Is Smoking Haram?
Islam’s universal halals and harams are stated in the Quran and sunnah, which is the explanation of the Quran. What is meant by “universal halal and haram” is halals and harams which are valid in all times and places. The issue of smoking cigarettes is mentioned neither in the Quran nor in sunnah; because when Quran was sent down, there was not anything like cigarettes. Cigarette emerged after 15th century.
There are some general rules in Islam for making a judgment about something which is not mentioned in the main sources of Islam. One of them is “the rule is the permissibility of things”. That is to say; everything is created for human beings and while some things are stated to be haram, some are not identified as haram or halal, and thus they are halal. Another one is “what is clean and nice is halal and what is filthy and harmful is haram”.
When those two general rules are taken into consideration together, we come up with a conclusion about smoking as follows: as there is nothing stated about smoking in sources, we should determine whether cigarette is filthy and harmful or not. If it has got features which we can describe as filthy and harmful, we should conclude that it is haram; if it has not got such features, we should conclude that it is halal.
Due to this method of deduction, some Islamic scholars in history concluded that smoking cigarettes is halal/mubah, because they said that they did not observe any harm from cigarettes; therefore, they could not say it was haram. However, today science has proved that cigarette includes about 2000 kinds of poison, that it is the reason of many diseases, and that it harms not only those who smoke, but also those who are near smokers though they do not smoke themselves.
Besides, there is another method of deduction according to Hanafi tradition: “It is appropriate to say that things which are haram according to rules but are not mentioned in the Quran and sunnah are tahriman makrooh (strictly abominable) rather than haram. Indeed, what is meant by it is still haram but since it is only Allah’s right to conclude if something is haram or not, it is better to call things, which are discovered to be haram for sure but not mentioned in the Quran, tahriman makrooh. For this reason, Hanafis today have adopted the view that it is tahriman makrooh. Tahriman makrooh is, like decree law, makruh in the decree of haram.
Moreover, one risks his life by smoking. However, Allah says: “Do not risk yourself with your own hands”. For this reason, smoking means risking oneself. Smoking is also a very important personal right; because smokers harm non-smokers and disturb them. Forgiveness of violating a personal right is only possible if the person whose right has been violated forgives the violator. And providing it is very difficult.
Judgment of Smoking
Tobacco entered Islamic countries after 15th century. Since then, Islamic scholars have discussed about judgment of smoking:
a. Some scholars have said that tobacco is mubah. Those, who have adopted this view, have put forward that it is not harmful and is not prohibited by Allah.
However, today it has been discovered definitely that tobacco is harmful. It cannot be said that it is not harmful. It would not also be right to say that it has not been prohibited by Islamic laws. As a matter of fact, all prohibitions are not named one by one. Judgment is made not only through explicit and specific rules but also deduced by judging from the reasons why they have been prohibited, as mentioned in laws. In this sense, it is unobjectionable to make a judgment about something, about which there is not an explicit law, by comparison and deduction.
b. Some have said that smoking is makrooh. They have said so because they hesitated to call something, judgment of which is made by comparison, haram and because they did not have certain information about the harms of tobacco.
c. And some have said that smoking, and especially being a heavy smoker, is haram. Their evidence is that smoking harms the body, causes waste of money and thus causing poverty, which makes it difficult to meet needs of the household.
If one of those three reasons is valid, it is haram to smoke. If none of them is valid, it is makrooh to smoke.
Especially, a decision made by a pious and specialized doctor is of great importance. If such a doctor tells someone to quit smoking definitely, it will be haram for him/her to smoke religiously.