Since the first discovery of tobacco was made in America in the fifteenth century, the aepidemic of smoking has spread continuously around the world. As early as the Seventeenth Century, the European countries realised the dangers of smoking and hastened to ordain Laws in England and various other countries to prohibiting smoking. The Western countries, even today, continue their attempts in combating smoking. They employ means of media, pass legislation and apply multiple methods to discourage people from smoking.
Smoking has, to an extent, become the rule and abstaining from it the exception. Often, people look down with astonishment and contempt at a person who when a cigarette is offered to him, declines explaining that he does not smoke. Offering cigarettes to guests has become a matter of hospitality!
Furthermore, those who pretend to represent the Deen are among the worst addicts. When they are reproached or reprimanded of their vice, they respond by providing weak excuses to justify it. They slyly remark that there is no clear text prohibiting smoking. Whereby they conclude that smoking is not prohibited, but is only makruh (disliked). In this manner they provide a poor excuse for the ignorant and establish a bad example for others.
Thus, it has become necessary to write an article which provides evidence regarding the ruling of smoking in Islam. We hope that this will benefit our Muslim brothers and sisters; and we ask Allah Ta’ala to accept it from us as a sincere deed for His pleasure.
Smoking refers to the act of lighting tobacco or materials of similar effect, which is then sucked on with the lips to extract smoke. This smoke is inhaled into the chest and then exhaled from the nose and mouth. "Smoking", is now used to refer to the action of producing this smoke in English, Arabic, and other languages.
There are many reasons, any one of which are sufficient, to rule smoking as prohibited. Most importantly, it is harmful to the Deen, health, environment, family, brotherhood and social relations, property, etc.
Smoking damages a person’s act of worship, and reduces their rewards. For instance, it ruins the salaah, which is a pillar of Deen. The Prophet said: ‘Whoever eats garlic or onion, let him avoid us and our masjid, and stay in his home. The angels are surely hurt by things that hurt the human beings.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Those people, with clean and pure nature, have no doubt that the smell emanating from the mouth of a smoker is worse and more foul than that from the mouth of one who ate garlic or onion. Therefore, a smoker has two options, either to harm the praying people and the angels with his foul smell, or abstain from the prayer with jama’ah.
Smoking also ruins fasting. Fasting becomes very hard on the smoker. As soon as the day is over, he hastens to break his fast on an evil cigarette instead of sweet dates or pure water. Even if he fasts throughout the month of Ramadhaan he will be reluctant to fast on other days. Thus he loses the great reward of those who fast even one day in Allah’s path.
The harm that smoking does to the human body is undeniable. The medical evidence for this is well established and overwhelming. Because of this, the law in the United Kingdom and many other countries requires including a government health warning on the packet and on any advertisement.
Smoking contains poisonous materials, such as nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, benzopyrene, etc., which the smoker inhales in small proportions. Their harm accumulates in time, resulting in a gradual damage of the human organs and tissues.
The hazards of smoking to health are hard to count. Cancer, tuberculosis, heart attacks, asthma, coughing, premature birth, infertility, infections in the digestive system, high blood pressure, nervousness, mouth and teeth diseases, etc., are among the many health hazards that have been strongly linked to smoking.
These diseases may not all appear at once, but a smoker runs the risk of suffering from some of them, and his suffering increases as he grows older. Furthermore, statistics have established that smokers, on the average, reduce their age by ten years.
This in itself is sufficient to prohibit smoking. Islam prohibits any action that causes harm to oneself or to other people. Allah Ta’ala says :
‘Do not kill yourselves, Allah is indeed merciful to you.’
(An-Nisa’ 4-29)‘Do not cast yourselves, with your own hands, into destruction.’
(Al-Baqarah 2:195)And the Messenger says: ‘No harm may be inflicted on oneself or others.’
