Rudi MattheeAug 3, 2023
Angels Tapping at the Wine-Shop's Door
A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World
Oxford University Press 2023
When meeting an expatriate friend on my first trip to Dubai, the host at the restaurant where we were meeting quickly ushered me up to the second floor. For foreigners, he said—before handing me a wine list.
Dubai’s tolerance of alcohol is a more formalized version of Muslim tolerance—and clandestine drinking—of alcohol that dates back to its very inception, despite religious commands to the contrary. Professor Rudi Matthee tells that story in Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop's Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World (Oxford University Press / Hurst, 2023).
In this interview, Rudi and I chat about alcohol in the Islamic world: who drank it—and how they excused their behavior—and how non-Muslims ended up being a part of the Muslim drinking world.
Rudi Matthee is the John A. Munroe and Dorothy L. Munroe Chair of History at the University of Delaware. He is the author of four prize-winning monographs on Iranian history, and the editor or co-editor of another six books. He is currently President of the Persian Heritage Foundation.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.