Say ‘No’ to Shisha Smoking

By Nazish Shekha

When the ban on smoking tobacco in public places came into effect in 2007 in many parts of the world, the traditional way of shisha (water pipe) smoking was included in the ban. This surprised many shisha users, as there is an age-old belief that shisha is a ‘safe’ way of smoking. In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), shisha smokers may inhale as much smoke in one session as given off by a hundred cigarettes. So, shisha smokers and those sitting around them, are exposed to the same risks as other forms of smoking.

Its other names include the hubbly-bubbly, narghile or the hookah, depending which part of the world it is used in. It is used all over Asia and Africa. As shisha smoking is a social activity, in many villages it is done together as a family, where children are also encouraged to join in. In Arab culture, offering the shisha to a guest is a sign of respect. In the past twenty years, it has become a popular feature of Arab cafés worldwide, as it is associated with Arab culture.

It is thought that the shisha came about in the seventeenth century in India. Emperor Akbar’s Hakim is said to have invented the shisha. The idea was that when smoke passed through the shisha, all of the harmful qualities would be removed. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, even nicotine does not get absorbed in water and gets passed on to the smoker. (Nicotine is a component of tobacco, which is associated with addiction to smoking).

The Shisha apparatus has four main parts to it. The head is where the tobacco is placed. Usually charcoal is used to light the tobacco. Smoke then passes through the body, bubbling into the bowl of water and coming out through the hose to the smoker.

The flavoured tobacco tends to contain about 80 to 85% fruit and 10-15% tobacco. One session usually lasts for about 45 minutes. The ingredients are packed in aluminum foil. Depending on its quality, aluminum foil can react with burning charcoal to give off aluminum fumes, which can cause cancer.

When smoke passes through water, its humidity increases – thus it tends to stay in the lungs for a longer time. This increases the exposure to tobacco pollutants. The main pollutants are tar and carbon monoxide (CO).

According to a report published by the French Anti-Tobacco Agency (as reported in AFP), smoking shisha gives off as much carbon monoxide as 15 to 52 cigarettes, and as much tar as 27 to 102 cigarettes. Even minimal exposure to cigarettes is harmful. Carbon monoxide is poisonous to the red blood cells of the body. This has an effect on the amount of oxygen reaching the vital organs of the body.

Tar is associated with lung cancer. Although a lot more research on the effects of shisha smoking is needed, initial findings in Saudi Arabia and Egypt point toward a link between shisha smoking and different types of cancer.

In a typical shisha session in a café or some other sort of gathering, the shisha gets passed around, so the mouthpiece is shared. This can lead to communicable diseases like Hepatitis C and other viral infections.

Tobacco use will kill one billion people in the twenty-first century, if the current smoking trends continue. In addition to the fact that the smoking habit is unhealthy for the smoker, it is also harmful to other people. Shisha has been discovered to be a major source of pollution in closed and public areas like Shisha Cafes. This is the reason why many countries are observing the ban on public smoking.

Another problem associated with smoking any form of tobacco is that it can be expensive. This is especially true about shisha. Expensive and addictive habits can have a negative impact on a person’s personality and lifestyle. Things can get out of hand and disrupt everyday lives. It can also lead to other more destructive habits.

Looking at the detrimental nature of smoking tobacco, we as Muslims should strictly discourage smoking. Although there is no direct reference in the Quran and Hadeeth against smoking, we have been taught in our religion that we should not harm others in any way. Smoking in any form is regarded as a nuisance by non-smokers.

Our religion asks us to live in a responsible way. This means that a Muslim should care about the use of time and resources – to ensure that he/she does not waste it. The time and money spent on smoking a shisha could be utilized in a more rewarding way.

One of the greatest gifts from Allah (swt) is our health. We should be thankful for this blessing and avoid using things that would put it in jeopardy. The evils of tobacco were unknown almost four centuries ago when Hakim Abul Fath invented the shisha. With the knowledge available about shisha smoking today, it is important that we forgo it.

Just how Harmful is Anger to one’s Health?

By Uzma Jawed

It’s extremely hot, the car’s air-condition isn’t working, and you are stuck in traffic. The traffic slowly starts moving, but for some reason the car in front of you doesn’t. You slowly feel the tension build up, and you start honking and screaming at the car in front of you. Later, when you walk across a busy street, someone bumps into you accidentally, and you start screaming and pushing that person.

We all face situations like this. Everyone feels angry at times due to life stresses, such as financial problems, marital problems, health problems, etc. For some, if anger occurs too frequently, lasts too long or intensifies, it can affect them physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically.

Anger is a powerful emotion, and a myriad of research shows that it can have disparaging results on human health. It can impair our cardiovascular system, have an impact on our immune system, brain, weight, and even cause skin and hair problems.

