I know of many Muslims who are using shisha (also known as Hookah) and think there’s no harm in this. This is not the case and that’s probably because (to my knowledge) the scholars have not adequately promoted this issue – certainly I haven’t come across enough education on shisha. Shisha is the new social thing, men and women are doing it and children see this and also think there is nothing wrong. However this is a grave misunderstanding, and there is a ruling to say it is haraam (see bottom of post), and I’ll explain why. Please note that in the UK it is illegal to sell any tobacco products to anyone under 18 and this includes tobacco products for shisha pipes.
What is Shisha?
Shisha is basically a water pipe through which, fruit-scented herbs and spices (mixed with tobacco) is burnt using coal, and then this is passed through a water container and inhaled through a pipe. The pipe is normally shared between a group of people (adding to the unhealthy nature of this social past-time). In a non-ventilated room, using a shisha pipe will soon fill that room with a very light (as in hard to see) and subtle smoke – for people who are non-smokers, this will give you a slight headache (and certainly it had this effect on me – by the way I am not a shisha smoker, nor a smoker of any kind).
Latest research from the Department of Health in the UK has found that shisha tobacco can be many times more harmful than cigarettes. Tobacco is imported from a number of coutries but as there is no legislation in the UK which currently covers this, it is not something that the authorities can prevent from happening. When trying to work out what is in the tobacco, NHS lab technicians have often found ingredients which are unidentifiable and therefore a health risk as, basically, you do not know exactly what you are inhaling.
Smoking shisha can lead to carbon monoxide levels that can be 4 or 5 times higher than that of cigarettes. High levels of carbon monoxide can lead to brain damage and unconciousness.It can also contribute to cancer of the lungs.
‘Dr Hilary Wareing, director of the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre, told the BBC’s Asian Network she was shocked by the results of the research. “Our mouths opened at the level of harm – none of the tests we did showed anything other than shisha is hazardous to health.”‘
Smoke from Shisha besides others contains hundreds of potentially dangerous heavy metals like, Arsenic, Cobalt, Chromium and Lead. Under normal Shisha use the smoke produced from a single pipe use contain approximately the same amount of Nicotine and Tar equivalent to 20 Cigarettes. Research has also shown that after 45 minutes of Shisha use expired air, carbon monoxide, plasma nicotine and heart rate are significantly elevated. Nicotine dependence may also result from repeated inhalation of tobacco smoke from Shisha.
Many people do not regard shisha as being hamrful or even smoking, as it has been a part of Middle Eastern, Asian and African culture for many years. This is probably the biggest harm that is happening here: the lack of understanding about shisha. For many years, smokers of cigarettes and cigars and tobacco lived in denial of the fact that smoking kills; we seem to be heading down the same path for shisha-users. Many people do not realise the harms of shisha nor have looked into this enough. The fact that we have more and more shisha bars appearing in public also gives this false impression that shisha smoking must be ok and free of any health risks (but you wouldn’t have that same impressions of pubs).
As Muslims we should not engage in activities that are harmful to our health:
“And do not kill yourselves” [al-Nisa’ 4:29]
“and do not throw yourselves into destruction” [al-Baqarah 2:195]
Read the below articles and bring these to the attention of the scholars. More effort is needed by our learned people to alert Muslims to the dangers of shisha smoking.
News Reports and findings on Shisha
Stand Up 4 Islam!
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