(Ahmad and Ibn Maajah from Ibn Abbaas and Ubaadah)‘The feet of a human being will not depart, on the day of Judgement, from his standing before his Lord, until he is questioned about five things: his lifetime - how did he pass it, his youth - how did he used it, his wealth - where did he earn it and how did he spend it, and how did he follow what he knew.’
(At-Tirmithi and others from Ibn Mas‘ud and Abu Barzah )‘Whoever consumes poison, killing himself with it, then he will he consuming his poison in the hellfire, and he will abide in it permanently and eternally.’
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Jaabir)Smoking is also harmful to the human mind and its power to 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.
His digestive system is also affected, causing him frequent nervousness and trembling of the hands. He passes through periods of excitability and he becomes an insomniac.
Therefore, instead of being the slave of Allah, a smoker becomes a slave to his cigarette. The faculty of reason, clear and unobstructed, is one of Allah’s great bounties on people. Allah Ta’ala has praised it in numerous places of the Qura’an; and He called on people to use it to see the truth and obey Him in a better way. Allah wants of the believer to be strong and capable of controlling the reigns of his desires. He has stated:
‘Allah wants to let you into His mercy, whereas those who follow the desires want you to drift far away (from the right path).’
(An-Nisa 4:27)A smoker also emits his poison in the faces of his companions, wife, children, and the environment. It is a well-established fact that passive smoking is almost as dangerous as first-hand. Thus, whether they like it or not, a smoker’s associates are forced to inhale the smoke and be inflicted with this poison as well.
In addition to the poison normally carried in the smoke, if a smoker has a contagious disease, such as tuberculosis or influenza, his exhaled smoke and coughing will also carry the disease to those around him.
Furthermore, a smoker regularly irritates people by the foul smell and poisonous nature of his smoking. If they suffer from asthma or allergies, they are forced to move away from his vicinity. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam said: Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt his neighbour.
(Al-Bukhari)Thus, smoking constitutes a definite harm to other people; this is prohibited, as was indicated in the Hadith cited earlier.
Also, a smoker is certainly a bad companion to sit with, as is depicted in the following Hadith:
Verily, the example of a good companion and a bad one is like that of a perfume merchant and a blacksmith: As for the perfume merchant, he would either grant you (some perfume), or you would buy (some perfume) from him, or (in the least) you would get a good smell from him. And as for the blower of the bellows (ironsmith), you would either get a foul odour from him, or he would burn your clothes.
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)A smoker wastes his wealth on that which harms and has no benefit; he will be asked about his wealth and how he spent it, as has been cited in the Hadith earlier. His wealth belongs to Allah, so how would he dare to waste it in disobedience to Him Allah Ta’ala states(what means):
‘And do not entrust to the imprudent ones the possessions that Allah has placed in your charge.’
(An-Nisa 4:5)‘And do not waste (your resources) extravagantly. Indeed the squanderers are the brethren of the devils.’
(Al-lsra’ 17:26-27)And the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam said: Allah hates for you three things: gossiping, begging, and wasting money.
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)Furthermore, there are numerous cases of carpets, furniture, and even complete houses and establishments burning down due to this disastrous vice.
Smoking is a form of moral decadence. It is spread mostly among the low-class, immoral people. It reflects blind imitation of the Kuffar and non-pious Muslims. It is mostly consumed in bars, discos, casinos, and other places of sin. A smoker may beg or steal if he does not have the money to buy cigarettes. He is ill mannered with his friends and family, especially when he misses taking his necessary "dose" at the usual time.
Smoking involves the consumption of an evil substance (khabeeth). It has a foul smell, foul taste and is harmful to the body. This is sufficient to prohibit it, because Allah Ta’ala states (what means):
‘(The Prophet ) who will enjoin upon them the doing of what is right, forbid them the doing of what is wrong, make lawful to them the good things of life, prohibit for them the evil things, and lift from them their burdens and the shackles that were (previously) upon them.’
(Al-A’raf 7:157)A smoker inhales smoke that does not give him any nourishment. This is similar to the action of the people of the Hell fire who eat harmful thorny plants:
‘No food will be there for them but a poisonous thorny plant, which will neither nourish them nor still their hunger.’
