drink coffee while doctors monitored how long the cups of java took to kill them, which was great for convicts and boring for the doctors.”

After Murad IV claimed the Ottoman throne in 1623, he quickly forbade coffee and set up a system of reasonable penalties. The punishment for a first offense was a beating. Anyone caught with coffee a second time was sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus.

Interestingly speaking, coffee was banned in Makkah back in history, as the rulers in Makkah at that time declared it haram (forbidden) and ordered to punish the drinkers, seize and destroy the quantity from the stock. There are essays and written research for those interested to read about it.

Waste by extravagance

To heavy coffee drinkers I say that Islam urged us to balance everything to a level that it does not harm us as it is clear in the holy Qur’an here “and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).”

For someone who cannot function, work, focus and defiantly spend time on worshipping because of coffee is an extreme addiction case. People should stop any habit that harms the body and definitely they need to read about the danger of caffeine addiction. It is always good to balance everything in life so no one will be addicted to anything.

As for the problem of my friends in the stories mentioned above, it was reported, “last cure is cauterization”. I advised my friends in this case, tongue in cheek of course, to reject any vacation for coffee addicts next year in Ramadan and force them to give a 100 percent performance, which I believe is an impossible mission even for non-coffee addicts.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on August 22, 2017.
Mahmoud Ahmad is Managing Editor of Saudi Gazette for Local and Gulf Affairs. He can be reached at [email protected] and his Twitter handle is @anajeddawi_eng.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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