Smoking is an act of lightening a cigarette, a pipe, a cigar, a water pipe or any other object made from tobacco or material of similar effects. The object is then sucked on to extract smoke. This smoke is inhaled into the chest and then exhaled from the nose and mouth.
Smoking has become a symbol of “status” and “class” over the years. The people, especially teenagers, who have become obsequious hanger-on of the charm and glamour of Bollywood and Hollywood could easily be seen with cigarettes permanently dangling from the lower lips. It is unfortunate that the awakening among the developed countries regarding the cigarettes has impacted negatively in the third world countries. In a recent issue Radiance (March 16-22, 2008) editorially emphasised, “Because of discouraging measures adopted by western countries, the multinational cigarette companies have shifted their activities to less developed and poor countries. This makes the situation more difficult for a country like India”.
Liam Fitz Patrick writes in Time (March 7, 2005), quoting a WHO report, “About 50,000 teenagers across Asia take up smoking everyday.” According to another WHO estimation, in the next generation nearly 500 million women will take up smoking, a majority of them will be in developing countries. Most fateful is the fact that quitting-rate among the Asians is negligible: “Studies show that only two per cent Indian smokers have given up smoking. Quitting-rate is far better in the west. In UK it is 40%, in USA and Canada it is 30% and in Poland 25%.”
The problem of smoking has found a place in the Muslim societies too. However excruciating it is, the fact remains that in the Muslim countries no similar measures were exerted to protect the population from it. Offering cigarettes to guests has now come to be regarded as one of the first rules of hospitality. Even the most saint-like people delightedly arrange for a stall of cigarettes on the occasion of wedding parties. This is a bad sign. The nation which is raised to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil is itself drowned in wickedness till neck. The people, who must have led the anti-smoking, anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol movements, are not effectively doing so. Though we (as a community) are proud to say that amidst us there are least drug, cigarette, and alcohol addicts, we have a large chunk of smokers – chain smokers.
Even people who are well-educated and possess vast knowledge of Deen prefer to continue to smoke under the aegis of some isolated fatwas. They argue that smoking is only ‘makrooh’ (undesirable) and not ‘haram’ (prohibited). But a majority of Islamic scholars opine otherwise. Foremost is Yusuf al Qardhawi who in his fatawa discussed the issue at length and scrutinised all the arguments that went in favour of jawaz (permission), karahiyat (undesirability) and prohibition – he weighed on the side of prohibition. Though, he made it very clear that in Islamic Shari’ah there are various stages of haram and the prohibited thing, whose prohibition (if there is a dispute) cannot be rendered as sinful as wine or interest is. He also expressed his view that the dispute is only because that the cigarettes are an invention of the 10th century and were not there in the Prophetic times or he may well have prohibited them.
HARM TO DEEN AND IBADAH
A well-known hadith of the Holy Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) says, “Whoever has eaten garlic or onion, let him avoid us and our mosques” – there was surely no grudge against the garlic and onion which were not at all ‘prohibited’ – it was just because of their pungent smell. Smell emanating from the mouth of a smoker (even after consuming a large amount of toffees and chewing-gums) is worse and more foul than that from the mouth of one who eats garlic or onion. A smoker has two choices either to harm the people or leave the congregational prayer. The matter is not only related to mosque – what the sin a smoker’s mother, wife and children have committed that they are coerced eternally to smell that non-sense, or to smoke passively.
Besides; fasting is too hard for a smoker. Even if a “Deendar-smoker” abides by the compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan, he will hardly dream of fasting (nafl) in other days.
HARM TO HUMAN BODY
Smoking contains poisonous materials such as nicotine, tar, carbon-monoxide, arsenic, benzopyrene, benzene, cadmium, ammonia, acetone, formaldehyde, etc. These all materials are swallowed in small proportions by smokers with each new cigarette they ‘enlighten’. These toxic materials keep accumulating with time to result in gradual killing of human cells, tissues and organs. As for nicotine only, it is proved that consumption of only one milligram of it is fatal. The Holy Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) said once, “The thing which in large quantity brings nasha is prohibited even in small quantities.” Likewise the injunctions of ‘Do not kill yourselves, Allah is indeed merciful to you’ (4:29), ‘Do not cast yourselves, with your own hands, into destruction’. (2:195) also elucidate that
As suicide is haram so the gradual-suicide is;
As poison is haram slow-poison too is.
Hazards to smoking are hard to enumerate; cancer, heart-attacks, asthma, tuberculosis, infertility, nervousness, high blood-pressure etc. In Urdu daily Munsif a report on “Smoking – the largest cause of cancer” was published on March 11, 2008, detailing the perilous consequences of this deadly habit.
The report exposed that tobacco consuming not only causes lung cancer but is a great cause of limpho-sarcoma, mouth, throat, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, stomach, uterus, urinatory bladder, and several of other cancers. Smoking often results in anaemia and quite a lot of other cancers of glands and intestine. It also causes bronchitis and even paralysis.
Smoking halts the flow of oxygen in blood like alcohol though on a lesser extent. A number of mouth and teeth related diseases are consequent of smoking. It also affects fertility. In Free Press Journal a report published on May 19, 2008 pointed out, “Researchers have shown that exposure to cigarette-smoke (mind the word of the report it is “cigarette-smoke” not only smoking) slows production of a protein called FANCAZ in lung cells. This protein plays a key role in repairing damage to DNA, and causing healthy cells to commit suicide before they go on to become cancerous.”
