Posts Tagged ‘Ijtihad’


April 9, 2018


By Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. (published on this site with his approval)

(This article was first published in JIMA (Journal of Islamic Medical Association, Volume 15, and No.4, 1983. The author holds the unique distinction and honor to be the first Muslim Scholar in the world to declare Smoking is Haram. He did with full conviction and courage.  Twenty years later the Ulama have realized the truth and every Muslim country in the world is following suit by declaring Smoking is Haram.)  


Cigarette smoking is the most widespread example of drug dependence in the United States and in all the Islamic countries as well.  The U.S.  Surgeon General’s Office considers cigarette smoking to America’s worst drug addiction problem. Medical investigations show that cigarette smoking is a major factor in the development of many cases of cancer, heart trouble, chronic lung and respiratory disease and other ailments. Smoking causes more illness and death than all other drugs. Cigarette smoking in pregnant women results in deleterious health effects on their newborn children. These Findings and the revelations in the Holy Qur’an clearly prohibit smoking of tobacco by Muslims. Hence smoking is unlawful in Islam.

 Smoking and Health Effects

 It is very well known that cigarette smoking is the most widespread example of drug dependence in the United States. A pamphlet released by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office entitled “Why People Smoke Cigarettes” calls cigarette smoking America’s worst drug addiction problem. It involves addiction to the drug nicotine in tobacco and possible other tobacco substances.

            An authoritative British report (1) stated that tobacco smoking is a form of drug dependence different from but no less strong than that of other addictive drugs—the most stable and well-adjusted person will, if he smokes at all, almost inevitably become dependent on the habit.

 An Australian government report of 1977 called Drug Problems in Australia – An Intoxicated Society(2), says, “It is important to recognize that smoking is a form of drug dependence, but one with especially insidious characteristics.”

 Like many other drugs, the chemicals in cigarette affect the chemistry of the brain and nervous system and create dependence and lead to compulsive use.

 More than 56 million Americans and multiple scores of millions more in other nations, including Islamic nations (3) are hooked on cigarettes in the same way as caffeine addicts are hooked on caffeine. A major reason why sales continue at high levels despite widespread public knowledge about the health hazards is the addictive nature of cigarettes.

  Most people start smoking just to conform to peer or social pressures. They get a feeling of “grown up.” They find smoking (nicotine) at first acts as a stimulant. Later they find they need to smoke as a tranquilizer.  These smokers develop a level of tolerance and bodily adjustment to nicotine. If this level of nicotine is not maintained in their blood, they will experience uncomfortable physical-psychological dependence problems. These uncomfortable feelings are classic drug withdrawal symptoms. Addictive drugs are psychoactive which create brain and nervous system dependence and lead to compulsive use. Abrupt discontinuation leads to physiological and psychological distress. The withdrawal symptoms are headache, stomach discomfort, nervousness, irritability, sweating, change in heart and blood pressure and lower excretion of some hormones affecting the nervous system (4).

The former U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Coop, says, “Cigarette smoking is clearly identified as the chief preventable cause of death (340,000 deaths per year in U.S.A.). In our society it is a major factor in the development of many cases of cancer, heart trouble, chronic lung and respiratory diseases and other ailments. Smoking causes more illnesses and death than all the other drugs.”(5)

Smoking and Islam

 In Islam cleanliness and hygiene are emphasized to the extent that it has been considered a part of Iman (faith). It is very well known that a smoker’s mouth is unclean and foul smelling “like a cigarette ash-tray.” Allah (SWT) says:

And forbids them what is bad.” The Qur’an, Surah Al-‘Araf, 7: 157

 “0 ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. Eschew such abominations that ye may prosper.”

 Al Ma’idah, 5: 93 

 The word intoxicant has three meanings (6):

(1)       To induce, especially the effect of ingested alcohol.

(2) To stimulate or excite.

(3)    To poison.

Except the first meaning the latter two are very well valid and both applicable to nicotine and caffeine.

  Smoking is nothing but a form of slow suicide. The Qur’an says:

“And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden…”

  Surah, Al-Isra, 17: 33

 “And make not your own hands contribute to your destruction.” Surah, Al-Baqara, 2: 195

 “Nor kill or destroy yourselves for verily Allah hath been to you most   Merciful.”    Surah, An-Nisa, 4: 29


The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) has said:

“Nor be hurt or injure others.” It is scientifically proven that the exhaled smoke of the smoker is hazardous to non-smokers around him.

The amount of money a smoker spends on cigarette smoking in a period of 30 years is calculated to be Two Hundred Thousand Dollars or more. All this money is simply wasted (not including the money spent on smoker’s health care).

Allah (SWT) says:  

“But squander not your wealth in the manner of a spend thrift, verily spendthrifts are brothers of evils.”

            Surah, Al-Isra, 17: 26, 27

 Body is polluted by smoking. Hence smokers cannot pray until they have cleansed themselves. According to the Qur’an:

 “0 ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when you are drunken, till ye know that which ye utter, nor when you are polluted save when journeying upon the road, till you have bathed.”

Surah, An-Nisa, 4: 43

 The Christians consider the human body to be a sacred trust given to man by God because it contains the spirit breathed into it by God. Even the Qur’an says 

“So,when I have made him and have breathed unto him of My spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him ”                    Surah, Al-Hijr, 15: 29. 

Hence the physical body should not be polluted or injured or destroyed in any way by smoking or taking of alcohol or any type of habit-forming drugs.