(Al-Ghaashiyah 88:6-7)A smoker, whether he likes it or not, makes an example of himself for his children and others to follow. He leads them to commit this evil. Actions sometimes have a stronger effect than words. Thus, even if he advises them or forbids them from smoking, his partaking of it provides them with a strong excuse to do it.
The problem is worse when the smoker is of known piety or knowledge. In such case, his harm becomes more emphasised, because more people take him as guide and example and are thus lead astray by him. This multiplies his sins and increases his burden.
The majority of good people avoid smoking and stay away from smokers. Therefore, a smoker would be forced to stay away from them - at least while he smokes. He puts himself in selective exile, creating a spiritual distance and hostility between him and the good people, and a closeness to the evil people. The effects of this become more apparent and acute with time. Note that this applies equally to any sin that a person commits either large or small.
A smoker despises himself, because he feels that a little cigarette is controlling him. Realising his weakness due to his desire, this creates in him a feeling of defeat in the face of hardships.
Since smoking became known to Muslims, all of the great scholars who have the capability of Ijtihad (deriving verdicts in new situations) agree to its prohibition. Thus, there is no value for baseless opinions, conflicting with this, provided by self-proclaimed lesser scholars.
In discussing the subject of the prohibition of smoking, there are some important warnings that need to be mentioned:
1. As indicated before, the prohibition of smoking is not restricted to cigarettes, but applies as well to other objects that have similar effects such as cigars, pipes, water-pipes, chewing tobacco or sniffing tobacco, etc.
2. The reasons mentioned above for prohibiting smoking apply as well, and more strongly, to various types of drugs such as hashish marijuana and ecstasy. These materials have additional problems such as causing drunkenness, death, madness, etc.
3. The prohibition of smoking is not restricted to consuming it, but applies as well to offering it to people, sitting with those who are smoking, or selling it. All of this involves helping people commit sins, which is prohibited, as Allah Ta’ala states (what means):
‘Help one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sinning and transgression. And fear and revere Allah; verily, Allah is severe in punishment.
(Al-Maidah 5:2)Also, Allah’s Messenger said: Indeed when Allah prohibits something, he prohibits eating its price.
(Ahmad and Abu Dawud: Ibn Abbas; authenticated by al-Albaani)Only few of those addicted to smoking are able to stop it. The reasons for this are many, among which are the following:
(a). The addictive nature of the poisonous substances contained in it.
(b). The smokers are not totally convinced of its prohibition.
(c). They do not have a strong determination to refrain from it.
The following are some suggestions to help a person stop smoking:
1. Rely on Allah sincerely, with full determination not to return to smoking, in compliance with Allah’s command:
‘When you decide on a certain course of action, place your trust in Allah.’
(Al-lmran 3:159)2. Stop immediately instead of claiming it is best to do it gradually. The gradual approach is the way of one who does not trust his determination and the will power that Allah has granted him. Let the example be taken from the Sahabah who, as soon as Allah’s command reached them regarding alcohol:
‘Will you not then desist?’ (Al-Maa’idah 5:91) they immediately poured out all the alcohol that they had and said, "We desist our Lord, we desist!" They did this despite the fact that alcohol has a greater addictive power over those who drink it.
3. Avoid the bad company of smokers and smoking environments that are full with the smell of smoke.
4. Change the food diet by abstaining from foods and drinks that would entice the craving to smoke such as spices, meat, tea, and coffee; and eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
5. Use medically tested and established procedures to help stop smoking, as directed by physicians, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, etc.
6. Expel the secret whispers of Satan who continuously dictates to the human being that he is weak and incapable of refraining from sinning, as Allah Ta’ala states (what means):
‘It is but Satan who instils (into you) fear of his allies; so do not fear them, but fear Me if you are (truly) believers.’
‘Fight then against the allies of Satan; indeed, Satan’s guile is weak.’