Clergy Corner

Prohibition of Smoking in Islam

Ayatollah Nasir Makarem ShiraziIt has become clear to us that the risks of cigarette smoking are serious based on what a group of expert doctors and professors have stated and the showings of statistics about the deaths and illnesses caused by cigarette smoking.Ayatollah Nasir  Makarem ShiraziTranslator’s Note: Some scholars and seminary students asked Grand Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi about his scholarly reasons for prohibiting smoking. This is a brief overview of his reasons. It is intended for scholars and seminary students who are familiar with the methods of deriving Islamic law; however, it is certainly not without benefit for the layperson.

I had given this edict (Fatwa) several years ago with stipulations. I stated in Tawdih Al-Masa’il (book of Islamic laws): “If smoking cigarettes (and other such products) has a significant harm based on the testimony of experts, then it is forbidden.”

Lately, however, it has become clear to us that the risks of cigarette smoking are serious based on what a group of expert doctors and professors have stated and the showings of statistics about the deaths and illnesses caused by cigarette smoking. Even the children and those who interact with smokers are not immune from its harms. Therefore, we gave an edict that it is unconditionally forbidden to smoke cigarettes. We ask God to protect all of the Muslims, especially the youth, who are the first victims to this life-ruining calamity, and that they are intelligently careful in regards to themselves, those around them, and their friends. God-willing, we will be alive to see our society cleansed from this smoke-filled pollution.

At this point, based on the repeated request of the scholars, we will briefly refer to the methodical proofs for this matter:

  1. Verse 2:195 of the Holy Qur’an states: “Do not place yourself in ruin with your own hands.” And based on the statistics announced by doctors who specialize in this field, cigarette-related deaths reach up to five million people a year. And the statistics about the dangerous heart ailments, lung diseases, and cancers which are caused by cigarette smoke are also very high. Therefore, smoking cigarettes is a way of placing oneself in ruin.
  2. We have the rule of “no harm and causing no harm” (laa dharar wa laa dhiraar), which is derived from numerous traditions. Even though it is in relation to causing harms to others, we know that that the usage of a general intent does not limit the rule. Therefore, it also includes harm to oneself.
  3. In a well-known tradition of Fiqh Al-Ridha, it is stated: “Every affair that there is destruction in from prohibited matters …is an unlawful matter which is harmful for the body and a corruption for the soul.” There is also a similar tradition to this in Tuhaf Al-Uqool. Based on these traditions, anything that poses a serious risk of harm to a person’s body is unlawful. Certainly, trivial and minor harms that exist in all things are unavoidable and are not the intent of these traditions. What are intended are major harms.
  4. Some people have the habit of eating dirt, which has been phrased as a form of evil whisperings in Islamic traditions. And it has been sternly forbidden, because it harms people. A tradition says, “Eating dirt brings about illness in the body and stimulates pain.” Therefore, the first reason that the late Shaheed has mentioned for its unlawfulness in his book Al-Masaalik is bodily harm. All of this shows that prohibition of harmful things are clear; even an obligatory fast that is harmful must be abandoned, and obligatory baths (Ghusl) and ablutions (Wudhu) turn to Tayammum if they are harmful.
  5. Beyond all of this, and based on the clear principle of “whatever that sound intellect rules, Islamic law rules”, there is no room for doubt about the prohibition of cigarettes and other forms of smoking in our day and age, where its significant harms have become clear to all scientists. The edicts of all the religious authorities forbidding narcotics are derived from what was stated here.

Some Alarming Statistics

  • Close to ten million smokers in Iran spend more than three billion Toman a day on cigarettes (meaning more than one trillion Toman yearly).
  • On average, governments spend twice as much as is spent on cigarettes on dealing with smoking-related illnesses, an amount close to 6 billion toman daily and 2 trillion a year in Iran.
  • The youth and adolescents (the ages between 10 to 15) are the real targets of cigarette companies and are at high risk of starting and becoming addicted to smoking.
  • Cigarettes are a trap for youth getting addicted to smoking and drugs and getting caught up in other social corruptions.
  • Non-smokers, especially the spouses and children of smokers, are at risk from the dangers of smoking just as much as smokers. These innocent individuals forcibly face health risks.
  • American cigarette companies produce more than six billion cigarettes a year, close to 3 percent of which are used in America and the remaining 97 percent are shipped to other countries, particularly poor and developing countries. American companies make over 300 billion dollars in profits in this way, which is equal to 20 years of oil sales of Iran.

Expert Testimony

At this point, we will place the discussion in the hands of the experts who are in the forefront in fighting this affliction.  They have testified that cigarettes are the main cause or assist in the coming about of 50 types of illnesses and 20 forms of cancer. Five million people die yearly from illnesses caused by cigarettes. Ten million people died in four years during World War I, but those who die in four years from cigarettes total 20 million people.

