Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products is a complex issue in Islam that has sparked much debate among Islamic scholars regarding whether it is haram (forbidden and sinful) or makruh (disliked). There are reasoned arguments on both sides of this issue stemming from the lack of definitive guidance in primary Islamic texts. This comprehensive article will dive deep into the evidence and jurisprudential principles that relate to the permissibility of smoking in Islam.
Overview of Smoking’s Unclear Status in Islamic Law
Unlike alcohol consumption, there is no clear scriptural statement on the lawfulness of smoking tobacco in Islam. Opinions among Islamic experts differ based on the strength they apportion to various relevant principles and proofs:
Some jurists opine smoking is makruh since it is not explicitly prohibited in the Quran or Hadith. They argue that any prohibition must come directly from authentic primary texts to classify something as outright haram.
Other scholars contend smoking violates established Islamic legal maxims related to harming oneself and consuming intoxicants. They extrapolate that despite the lack of explicit mention, smoking contradicts core objectives of Shariah.
Many observant Muslims regard smoking as makruh (disliked) and avoid it in sacred spaces like mosques and during Ramadan out of respect, but still hesitate to declare it completely haram.
An increasing number of contemporary fatwas deem smoking haram due to medical evidence of tobacco’s harmful and addictive properties. They rule that Islam’s goal of preserving life and health makes smoking impermissible.
This lack of consensus stems from the fact that tobacco use became prevalent Muslim societies long after the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) time. However, traditional jurisprudential principles allow deducing rulings on modern matters not directly addressed in scripture. Analysis of smoking through this lens puts it in clear conflict with Islamic objectives.
Point-Counterpoint on Smoking Permissibility in Islam
Since Islamic experts and bodies of legal thought disagree over classifying smoking as allowed or forbidden, it is worth analyzing the evidence and arguments on both sides of the debate:
Cases made for smoking permissibility
- The Quran and Hadith contain no explicit prohibition of smoking tobacco. Some argue that silence or lack of mention indicates lawfulness.
- Tobacco use was unknown during the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, so no guidance exists. Some argue matters arise later cannot be ruled haram by inference alone.
- Smoking does not seem to impair the mind like intoxicating substances. So it does not fit the description of an intoxicant that alters consciousness.
- The Quran only forbids consuming harmful amounts of intoxicants. So smoking in moderation may be lawful, as its harms accrue over time.
Proponents of these views generally argue that any prohibition must come from an unambiguous, binding textual source. Principles are not enough to declare something definitively haram.
Arguments for smoking being haram
- Though not directly named, smoking essentially falls under Quranic prohibitions on self-harm and intoxication. The lack of precise wording is not disqualifying.
- Hadith forbid all intoxicants, and medical science proves nicotine alters consciousness and mental state in addictive ways like intoxicants.
- Smoking destroys life and health, which are entrusted gifts from Allah meant to be preserved.
- Secondhand smoke annoys and harms innocent non-smokers, contradicting Islamic ethics.
- The goals of Shariah like protecting life, intellect, property and honor are violated by the personal and societal effects of pervasive tobacco use.
Advocates of prohibition argue the lack of explicit mention is understandable given smoking’s late emergence. Scholars must rely on interpreting principles rather than requiring literal word-for-word proof.
Medical Research Indicates Clear Harms from Smoking
Modern medical and epidemiological research provides ample evidence showing smoking’s severe damage to personal and public health:
- Smoking combustible tobacco is proven to triple the risk of dying from heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema and other ailments. There is no safe level of consumption.
- Secondhand smoke exposure raises the incidence of lung cancer, heart disease, childhood respiratory illness and asthma attacks in non-smokers.
- Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reduced lung function and coronary heart disease.
- There are over 7000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke, including 70+ known cancer-causing carcinogens like formaldehyde, arsenic and benzene.
- Nicotine, the primary addictive chemical in tobacco, is highly effective at creating and sustaining addiction. Withdrawal symptoms make smoking cessation difficult.
- Economic costs of smoking total over $300 billion annually in the United States through lost productivity and health care costs.
This abundantly clear scientific evidence of smoking’s damage provides support for Islamic jurists seeking to prohibit smoking based on the Quranic prohibition on self-destruction. Preserving life and health is considered an imperative in Islam.
General Principles of Shariah Law Imply Smoking Is Impermissible
Looking beyond explicit scriptural sources, the higher purposes and Maqasid of Shariah point clearly towards prohibiting smoking:
Quranic verses prohibiting self-harm
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Do not harm yourself or others.” This Hadith encapsulates the Quranic decree: “Do not kill yourselves” (4:29). Smoking is a slow form of self-harm and suicide, which violates this primary principle.
Hadith regarding caring for health and community
Islam emphasizes maintaining good health and keeping environments clean as communal duties and virtues. Smoking poisons the smoker’s body and pollutes the air, contradicting these hadith-prescribed ideals.
