Hungry for Ramadan

Hungry for Ramadan

A Golden Opportunity to Curb Addiction

shisha_smoking.jpgOne of the restrictions during Ramadan, aside from the obvious food/drink/sexual relations, is smoking. And one of the saddest things I have seen in my life is the group of smokers gathering just outside the mosque, craning their necks to hear the adhan (call to prayer) that signifies the end of the fast, waiting to break their fast not with a date, or a glass of water, but with a cigarette.
Smoking has always been a questionable practice from an Islamic perspective — some scholars deem it to be forbidden because it harms the body, while others find it allowable if distasteful. But you wouldn’t know it from walking down the street in any Muslim-majority country. As the pool of customers for cigarettes dries up in the West, the tobacco industry has targeted the developing world, including the Muslim world. In some of these countries, cigarette smoking among men has reached reached alarming proportions.
Also, it’s not just cigarettes. The Middle East has a long tradition of shisha (or hookah) pipe smoking. With the more explicit prohibition on alcohol, shisha pipes are seen as a lesser evil in the context of social activities. Even today in Western countries, the practice has caught on with young people seeking a cultural alternative to bars and clubs where alcohol is served.


When someone who has abstained from food and drink all day chooses to light up rather than satisfy a primal bodily need, you can be pretty sure that person is facing an addiction. And increasingly in Muslim circles (not just in the West but in predominantly Muslim countries as well), scholars and health activists are encouraging Muslims to use Ramadan as an opportunity to kick the habit for good.
Interestingly, new smoking bans in the West may help make it easier to stick to a Ramadan resolution. In London, a smoking ban enacted in July included the city’s many shisha cafes in Arab neighborhoods (though in Vancouver, Canada, shisha cafes were controversially exempted under a similar ban). And anti-smoking campaigns geared towards Muslims are using Qur’anic texts to kick the guilt up a notch.
But it isn’t just addictions to smoking that Muslims should keep in mind. The fast itself directly curbs compulsive eating — no more coffee and Krispy Kremes before lunch! Addictions to television, video games, and other more sublime intrusions into your daily routine can be curbed during a month which mandates a fresh look at who you are and what is needed to nourish your soul.
As for addictions to the Internet — well, that’s one I still have to work on.

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posted October 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm

i believe in freedom of choice but i would say that cigarettes should be haram. if you look at the reasons for things being haram (alcohol, gambling, adultery) they are forbidden because they harm society and the family structure.
cigarettes are now known to cause cancer, as well as other diseases, and are becoming increasingly more expensive. if a mother or father dies of cancer, or any family member, this causes an unnecessary strain on the family. spending $7 a day on cigarettes is taking money away from more important things… ie. food for your family or zakat (charity) you can be spending in your community to better someone elses life.
like i said, i believe in freedom of choice but i think Muslims should start looking at why certain things are haram and see if it applies to their cigarette smoking.
as the well-known hadith says, your body has rights over you.

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posted October 4, 2007 at 3:46 pm

I understand why someone can look at smoking as haram, however I don’t understand why it has become the whipping boy in society. There are other things that can kill people and other things people spend money on. Smoking can cause cancer, however non-smokers get cancer, too. Should their activities be banned, too? How about people who get killed in car crashes? Should cars be banned? People also spend money on games, movies, junk food, coffee, etc. Should they stop spending that money and give it to charity, their family, etc? Where I live, I can get my brand of cigarettes for a little under $2 a pack. That’s cheaper than when I get a $4 coffee and lasts longer.
People look at things in different ways and that is why they have different views on smoking. I think as long as you are careful who you smoke around, then it really is no one’s business. I think it is stupid to ban smoking in a bar. Um, what do you expect?! But I also think it’s sad to want to break your fast with a cigarette instead of water/food. By the end of the day, a cigarette is the last thing on my mind, I want something to drink more than anything.
I guess I just don’t know why anyone else would care. As long as smoke is not being blown into your face, then I don’t see it as a problem. To each his own.

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posted October 5, 2007 at 3:26 am

Allah said “Do not kill yourselves” 4:29. Smoking is a poison that slowly kills you, driving is not.

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posted October 5, 2007 at 7:39 am

“Smoking is a poison that slowly kills you”
So are saturated fats
ummmm… saturated fats (drools)

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posted October 5, 2007 at 8:10 am

Half the stuff we put into our bodies is killing us: preservatives, high frutose corn syrup, dyes and God knows what else. Even fruits and vegetables are covered in pesticides and wax and those that aren’t are recalled because of e-coli.
Also, just because someone smokes, doesn’t mean that it will kill them. There are many people who smoke who do not die because of it. Obviously it isn’t good for you, but it’s not always the culprit. Close to where I live there is a pharmaceutical company who releases smoke into the environment all day. I wonder what I’m picking up everyday I take a breath of air outside. And that’s what I mean, you can judge something unhealthy, but when you look at it, most of what is going into our bodies and lungs is not exactly pure and healthy. I’m not saying people should smoke, but the arguement ‘it’s killing you’ just doesn’t work for me when I consider that I’m probably killing myself by eating and breathing anyway.

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