By the year 2020, 20 million people will die yearly from illnesses related to cigarette smoking, with the difference that seven million of them will be from developing countries and 3 million from the developed countries.

The author of over a hundred books and articles on religious and social topics, including a commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi is followed as a Religious Authority by millions of Shias around the world today. He lives and teaches in the holy city of Qom, Iran.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Islamic Insights would like to thank Sayyid Baqir Imrani for translating this article from Farsi into English.

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  • mohammed.husain

    so i guess this includes hookah? Muslim culture will never be the same………

  • mohammed.husain

    I guess, one more similarity with the Mormons. I guess all we have left is chai.

  • Abu Talib

    Why would we want anything harmful to be left in our lives? Isn’t the point to attain all forms of benefit and lose all forms of harms?

    And it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know. (2:216)

  • Falah

    Salam Alaikum,

    It is very encouraging Fatwa and to be safe it is very important to include a jpg of the fatwa signed by Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi

    Jazak Allah Kheer, Falah

  • Taz

    “Muslim culture will never be the same………” Sheesha is not Muslim culture, it is Arab culture, please differentiate the 2 🙂

  • mohammed.husain

    the comment about hookah was made in jest and wasn’t made to be taken seriously. I respect the fatwa as a logical deduction from one of the principles of our jurisprudence. Namely the issue of “no harm and causing no harm” (laa dharar wa laa dhiraar).

    But for the sake of historical accuracy, the water pipe was actually invented by the Iranians, and because it has been picked up by many neighboring Muslim peoples (Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Pakistanis and now Muslims in American and Europe) I used Muslim culture, but not in the sense of what is normative for Muslims.

  • Smoker

    im muslim girl who lives around a whole family smokers and now im a addicted to smoking….i cant stop please help even my teachers and freinds smoke 🙁

    • PinkMuslimah

      Keep trying. Your efforts are rewarded, even if you don’t feel it (“feeling the blessing” is just a Christian concept, anyway). I know the power of addiction that cigarettes have, especially for people who are prone to addictive tendencies. But don’t stop trying to quit. Even reducing how much you smoke will lengthen your life.

  • Sukaina

    Smoker there is no such thing as CANT. if u out ure mind to it, anything is possible I would advise u to see images of rotten lungs or something like tht which can probably have more of an impact on u. if not for urself, stop smoking for those around u! ure family might learn from u too.

  • Ali Rasheed

    How about food that might be injurious to health in the long-term? like fried chicken.

  • Hajj Ridha

    @Ali Rasheed… seriously??

    as far as hookah, it has been proven that hookah is far more dangerous than cigarettes… the difference is that people do not carry around little packs of hookahs in their pockets to smoke everyday all day……

    people should refrain from all forms of smoking. regardless of whether or not your particular marja has deemed it haram or not, it is not an intelligent thing to do.

  • Ali Mn

    Clearly addictive smoking is haram and there is no question left in this matter.

    At the same time i take fault in the following statement: ‘Cigarettes are a trap for youth getting addicted to smoking and drugs and getting caught up in other social corruptions.’

    So if someone smokes they are bound to fall into hard drugs and other social corruptions (such as prostitution, drinking, partying)?? I think not. Lets leave out these faulty statements and stick with facts.

    • masooma

      As someone from a family with smokers and who has also read research, I can attest that smoking is often a characteristic of people with addictive tendencies and does tend to be associated with other addictions such as alcohol and drugs, and that smokers, at least in the U.S., are also more likely to associate with and be tempted by people engaged in such risky behaviors. It does not mean “bound to” fall into those behaviors, but the likelihood does increase.

    • Hajj Ridha

      to use words like “clearly” and “no question” displays your lack of study in the matter….. there is a reason that the majority of maraja have not said it is haram…. this is why i said that regardless of the fatawa it is still unintelligent…. i am in a family of smokers, and it is a drug, one that deteriorates the quality of life and controls the actions of those who smoke.

      and yes, unfortunately one who is addicted to smoking is a sign of an addictive personality and is easily fallen into other addictions (maybe not extremes like drinking but many levels of addiction)

      also, when one thinks smoking is ok, it is not far off to believe that smoking weed is also (because it is far less harmful physically than the nicotene in cigarettes)… so yes it can be a gateway, as it has been for so many of those i know.

      if it is haraam, we need to stay away…. if it is not haraam, i think our scholars need to rethink objectively and deem it so…. and if they dont, then we need to be intelligent health conscious people and refrain….

      • ummm…

        you can’t “deem” something haram, it either is or is not, as decided upon by god.
        in the case of a mind-affecting drug, it is. so hey, tobacco is haram.

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