Civilizations, religions and their customs

With the different civilizations came different religious beliefs and practices. All of these were polytheistic; there were multiple gods, deities for different causes, whereas Judaism, Christianity and Islam are monotheistic; all is united in one God. Some say that texts like the Creation of Earth, the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood and the Tower of Babel spring directly from older Mesopotamian scripts, religions. Most of the territory was converted to Christianity by 300 AD. In the 7th century AD the area  was conquered by Islamic forces which had to battle Sassanid Persians, Byzantine Romans and Christian Arabs. A large scale conversion to Islam followed. Currently, the vast majority of the population in Iraq is Muslim (Shia and Sunni). There might still be 5% Christians (of the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac churches), while almost all Jews have left. Remnants remain of the Yazidi, Mandaean and Zoroastrian faith, mainly in the more liberal Kurdish region. While Islam prohibits alcohol, the Christian and other faiths do not mind, or alcohol even plays a role in their practices. It is among Christian farmers, in the North of the country, that one can still find the practice of making brandy from grapes, as it was done for centuries.



Farmers from different parts in North Iraq, Muslims and Christians alike, are producing the grapes. It is of course tricky to make brandy in a Muslim dominated country. Muslim neighbors do not like to smell the alcohol when Christian farmers make some home brew. Making brandy for commercial purposes leads to more objection. It was thus decided to do the fermentation and distillation outside the villages. Storage of the brandy is done in the ancient cellars of Al Qosh, an old Christian town.



Christians feel discriminated in Iraq, especially in the southern provinces. With great regularity Christians were killed. Certainly with the advance of ISIS, there has been an exodus from "Arab" Iraq to the more liberal Kurdistan, or to Jordan and Syria, or further away like the US and Australia. Buying this brandy means preserving a century old tradition in grape growing and brandy making, generating employment and income for Iraqi farmers and workers.