Cardiovascular system

In his book “Forgive for Good,” Dr. Frederic Luskin says that certain enzymes are released during anger and stress, which causes cholesterol and blood pressure levels to go up. Sue Meyers, a family sociologist, explains in her article that anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain then diverts the blood away from the gut towards the major muscle groups. This causes heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to increase. Furthermore, at times of anger, pulse rate rises above its normal level leading to higher blood pressure in the arteries, hence, causing a greater chance of a heart attack.

An article called “Anger is Hostile to Your Heart,” published in the Harvard Gazette, further proved that irritable old men had three times the risk of heart disease than their more steady peers. Moreover, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggested that anger and hostility can provoke the creation of inflammatory proteins, which may, in turn, cause the hardening of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke.

Scientists of the John Hopkins University at Baltimore have also found that short-tempered men have a higher risk of heart attack, even if there is no family history of health problem.

Immune system

Our immune system also becomes more vulnerable at times of stress, since the rush of cortisol overpowers the white blood cells and makes them less responsive to pathogens, hence, increasing chances of bacterial and viral infections. Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine state that chronic stress delays wound healing from 24% to 40%.


When cortisol and insulin escalate during periods of stress, so does our desire for food. We crave more carbohydrates and sugary foods, as they temporarily reduce the stress levels. As the levels of cortisol remain high even when stress levels go down, we tend to keep eating, even if we are not hungry. As a result – we get fat.

Skin / Hair

The article “Distress Signals” in the Weekend also mentions that anger and stress can release hormones that fuel the overproduction of the sebaceous gland. This can result in hair loss as well as dull and lifeless hair. The oiliness produced by these glands can also block pores, hence, causing pimples and acne.

Psychological symptoms

Some psychological and behavioral symptoms that have also been correlated to anger include: panic attacks, reactive depression, confusion, tearfulness, irritability, and obsession. These are the results of an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hence, if a person does not identify the root of his anger for controlling or redirecting it, he can cause great damage to himself and others around him.

Medicine for Anger

Avoid being too sensitive to provocation. Divert yourself.

“Speak, when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This quote by Ambrose Bierce shows us the advantages of controlling our anger and temper, and redirecting our mind from upsetting feelings. In this way, we can have peace of mind instead of a conflict. An effective method, which Prophet Muhammad (sa) once taught a man, was to take a sip of water and not swallow it, while he was angry with his wife. A couple of months later, the man came back to the Prophet (sa) and told him that it had worked.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. As we have two ears and one mouth, we should use them proportionally.

If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation, until you cool down.

Try to identify the problem and think of possible strategies to solve the situation.

Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or reading a book.

Do regular exercise, as this will help increase your tolerance level.

Inspiration from the Quran 

It has also been revealed in the Quran that forgiveness is a superior moral trait: “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would tryly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:43)

For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate, and tolerant people “who repress anger, and who pardon men.” (Al-Imran 3:134)

“Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nur 24:22)

“The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (At-Taghabun 64: 14)

One of the divine attributes of Allah (swt) is patience. The Quran says: “…and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

Sabr in Arabic has a richer meaning than the word patience. It means to stop oneself from despairing and panicking. Additionally, it means to stop one’s tongue from complaining and controlling one’s rage in times of stress. As Javed Mohammad, the author of “Riding the Roller Coaster,” elaborates, it encompasses holding back, as well as moving forward with courage and perseverance.

Conclusively anger is detrimental to a person’s physical health as well as spiritual being. The myth of ‘letting out the steam’ is just that – a myth. It has never helped anyone stay in good shape and acquire a positive frame of mind. So just get rid of those angry thoughts that instigate negative reactions. There is so much more to do than waste precious moments of life!

Shariah Rulings on Smoking

smokingNaissance of Tobacco

Most likely, Mexicans were the first ones to know about tobacco – over 2500 years ago. A Spanish explorer brought the tobacco plant from Mexico to Spain during the reign of King Philip II. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, smoking became quite common all over Europe.

It was through Europe that Africans and Asians learnt about smoking. A Jewish man carried tobacco to Morocco and the neighbouring Arab countries towards the end of the 10th century after Hijra (16th century AD), while a Christian took it all the way from England to Turkey. It reached Egypt, the Hijaz, and the countries of central Africa.

Rulings on Smoking

According to Dr. Ahmed Al-Haji Al-Kardi: “Smoking has not been mentioned during the period of Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence), in which the Shariah was formalized and classified. However, following generations of Fiqh scholars took it upon themselves to study the practice of smoking, since it appeared to be an underlying cause of increasing occurrences of acts of disobedience.”

This was certainly not an impediment. However, scholars have not reached a consensus. Some consider it Haram (forbidden), while others – Makrooh (disliked). Each opinion mentions the sins, with which smoking is associated, and justifies it with Daleel (proof). Following is an analysis of the ruling that considers smoking Haram and substantiates this claim. Allah knows best.