The report thwarts a widespread mistaken belief that double and triple filtered or low-tar cigarettes are safe. It observes that more or less low-tar cigarette smoker also inhales the same amount of tar, nicotine and other cancerous elements as a normal cigarette smoker does.
HARM TO SOCIETY
The FPJ report also proves that second-hand-smoking is almost as dangerous as the first-hand. In addition to the poison normally carried in smoke, if a smoker has any contagious disease, such as tuberculosis or influenza; his exhaled smoke carries the disease to those around him. A smoker is a bad companion – but his wife and children are nevertheless compelled to live with him and his smoke. And they themselves become (indirect or passive) smokers – poor fellows. Infant mortality in infants of the smoker parents is 5% more than the non-smokers. Muhammad Al-Jibaly says, “A smoker puts himself in a selective-exile, creating a spiritual distance and hostility between him and good people and a closeness to the evil people.”
HARM TO MIND AND WILL POWER
Al-Jibaly also raises a novel and very cogent point in his article, “Smoking – a social poison”. He says, Smoking is harmful to the human mind and reason. An obvious demonstration of this is that one who is addicted to it passes through periods of severe craving, making it hard for him to think, concentrate, solve a problem, or do any important matter, until he smokes. When one smokes, his muscles slacken, and he passes through a brief period of delirium that curtains the thought. His digestive system is also affected, causing him frequent nervousness and trembling of the hands. He passes through periods of excitability, irritation, and insomnia. Thus, instead of being Allah’s slave, a smoker becomes slave to his cigarette. He develops a weaker control of his sense and reason. But he is not the only one who thinks so! As I later came to know that eminent scholar Yusuf al Qardhawi is also of the same opinion when he says, “In cigarette beside monetary and bodily harm there is yet another harm and that is the psychological harm…he becomes slave to his cigarette and could not leave it even if he wants to leave. If he doesn’t find his cigarette his mind stops working.”
WASTAGE OF MONEY
Yusuf al Qardhawi says, “Sometimes this also happens that an addicted smoker instead of spending the money on the basic needs of his wife and children smokes away the money.”
What according to you is the rational condition of a man who set ablaze his hard-earned money? Same is the case of the smoker – he wastes his money on a thing that harms and has no benefit – doesn’t he know that on the day of judgment the foot will not depart until one is questioned about five things among which a question is, from where did one earn the money and where did he spend it? Allah has said in the Qur’an, “and do not waste (your resources) extravagantly; indeed the squanderers are the brethren of the devils” (17:26-27).
CONSUMPTION OF FIRE
Mufti Abdul Wahid Makki argues that smoke is in essence – FIRE. He says that it is mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadiths that in the hereafter the guilty and polytheists will be forced to devour fire (and smoke) in hell. He has also mentioned a Hadith in which he predicted regarding the last phase of earth (before the day of judgement) that there will be deviated people who will extract-out smoke from their nose and ears for nasha.
Another aegis of smokers is this notorious argument, “It is not haram but makrooh by so and so and so muftis.” But “alas!” even this platform is taken away from under their foot by Maulana Aashiq Ali Buland Shahri who convincingly argues, “Issue of smoking has remained a contentious issue for long, but since doctors have agreed on its disastrous effects its evils are clear as a day today (as were not in the past), the muftis can now easily give fatwa of its prohibition.”
It is high time that people give up their petty excuses and quit this habit which not only jeopardises their life (a smoker’s age is according to a scientific research is ten year less than normal age) but also the life hereafter.
STEPS TO QUIT
Do not sit idle after reading this discourse. If you are not (as I pray) a smoker then target any one or two in your vicinity and give him this material.
If you are (most unfortunately) a casual-or-chain-smoker, even then – Do not despair of God’s mercy – decide, resolve and quit the deadly habit. When you decide on a certain course of action, place your trust in Allah (3:159)
Do not take casual smoking casually – every chain smoker was earlier a casual one. Leave smoking outright, it is easier for you.
Chain smokers need a lot of faith and determination. However it must be kept in mind that addiction to smoking cannot be more severe than addiction to liquor. Then remember the behaviour of the companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) when verses prohibiting the liquor were revealed they threw away the wine glasses which were at their lips, they spat out the wine from their mouth. Some allowed their fingers inside the throat – to vomit – and vomited out the wine which they had drunk just before reaching the news of this revelation. Follow the inspiration – throw away the cigarettes from your mouth, from your pockets, from your house and from your life – never to return again.
A strong weapon to let not the smokers quit the habit is the fraud and deception of Satan that quitting must be gradual. Do not follow any gradual process to end. If you believe in yourself and are sure of Allah’s grace then stop right away. “It isn’t difficult to do,” Fitz Patrick quotes Hugan, “if you keep the health of your loved ones in mind.” To add also keep your health, wealth and hereafter in mind – you will surely take courageously the right decision.
Avoid company of smokers and smoking environment.
Do not at all be impressed less to emulate by the pomp and leisure of so-called stars of Bollywood/Hollywood/Cricket etc. if they appear on screen with cigarettes. Just assume that they are getting paid to spoil your life. Be not fool, please!
Al-Jibaly also suggests some change in diet, by abstaining from foods and drinks that entice the craving to smoke such as spices, meat, tea and coffee. He also recommended to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
One can also use medically tested and established procedures to help stop smoking, consultation to the physicians or various anti-smoking societies may also prove of assistance. Books like Allen Carr’s Early way to stop smoking may be of help.
Excessive prayers, special Salats and a busy and purposeful life also help one to stay quit.
But it must be confessed that no suggestion could work until one makes a firm pledge and acts accordingly – with God overhead and heart within.