Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is Smoking Allowed in Islam?

Islamic scholars have historically had mixed views about tobacco, and until recently, there has not been a clear, unanimous fatwa (legal opinion) to allow or forbid cigarette smoking.
The mixed views on the subject came about because cigarettes are a more recent invention and did not exist at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an in the 7th century A.D. Therefore, one cannot find a verse of Qur'an, or words of the Prophet Muhammad, saying clearly that "cigarette smoking is forbidden."
However, there are many instances where the Qur'an gives us general guidelines, and calls upon us to use our reason and intelligence, and seek guidance from Allah about what is right and wrong. Islamic scholars use their knowledge and judgment to make new legal rulings (fatwa). In the Qur'an, Allah says, “...he [the Prophet] commands them what is just, and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good, and prohibits them from what is bad..." (Qur'an 7:157).
In more recent times, as the danger of tobacco use have come to be proven beyond any doubt, scholars have become more unanimous in pronouncing tobacco use clearly haram (forbidden) to believers. They now use the strongest terms to condemn this habit. Here is a clear example:
"In view of the harm caused by tobacco, growing, trading in and smoking of tobacco are judged to be haram (forbidden). The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, 'Do not harm yourselves or others.' Furthermore, tobacco is unwholesome, and God says in the Qur'an that the Prophet, peace be upon him, 'enjoins upon them that which is good and pure, and forbids them that which is unwholesome'" (Permanent Committee of Academic Research and Fatwa, Saudi Arabia).
Muslims are forbidden to harm themselves or others. Yet millions of Muslims all over the world are doing just that - harming, even killing themselves and their families. In the Qur'an, Allah says, “...he [the Prophet] commands them what is just, and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good, and prohibits them from what is bad..." (Qur'an 7:157). So what are the evils of tobacco use, for your health and for your religion?
• Danger To Your Health
Allah says, "...make not your own hands contribute to your destruction..." (Qur'an 2:195); "...nor kill yourselves..." (Qur'an 4:29). It is universally understood that cigarette smoking causes a number of health problems that often ultimately result in death. Smokers are highly at risk for heart disease, emphysema, oral cancer, stroke, etc. There are hundreds of poisonous and toxic ingredients in the cigarette itself that the smoker inhales straight into the lungs. In an authentic hadith, the Prophet Muhammad said that "Whomsoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will sip this poison forever and ever in the fire of Hell." Over 3 million people worldwide die from smoking-related causes each year.

• Danger To Your Family's Health
In the Qur'an, Allah says: "Those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly bear on themselves a glaring sin" (Qur'an 33:58). And the Prophet Muhammad said that "there should be neither harming, nor reciprocating harm.” In another hadith, the Prophet said: "Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt his neighbor." Those around the smoker inhale what is known as "second-hand smoke" - the unfiltered, poisonous waste that goes in the air around the smoker. There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, over 40 of which are known to cause cancer. Second-hand smoke causes or aggravates asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems, especially in children.
• Addictive
The addiction to tobacco is a physical response that often interferes with one's life and worship. For example, smoking is clearly forbidden during the daytime fast of Ramadan. Many addicted smokers spend their fasting days sleeping, cranky, and short-tempered, just counting the hours until they can have a cigarette at sunset. The most severely addicted will wait outside the mosque door for the adhan, and break their fast by lighting up, before taking even food or water.
• Noxious Smell
Muslims are advised to refrain from eating raw onions and garlic - simply as a courtesy to those around them because of their smell. The same goes even more so for the reek of cigarettes, which permeates everything around the smoker - hair, clothing, home, car, etc. The Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever has eaten from such greens as garlic, onions or leek should keep away from our mosque.” Many smokers try to hide the smell by using breath mints or perfume. This does not get rid of the smell, it only masks it. Often the combination of smells is even more nauseating.
• Waste of Money
Allah says, "...But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the devils...” (Qur'an 17:26-27} And in an authentic hadith the Prophet said that: "Allah hates for you three things: gossiping, begging, and wasting money." In the U.S. and other countries, cigarettes are taxed heavily in order to discourage this habit and reimburse the government for the overwhelming health care costs to care for those afflicted with diseases caused by smoking. Smokers often spend thousands of dollars a year that literally just go up in smoke.


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