Smoking Being Haram

Based on research, medical doctors report that smoking is harmful to health in general and is the cause of some 25 different illnesses. Hence, scholars categorize it as Haram, based on Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth: “There should be no damage made and no causing of damage” (Ibn Majah). Besides, Allah in Quran forbids believers to harm themselves: “And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever merciful.” (An-Nisa 4:29)

Tobacco kills a smoker every eight seconds. Generally, smokers are known to die 10 to 12 years earlier than non-smokers. According to data released by World Health Organization (WHO), every year tobacco kills 4.9 million people worldwide. About 500 million people alive today will be eventually killed by tobacco.

The FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) requires all tobacco companies to cover at least 30% of every cigarette pack with health warnings and to ban euphemistic adjectives, such as ‘light’ or ‘mild,’ to describe cigarettes. Even those, who manufacture it, concede to this requirement, because they are aware that smoking is injurious to health.

Tobacco contains intoxicating drugs, and all intoxicants are Haram. Umm Salamh says: “The Prophet of Allah (sa) forbade every intoxicant and everything that produces languor” (Abu Dawood).

Smoking causes bad breath, which is not permissible. This is justified by the Hadeeth narrated by Jabir: “The angels dislike, whatever the children of Adam dislike.” (Muslim)

For passive smokers, the danger of smoke doesn’t lessen. For this very reason even in secular countries, such as USA, no-smoking zones have been created not to jeopardize public health.

Smoking is a waste, and waste is Haram. The following Quranic verses support this: “.. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shaitan…” (Al-Isra 17:26-27)

Economically the downside to smoking is copious. In countries, such as USA, medical care for smoking-related illnesses costs about USD50 billion annually. Pakistan government cannot even dream of spending this kind of money on healthcare, though similar illnesses cost exorbitantly households, which have patients suffering from smoking-related diseases.

In the developing nations, where food is scarce, fertile land is used to cultivate tobacco for the top five consumers of the world: China, Japan, USA, Russia, and Indonesia. The poor simply go hungry. Many middle class people spend a large proportion of their income on tobacco rather than food.

In developed nations, careless disposal of cigarettes has been a leading cause for starting forest fires.

Pakistan — A Haven for Tobacco Industry

Dr. Zubair Shaheen reported in Dawn, how the tobacco industry has discovered a haven in many developing countries, where the regulations are often lax. To capture emerging markets, they lower the prices, advertise generously, and promote their product, especially among the youth. Pakistan Paediatric Association states that 1,000 to 1,200 children between the ages of six and sixteen years take up smoking every day.

Pakistan has ratified the FCTC, which is the world’s first global agreement devoted entirely to tobacco control. Issues addressed in the FCTC include tobacco advertising, promotion, smuggling, taxes, cessation, treatment, passive smoking, and tobacco product regulations.

The government of Pakistan has promulgated the ordinance entitled “Prohibition of Smoking at Public Places and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002” aimed to restrict the promotional campaigns of tobacco industry. These restrictions, though partial in nature, are the first statutory move towards restricting smoking. There is urgent need now for effective implementation of laws and regulations.

Ironically, according to Pakistna Tobacco Corporation, since 1947 Pakistan has earned approximately Rs.54 billion worth of revenue. It also offers jobs to nearly 2 million individuals. This can be a temptation for the government to look the other way.

The Irreversible Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

The American Council on Science and Health has disclosed the following ailments that can affect smokers:

Respiratory System

Smoking is a cause of lung cancer. It directly irritates and damages the respiratory tract, leading to bad breath, cough, sputum production, and wheezing.

Heart and Circulation

It is also responsible for Atherosclerosis (the progression of fatty deposits in the carotid artery) and Cerebrovascular accident or stroke that causes brain damage.

Eyes and Vision

Macular degeneration (irreversible form of blindness) and cataracts (clouding of the lenses) are some of the results of smoking.

Mouth and Throat

Smoking can lead to mouth, throat, and esophageal cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, and   permanent damage to the larynx tissues.

Digestive Organs

Smoking decreases esophageal sphincter pressure leading to esophagitis and to permanent esophageal stricture. It is also a risk factor for pancreatic and colon cancer.

Musculoskeletal System

Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones due to loss of bone minerals) in women and spinal disk disease in both sexes can be developed by smokers.


Infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth are more common among smokers. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is another risk factor.

The Skin

Smoking causes premature facial wrinkling through vasoconstriction of the capillaries of the face.

As rational humans, none of us would dare to consume poison, since we realize it will lead us to instant death. However, we ignore all the warnings that do not have an instant impact, such as puffing cigarettes. Whether smoking is a need, social practice, or a stress reliever, kick the habit for lifetime, before you become a statistic, too. No further evidence or debate is required to prove that if you smoke, you are on your way to taking your own life.