The Glass of Wine
An illustration from the 'Culture of the Sufis'.

Wine is widely used as a symbol of spiritual intoxication brought
about by Divine Love.
At a material level wine has the ability to disorientate the mind and
loosen behaviour - its addictive qualities tend to promote long
term problems for some and the overall social effect is negative. It
is rejected and forbidden for Muslims by the Shariat (Holy Law).
There appears to be almost a kind of reversal of this, when we
apply it to the wine of the spiritual sphere. When our body fasts
(refrain from food and drink) we may feel that our spirit is being
refreshed proportionately to our abstinence. The body becomes
lean but the spirit becomes healthy. In the case of wine our
abstention from its material form may help make our spirit lighter
and intoxicated but the effects of any confusion are not that the
mind becomes disorientated in the ordinary sense, but our spirit
becomes free of some of its earth bound qualities, and tends to
rise towards the Divine. The least of its benefits is that it reduces
negative thoughts and thus brings about much good to the
individual and thus to his/her society.
However to truly taste the divine wine it is not enough merely to
abstain from its gross form, otherwise every dry pedant and maulvi
would be ever spiritually intoxicated. For this the sufis turn to the
Saki - the one who brings and pours the divine intoxication into the
vessel of our spirit emptied of self by purification. The Saki is also
known as the spiritual guide or Murshid.
For the sufis the true inner wine can be said indeed to be "the cup
that cheers."

JMZ