Hashish and the Arabs

Marijuana - The First Twelve Thousand Years - Hashish and the Arabs

Marijuana - The First Twelve Thousand Years Hashish and the Arabs


The Arab countries are hot. Hot and dusty. But mainly hot. It is only in recent times that a privileged few have found some respite from the heat through the miracle of air conditioning. The rest of the people are not so fortunate. Like their forefathers, they must endure temperatures that often soar to over 100 F. The excessive heat dictates that the people work only in the mornings and the evenings ("Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun").

The sun also dictates the kinds of animals and plants that will survive. The camel has adapted in a way that allows it to go without water for days. Not only can it store large quantities of water in its body, but the camel also does not sweat. By a similar adaptation, plants are able to survive by being able to retain their water. It is because of this capacity to minimize evaporation that plants such as cannabis are able to live in the parching Arabian heat.

The means by which cannabis accomplishes this amazing feat is by producing a thick, sticky resin that coats its leaves and flowers. This protective canopy prevents life-sustaining moisture from disappearing into the dry air.

But this thick stocky resin is not an ordinary goo. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, the stuff that holds time suspended in limbo, the stuff that makes men forgetful, makes them both sad and deliriously happy, makes them ravenously hungry or completely disinterested in food. It is a god to some and a devil to others. It is all of these things and more. This resin, this shield against the sun, this sticky goo... hashish.

The Discovery of Hashish

Little is known of the first Arab who discovered the marvellous properties of hashish. There is no shortage of legends, however, to fill in the dark, long-forgotten memories of that eventful moment. One of the most colorful of these stories tells how Haydar, the Persian founder of a religious order of Sufis, discovered hashish in A.D. 1155.[1]