Is Smoking Allowed in Islam?

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Islamic scholars have historically had mixed views about tobacco, and until recently there has not been a clear, unanimous fatwa (legal opinion) on whether smoking is allowed or forbidden for Muslims 

Islamic Haram and Fatwa

The term haram refers to prohibitions on behaviors by Muslims. Forbidden Acts that are haram are generally those clearly prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and Sunnah, and are regarded as very serious prohibitions.

Any act that is judged haram remains prohibited no matter what the intentions or purpose behind the act.

However, the Quran and Sunnah are old texts that did not anticipate the issues of modern society. Thus, additional Islamic legal rulings, the fatwa, provides a means for making judgement on acts and behaviors not clearly described or spelled out in the Quran and Sunnah. A fatwa is an legal pronouncement handed down by a mufti (an expert in religious law) dealing with a specific issue. Generally, this issue will be one involving new technologies and social advances, such as cloning or in-vitro fertilization Some compare the Islamic fatwa ruling to the legal ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, which issues interpretations of laws for individual circumstances. However, for Muslims living in western countries, a fatwa is regarded as secondary to the secular laws of that society—the fatwa is optional for the individual to practice when it conflicts with secular laws.

Views on Cigarettes

Evolving views on the subject of cigarettes came about because cigarettes are a more recent invention and did not exist at the time of the revelation of the Quran, in the 7th century CE. Therefore, one cannot find a verse of Quran, or words of the Prophet Muhammad, saying clearly that "cigarette smoking is forbidden."

However, there are many instances where the Quran gives us general guidelines and calls upon us to use our reason and intelligence, and to seek guidance from Allah about what is right and wrong. Traditionally, Islamic scholars use their knowledge and judgment to make new legal rulings (fatwa) on matters that were not addressed in the official Islamic writings. This approach has support in the official Islamic writings. In the Quran, Allah says,

...he [the Prophet] commands them what is just, and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good, and prohibits them from what is bad... (Quran 7:157).

The Modern Viewpoint

In more recent times, as the dangers of tobacco use have been proven beyond any doubt, Islamic scholars have become unanimous in pronouncing that tobacco use is clearly haram (forbidden) to believers. They now use the strongest possible terms to condemn this habit. Here is a clear example:

In view of the harm caused by tobacco, growing, trading in and smoking of tobacco are judged to be haram (forbidden). The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, 'Do not harm yourselves or others.' Furthermore, tobacco is unwholesome, and God says in the Qur'an that the Prophet, peace be upon him, 'enjoins upon them that which is good and pure, and forbids them that which is unwholesome. (Permanent Committee of Academic Research and Fatwa, Saudi Arabia).

The fact that many Muslims still smoke is likely because the fatwa opinion is still a relatively recent one, and not all Muslims have adopted it yet as a cultural norm. 

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Huda. "Is Smoking Allowed in Islam?" ThoughtCo, Jan. 15, 2018, thoughtco.com/is-smoking-allowed-in-islam-2004327. Huda. (2018, January 15). Is Smoking Allowed in Islam? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/is-smoking-allowed-in-islam-2004327 Huda. "Is Smoking Allowed in Islam?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/is-smoking-allowed-in-islam-2004327 (accessed January 20, 2018).