Q. An increasing number of scholars are endorsing the ruling that
smoking is forbidden in Islam, pointing out that it is the
responsibility of every Muslim to look after his or her own health.
They also mention the fact that smoking is addictive, though not
mind-altering. But many smokers are angry because they feel that it
is a matter of personal choice. Please comment.
A. The first ruling on the prohibition of tobacco smoking is more
than a hundred years old. However, it was not based on health
reasons, because the health risks of smoking were not known at the
time. More than 20 years ago, a group of prominent scholars in Saudi
Arabia issued a fatwa making tobacco smoking, growing and selling
forbidden under Islamic law. Later, ten leading scholars from Al-Azhar
in Cairo, the oldest Islamic university in the world, issued a
series of ten fatwas, with eight making it clear that smoking was
strictly forbidden, while the other two saying that it is close to
More and more scholars have come to the same conclusion. It
should be said that the Al-Azhar scholars based their fatwas on
reports submitted to them by the World Health Organization
explaining the health risks of tobacco smoking. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi
says: ďOn such matters, when doctors say that something is
certainly harmful, Islamic scholars have no option but to pronounce
it as forbidden.Ē
The health risks of tobacco smoking are too clear to be
overlooked. It is the direct cause of more than 25 killer diseases.
Its harmful effects are not limited to the smoker, but include his
family and colleagues at work as well as those who are in close
proximity to him. Besides, it is an addiction which is very
difficult to break. You say that it is not mind altering. I have my
reservations about that statement. It works very slowly and
gradually, but it certainly alters the smokerís mind. This is why
smokers consume more cigarettes in both states of sadness and joy.
There is no doubt in my mind that smoking is forbidden. Muslim
countries should adopt health policies that aim to make their
territories tobacco free over a period of time. This will be a great
service to their populations.
Calling Oneís Wife Mother
Q. Is it permissible for me to call my wife ĎMammaí to
express my appreciation of her kindness?
A. The Arabs of pre-Islamic days had a practice of punishing
their wives by considering them like their mothers. A man might say
to his wife that she was to him like his motherís back. In this
way, he terminates the marriage without divorcing his wife. Islam
forbids this practice and prescribes a very heavy punishment for it.
Scholars agree that if one calls his wife like a mother, out of
kindness or respect, he does not fall in the same category. However,
it is better not to resort to such appellations. A husband may
express his appreciation of his wifeís love or kindness in a
variety of ways. Why should he call her by a name that is normally
given to mothers?