(15) Smokers, heed the advice in the spirit of Islam

Smokers, heed the advice in the spirit of Islam

By Shaik Kadir

Recently when I asked a friend who has been smoking for 45 years to quit smoking, he said, “This is my little enjoyment. It’s my little pleasure in life.”

Luckily he did not succumb to any major health problems, but not every smoker is lucky. Most would have succumbed to various health ailments at various stages of their lives.

Smoking cigarettes, long known to cause lung cancer and heart diseases, has also been found by American and other researchers recently to cause various other diseases like diabetes, liver cancer and erectile dysfunction as well as health problems such as tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis because of the chemicals they contained in modern manufacturing of cigarettes.

Singapore’s health authorities work closely with world health bodies in taking various measures to curb smoking, including holding anti-smoking talks and “Quit Smoking” clinics. Cigarette packs display graphic warning labels of gory images, like images of seriously-affected cancer patients and diseased lung and lips to make a smoker aware of the health consequences of smoking every time he holds a cigarette pack to draw out a cigarette to smoke.

Because smoking is harmful even to someone standing next to a smoker, it has been banned at many buildings, restaurants and other public places, including at the bus-stops.

Other nation-wide smoking ban includes areas such as covered walkways and common areas of residential buildings. A fine is imposed on those who flout the law.

A new initiative, a smoke-free zone, took effect recently in Nee Soon South as a one-year pilot-project. Smokers are urged to use smoking “sheds” instead of puffing away in the open. Volunteers, trained by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), go about the zone advising smokers who smoke in the open to use the “sheds”. They also give them copies of the HPB booklet which provides tips on how to quit smoking.
A Smoking Muslim?

Many Muslims do smoke. As Muslims are people who ought to observe the principles of Halalan Toyyiban (permissible and wholesome according Shariah laws), they must be careful in the kind of food and drink they consume and in the indulgence of worthless activities, like smoking. They ought to be aware that:

• Smoking brings no benefits to the function of one’s body and maintenance of health,
• It is responsible for a host of health and social problems as highlighted by our local health authorities and the World Health Organisation,
• It causes social unpleasantness of bad breath and discoloured teeth,
• It affects those around the smoker, and
• It is a wastage of money. The Qur’an says: “But squander not your wealth senselessly. Squanderers are indeed brothers of the Satan.” (Qur’an, 17:26-27).

In effect, the smoker is destroying himself.

The Qur’an advises: “And make not your own hands contribute to your destruction.” (Qur’an, 2:195)

Another kind of smoking which some people in Singapore indulge in, in recent years is shisha, mostly available in some cafes in the Kampong Glam area.

Shisha smoking has been restricted in many countries, including Malaysia and Turkey. “I wonder why shisha smoking, which is even more harmful than cigarette smoking, is not banned here,” wonders Francis Cheng, writing in the Forum page (The Straits Times, 24 December, 2013), under the heading, “(Combat) …shisha smoking”. He was referring to an article, “Shisha smoking crackdown in Kg Glam” (in The Straits Times of 20 December 2013).

Francis, in his letter, continues: “Apart from the health risk, the sight of shisha smokers puffing away in cafes damages Singapore’s reputation as an anti-smoking country and sends the wrong signal to youngsters….We should not allow youngsters to form the impression that shisha smoking is fashionable…”

Smoking leads to addiction that brings not only ill health but also anti-social behavior.

Many Muslim scholars, including prominent scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi, argue that smoking ought to be considered haram due to present-day discovery of its health risks. They say that whatever that has been proven to be harmful to the body and mind should be prohibited in Islam.

Suggestions to curb smoking

• Schools should educate their students on the health hazard of smoking and the effects of second-hand smoke on people who do not smoke. They need to inform the students not to mix with peers who smoke. They should even carry out random checks for cigarettes on their students.

• Parents need to do their part by adopting a smoke-free policy at home. Those who smoke should quit smoking themselves. Many teenagers smoke because their fathers smoke.

• Coffee shops should ensure that their “No-smoking by law” signs are strictly complied. Action should be taken against those who close an eye to their smoking customers.

• Mosques should ensure that no one smokes within the mosque compounds and also near the compound as many could be smoking just outside the compound of mosques, especially those without a wall fence.

• Religious leaders like ustazs, imams and mosque officials ought to lead the way by not smoking at all.

Smoking has an inherent addictive nature. So, do not start smoking. Muslims who smoke, should stop immediately in the spirit of Islam. Have a strong determination and will-power to kick this bad habit without delay.

Listen to God, not to the whispers of Satan. God says: “Do not kill or destroy yourselves: for verily Allah has been to you most merciful.” (Qur’an, 4:29) So, avoid smoking. “Avoid such abomination that you may prosper.” (Qur’an, 5:90)

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