Fruits for the Week

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Islam is an ummatic (community) religion. Muslims have to help one another in the pursuit of anything good for the community and in the deterrence of anything bad and harmful to the community. With regard to intoxicants, Islam warns people against the danger as they affect the whole community in a number of ways. Therefore, it becomes a Muslim’s responsibility, as a member of community, to try to help anyone he knows who is about to fall victim to any of these intoxicants or have already fallen into their traps, by whatever means he can. In the above-mentioned case, at least one of the four Muslims in the group should have reminded and deterred the others from proceeding with the intention of celebrating the birthday with alcoholic drinks!

Actually very few Muslims indulge in alcoholic drinks, abuse of drugs or sniffing of glue or any other intoxicating substances. Those who easily succumb to these abuses are often the uneducated, the lowly-educated, the unemployed or the misguided Muslims. Still, low or high education should not be made an excuse because, being Muslims, they should be aware that Islam has categorically prohibited them from alcoholic indulgence under the all-comprehensive term “intoxicants”. Didn’t Allah prompt the Muslims thus: “Let them also, with a will, listen to My call.” (Qur’an 2: 186)? However, what these unfortunate people need is Islamic counselling, including Islamic awareness, to deter them from returning to drug indulgence and glue sniffing. Indeed many “bitten” Muslims have turned over a new leaf.  

Whilst the vast majority of Muslims would keep away from alcohol, many Muslims smoke cigarettes. This is because, unlike alcohol which is categorically prohibited by Islam under “intoxicants”, tobacco is not. Muslim scholars have hitherto considered smoking as merely makrooh (undesirable), that is, a person does not sin if he smokes but earns merits for refraining from it. However, the view that smoking is makrooh is changing. Nowadays, some Muslim scholars are interpreting smoking as coming under the all-comprehensive term “intoxicants” (alcohol and drugs), the only different is that alcohol fogs the mind but smoking does not. 

Cigarettes contain nicotine, a drug that causes addiction. Smoking, whether active or passive, causes a host of health hazards. It has been discovered to be harmful by medical researchers throughout the world. For instance, according to the Royal College of Physicians of Britain, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 100,000 people each year in Britain. It therefore, calls smoking a “hidden holocaust of death and disease”. A news report under “Smoking Facts” in the Straits Times mentions that “Tobacco is a known cause of about 25 diseases, including lung cancer, stroke and heart disease. Each year, tobacco use causes about 3.5 million deaths world-wide, or nearly 10,000 every day. In Singapore, over 2,840 people died in 1996 from smoking. Seven Singaporeans die every day from smoking-related diseases.”

Islam indeed calls for the protection of not only the soul but also the body, including one’s health. Therefore, even if ill-health or weakness begins to set inform excessive religious practices such as fasting continuously for another month or two after the Ramadhan fast, it becomes a haram practice. Today, since medical science has proven that smoking brings a host of health hazards, every Muslim should consider smoking as an un-Islamic indulgence because it does not bring any health-wise benefit to the smoker. What’s more, it is a wasteful and an extravagant activity, and wastefulness and extravagance are sinful in Islam. Also, smoking harms others, that is, a non-smoker in the home or one sitting or standing near the smoker becomes a passive smoker and gets the same ill-effect of the smoke through no fault of his.  

Among the followers of all religions who smoke, smokers who are Muslims have the easiest and best opportunity to quit smoking within a month, all by themselves – yes, within a month and without having to resort to any counselling! How? Well, this wonderful opportunity is available annually in the holy month of Ramadhan.

If a smoker has the determination and discipline not to touch cigarettes during the daylight hours in Ramadhan, why can’t he take the strict Ramadhan-training as an Islamic initiative or discipline to avoid smoking even after breaking his fast? If he has been smoking, say, 10 sticks of cigarettes before Ramadhan, surely he could not be smoking the same number of sticks within five hours, from after Maghrib to the time he goes to bed, say, at midnight! Perhaps, at most, he would smoke 7 sticks, a 30% reduction already! Surely with determination, he could progressively reduce the number of sticks he smokes, say, limiting to 7 sticks in the first week of Ramadhan, then 5 sticks in the second week, 3 sticks in the third, and finally 1 in the fourth week – and totally kicking the habit on the last day of the holy fasting month. Wouldn’t he then have cause to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with double happiness; one, for successfully completing the month’s fast and the other for successfully quitting the smoking habit? A smoker should take this as his jihad in the coming Ramadhan.

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by Shaik A. kadir