General prohibition on intoxicating substances
Though disputed if smoking qualifies as an intoxicant, nicotine alters mood and consciousness while promoting dependence, like intoxicants. Thus, some jurists prohibit it under general rulings against drugs and intoxicants.
Causing harm to others via secondhand smoke
Exposing innocents like children or non-smokers to secondhand smoke annoys them and damages their health. This contradicts the Islamic maxim of avoiding the causing of harm or injury.
Obligation to avoid wasting money and resources
Frequent tobacco use wastes money that could be spent on family necessities. Growing tobacco uses land and resources inefficiently compared to producing beneficial crops.
Considering these fundamental Islamic legal principles and objectives, smoking is best classified as haram due to the societal and health damage it engenders.
Fatwas and Rulings from Notable Muslim Authorities
Reflecting the growing consensus against smoking within the scholarly community, many prominent Islamic thinkers and bodies have issued explicit fatwas deeming smoking haram:
- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid al-Sistani, the prominent Shi’a marja in Iraq, ruled that smoking is “absolutely unlawful” under any circumstance.
- The Late Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid, founder of the popular IslamQA website, declared smoking haram due to its intoxicating effect and harm to health and wealth.
- Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), argues “smoking is a slow way of committing suicide.”
- The Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, representing all mainstream Muslim countries, resolved that smoking is prohibited under Shariah principles.
- Prominent Islamic Mission Hospital in Durban, South Africa banned smoking on premises to uphold its commitment to public health aligned with Islamic values.
Though disagreement still exists, the tide among credible scholars and institutions is turning against smoking based on modern medical knowledge and traditional legal reasoning.
Addressing Claims that Smoking Is Only Makruh
Despite strong evidence to prohibit smoking, some respected Islamic voices still hesitate to declare it outright haram and maintain it is only disliked or makruh. How might scholars respond to such positions?
First, they may highlight that jurists deem something makruh when its harms outweigh any small benefits. With smoking, there is zero benefit, only varying degrees of harm. Thus, it meets the criteria for haram rather than just makruh.
Next, they can point out that unlike other minor makruh acts like eating while standing up, the individual and societal damage from smoking is grave. It cannot be placed in the same category.
Finally, they argue that Islam regulates harmful substances like alcohol differently than neutral foods. Though not “haram naming”, the principles designate smoking as categorically unlawful due to its unequivocal harm coupled with lack of any necessity.
Guidance for Muslims on Smoking in Light of its Prohibition
Based on the preceding arguments and evidence, Muslims should adopt the position that smoking any form of tobacco is haram except in extreme extenuating circumstances. Here is some guidance for Muslims seeking to uphold this stance:
- Seek advice and support in quitting smoking through local Imams or smoking cessation resources. Kicking addiction requires help.
- Avoid tempting situations where others will be smoking and offer salats for strength. Remember Allah knows the struggle.
- Advise family about smoking risks from an Islamic perspective and forbid smoking in your household. Children must be protected.
- Choose to not take jobs that require smoking and politely turn down offered cigarettes, explaining it is against your deen.
- If relapsing, do not lose hope. Keep striving against the addiction for the sake of Allah and your loved ones.
While occasional lapses do not eject one from Islam, believers must uphold the prohibition on smoking to the best of their ability. Through teaching and exemplifying this stance, communities can deter tobacco use aligned with Islamic ideals.
In closing, there is a valid scholarly disagreement on whether smoking is haram or makruh under Islamic law. However, upon weighing all the scriptural and interpretive proofs, the prohibition position seems the strongest and the safest for Muslim individuals and communities worldwide. Given what we know about smoking’s undeniable capacity for harm with no counterbalancing benefit, Muslims committed to their Deen and its underlying ethics should adopt the view that smoking is haram without well-justified exceptions. And Allah knows best.
Frequently Asked Questions – Is Smoking Haram
1. Is smoking haram in Islam?
Smoking is considered haram in Islam. The Quran and the hadith clearly state the harms of smoking and the general principle in Islam is to avoid anything that causes harm to oneself or others.
What does Islam say about smoking?
In Islam, smoking is clearly prohibited as it is harmful to the body and goes against the principles of preserving one’s health, which is highly emphasized in Islamic teachings. It is considered haram.
Can a smoker observe Ramadan?
While smokers are allowed to observe Ramadan, they are encouraged to quit smoking as it is considered haram and goes against the spirit of fasting and seeking spiritual growth during this holy month.
Is smoking haram or makrooh in Islam?
Smoking is deemed haram in Islam due to its harmful effects on health and well-being. It is considered a sin and forbidden by Islamic teachings.
What is the Islamic ruling on smoking cigarettes?
Smoking cigarettes is unequivocally forbidden in Islam due to its proven harm to the body and the surrounding environment. Allah and His messenger have clearly warned against engaging in such harmful practices.
Is it permissible to smoke in public according to Islam?
Smoking in public is also deemed haram in Islam as it not only harms the smoker but also exposes others to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, which goes against the principles of preserving health and well-being.