The History of Hashish

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Hashish—A Short History

Hashish which is prepared from the resin of the flowering buds of the female plants of cannabis genus, is being used for several centuries though information about its first appearance is lacking. Hashish generally comes with an average of 15% THC is loved for its intoxicating effects and mind blowing smell and aroma. The best hashish you get to smoke today comes from Morocco, India (where it is known as Charas), Nepal, Afghanistan, and some countries of the Middle East and Latin America. In today’s post, we are going to discuss the origin and history of this wonder drug.

Early History of Hashish

Not much is known about the early history of hashish and the first observed evidence of hash can be traced back to the 10th century in then Arabia. There are a number of historical records appearing in Arab kingdoms and the Sufis (mystic saints propagating a liberal view of Islam) played an important role in the dissemination of hash. The Sufis were one of the first mystics to use cannabis for its psychoactive properties and for centuries they travelled the Islamic countries disseminating this marvellous herb as a means of connecting with the divine. The first literary reference to hashish comes in a story called “The Tale of the Hashish Eater” in all times classic 1001 Arabian Nights where it was used by Kind Omar to put Princess Abrizah to sleep.

Sufi Saint Sheik Haider’s appreciation of Hashish

Researchers are still doubtful about the fact whether hashish made its first appearance in Arabia or if it was introduced by other cultures particularly the Sufi saints of Persia. We have evidence that Sufi saint Sheikh Haidar used hash for its cerebral effects and propagated its use among his followers. According to a legend, the saint went into a spell of depression when he strayed alone in the wilderness and on his return, his followed found him blissful and he appeared to be a changed man altogether. Haidar ascribed his happiness to the miraculous properties of hashish and after his death, his tomb was surrounded by cannabis plants. It is the followers of Sheikh Haidar who are said to have caused the spread of hash throughout the Islamic empires in Asia. However, it needs to be said in this context that in the early days, hashish in the early days was mostly ingested and the mode of consumption was never related to combustion. It has also been suggested that hashish was initially used to create incense for burning in the altar.

Early laws on hashish

In a pamphlet published in Egypt around 1123 AD, we find the Nizari Muslims being accused of being hash consumers. The Koran doesn’t have any specified law on hash consumption and its use enjoyed a vague juridical status in the Muslim society. However, in spite of its popularity among the mystics and the masses, the clerics and the ruling classes disdained hash and the introduction of the Sharia laws attempted to ban hashish. However, cannabis and hashish still remained an integral part of the Islamic world and the Sufi mystics continued to propagate its use. From the 8th to the 14th century the use of hash continued to spread with the extension of the Islamic empires and hashish trade proliferated considerably and its presence could be felt as far as Morocco.

The myth of Hashish Assassins

The Assassins or Hashassassins were a secret Islamic sect which carried on assassinations of several political figures between the 11th to the 13th century. Marco Polo described this sect as people who carried on political murders under the influence of hashish. According to him these men were drugged with wine and hash and taken to a beautiful valley where all their sexual fantasies were fulfilled in an attempt to make them more loyal. Later on, these men used to carry out all the commands of their leaders and this sect is best known for the planned murder of several Seljuk and Abbasid politicians.

Proliferation of hashish

Following the 13thc hashish was widely circulated in more regions by the troops of Ghenghis Khan when its use spread as far as Central Asia and even Russia. It was then that the oldest monograph was written on hash which unfortunately doesn’t survive. The opening of new trade routes gradually led to the introduction of hashish in Europe and in the following centuries hash trade in Asia coupled with European colonialism helped to create a semi-global market for hash. It was in the 17th century when the rise in the use of tobacco boosted the consumption of hash.

Hashish in Europe

It was in the early 19th century that the French troops under Napoleon learnt the use of hashish during their campaign in Egypt. They brought home the habit of hash smoking which quickly found a large number of followers and by the 1840’s one could easily find hash in any regular medicine shop in France. French intellectuals including Theophile Gautier, Arthur Rimbaud, and Charles Baudelaire experimented with hash and wrote poetry and essays on hashish and its effects and associated myths.

Hash in the 20th Century

In the late 19th and early 20th-century substantial quantities of hashish were being exported to Europe from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Turkestan and Syria. However, the scenario altered drastically soon after the introduction of drug prohibitionist policies and presently the largest volume of hashish is being exported by Morocco. Production hasn’t stopped in the other countries but the products are mostly restricted to the local market.

In spite of the consistent efforts of historians and researchers, the exact date and place of origin of hash is still shrouded in mist. Now that you have gained considerable knowledge about the history of hashish, you must be wondering what it is like to smoke it! All you have to do is visit your local cannabis store, get a bit of this mind-blowing stuff and roll a spliff!

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