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Is Smoking Shisha/Hookah Haram?

Is Smoking Shisha/Hookah Haram?


As salamu alaykum. I see a lot of young Muslims going to do shisha/hookah on a regular basis. I was wondering what the Islamic perspective on the permissibility of smoking sheesha is?

Wa alykum as-salaam,

Unfortunately, there are some Islamic scholars who have issued fatawa (plural of fatwa) that have declared smoking tobacco products to be “makruh” or “detested” which is below the level of “haram” or “impermissible.” People forget that scholars have their own desires, preferences, and perceptions, and generally, the scholars who say that smoking is makruh are generally the scholars who smoke themselves.

Regardless of that fact, I cannot agree with this formulation, at all, because The Qur’an has established something quite clear: things that bring you harm, are not to be engaged in.

Now, before I get into further arguments about this issue, I would like to preempt the argument that I get whether I discuss cigarettes, shisha, marijuana, or what-have-you. If you would like to make a parallel between substance X and sugary, fatty foods let us be quite clear, there is a genuine difference here between the use of a substance and the consumption of fatty foods.

With food, this is part of an action that you must do anyways, and that anything done in excess, like eating, will invariably hurt you; whether that is eating, working out, or even washing your hands (please wash your hands, just don’t do it Howard Hughes style). Thus, the difference between fatty and sugary foods (with the substances in question) is, again, food is something we must use, while smoking and drinking (alcohol) are not necessary actions. Granted, excessive eating should not be condoned, nor encouraged, but banning someone from eating candy outright, saying it is analogous to tobacco or alcohol is clearly a fallacious argument.

If you would like to debate this topic more, please do so with someone else, as I am quite rigid in my opinion on this matter, and do not care enough about it to even attempt to change it. Candy and tobacco are not the same.

That being said, the idea that shisha is “okay,” confuses me. The Qur’an is quite clear on how we should deal with ourselves:

“…and let not your own hands throw you into destruction; and persevere in doing good: behold, God loves the doers of good.” [2:195] Muhammad Asad

So, we are not supposed to do things that will harm ourselves, and I feel the general import of this phrase is quite wide for good reason: we should not think of this injunction as something that is limited to the physical realms, but rather, our mental health, our emotional well-being, and our personal self-worth.

Thus, it is from this perspective that I find shisha to be impermissible, and that is beyond the various scientific studies which have found that “At the worst, shisha was 400 to 450 times more dangerous than having a cigarette,” according to Dr. Hilary Wareing of the Tobacco Control Collaboration Centre. This evidence has been echoed by research that is emerging at amazing centers of learning, such as the Mayo Clinic, who specifically attack the myth that shisha is “better” than cigarette smoke, while underlining that the duration of the smoking session also dramatically increases the risk to the smoker. More information on the issue can be found here.

Thus, from the perspective of the harm that is done to the individual who consumes these products (shisha, among other tobacco-related products) I cannot condone the use of them, and there is tremendous evidence by various jurists and scholars who confirm my perspective.

Granted, I have never smoked, so perhaps I do not “understand” the supposed “benefits” of shisha, which perhaps renders my opinion to be void. Though, to be completely fair, I do have a sweet tooth, which I have admitted to before, just for full disclosure.

Insha Allah, I hope this answers your question, and if you, or anyone else, has a question on this, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to ask me.

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