The following is presented as evidence to prove the adverse effects on human body by tobacco smoke; figure 1 shows the chemical structure of Benzo (a) pyrene which is one of the most potent carcinogens known to man to be present in the tobacco smoke. Table I shows a list of tumor-initiating agents present in the particulate phase of tobacco smoke. Tables 2 to 5 present the mortality ratios for coronary artery disease, lung cancer, and other diseases. Table 6 shows the adverse effects of smoking by pregnant women on themselves, their fetuses, and their children.

C 0 N C L U S 1 0 N

For the foregoing reasons and for reasons considered elsewhere smoking is Haram or unlawful in Islam, hence smoking should be discouraged and finally banned in all Islamic countries.

All smoking Muslims should give up this unhealthy and un-Islamic activity. The best way to give it up is to stop all smoking completely. Tapering off on the amount one smokes does not work for most people. It is not easy to quit suddenly, but it is presently the most successful way. There are many ways and techniques available for a serious minded person to give up smoking, which cannot be discussed here.  For the Muslims who sincerely practice Islam and who submit themselves to the Will of Allah, this should not be a difficult task.


  1. The Royal College of Physicians, Smoking, or Health, Third Report

     1977, p.98.

  1. Drug Problems in Australia: An Intoxicated Society?  A Report from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia, 1977.

3.Taha A.: Smoking and Muslim Countries: The immediate and serious Threat. J I M A.  14: 50-52, 1982.

  1. Jaffee JH, Drug Addiction and Drug Abuse  (Ch.16), Clinical Characteristics: Nicotine. In: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. Goodman LS and Gilman A (Editors), Macmillan Pub. Co. Inc., New York, 1975.  P. 305.
  2. The Health Consequences of Smoking. The Changing Cigarette – a Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, P.H.S., Rockville, Maryland, 1981, DHSS (PBS) 81 – 50156.
  3. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1978, P. 686.
  4. Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Al Halal Wal Haram.  Cairo, 1960.
  5.  Smoking and health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. P.H.S. Publication NO.1103 U. S.  Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C.  1965.

Psychological dimension of Qura’an

October 3, 2016


Image result for PICTURE OF OPEN QURAN

Qura’an’s main emphasis is on the guidance of human behavior/actions. Guidance is dispensed, mostly through general, and a few specifically, absolute, injunctions. Specifically, absolutes injunctions are called “limits” (Hudood)–which are just five. In explanation of the verses a fair use of analogy/allegory has been employed to accommodate common man’s logic and reasoning—elaborated through Ahadith and Sunnah; (words and deeds of the Prophet Mohammad-PBUH). Qura’anic verses, Ahadith and Sunnah are further interpreted and explained, by the exegetes, with reference to their contextual background presenting a coherent and cosmic perspective. (Literal translation whereof otherwise, may be misleading).


The importance of guidance can be gauged from the very fact that God, in the very first Surah “Al-Fath” (The-Victory), Himself taught the man how to pray and ask for guidance—for it is an embodiment of all material and spiritual benefits here and hereafter.


In Islamic parlance, the process of guidance is three tiered.                                                                          The first degree of guidance is given to every created thing. Qura’an (20:50) “Our Lord is He who gave unto everything its nature, then guided it aright”. Qura’an (17:44) “And there is not a thing except that it exalts God by His praise, but you do not understand their way of exalting”

The second degree of guidance is given to rational beings only through the Scriptures and Prophets explaining it. It may be accepted by some and rejected by others-hence being believers or non-believers. The tertiary degree of guidance is limited only to the Prophets and Men of God. It is of the highest degree and unlimited. It is called “Tawfeeq” which cannot be refuted or repelled by any rational being. Although the first and third degree of guidance are direct; without the medium of scripture or the prophets, yet in a matter of gradual progression from second to the third level, a rigor of the second degree (following the scripture and Prophet) would be inevitable. (The best example of “Tawfeeq” would be the endowment of Prophet-hood to Mohammad—PBUH—as he was un-lettered therefore, taught everything as a “Tawfeeq” by God).



RIGHTS fall in two domains as bifurcated below.



  • Rights of God (Allah) &   2) Rights of fellow human beings.     


Rights of God (Hudood) are absolute. There is no choice endowed to any human being regardless of his status or station; for any addition, deletion, modification or mollification. For details access the link below.


Rights of fellow Human beings, on the contrary, are open to interpretations within the strictures of Qura’an, Hadith & Sunnah; available as a consensus of OPINIONS of the (competent) religious scholars. There is an avenue of “Ijtihad” (by the competent religious scholars of the highest eminence) also available to address new issues/situations, which have either, not been addressed sufficiently, or at all, in either of the sources mentioned above. The institution of Ijtihad and the presence of various School-of-thoughts, provide a scope for adaptability as well, where “Taqleed” is not adhered to. (By the way, Imam Hanbal and Imam Ibn Tamayya and many others are against “Taqleed”).


Although in Qura’an, there is a panoply of topics on which injunctions have been issued, this treatise, however, would be restricted to tangibility and vassal; which are least discussed and explained with specific reference to human psychology.




Human Psychology

Human behavior, as mentioned earlier, is the main locus of Divine guidance, which can also be divided into two areas. (Philosophical terms have also been inducted at relevant places to broaden the scope of comprehension).

  1. Instinctive or innate behavior(Phil: Idealism, Priori knowledge).

Most prominent is the conception of the Creator–the Supreme Being, followed by empathy, compassion, rage fear, gratitude, possessiveness, self-protection, suckling etc. Qura’an stresses the cleansing of the inner-self through meditation, compassion and tranquility of justice enhancing the awareness and benefits conferred by these traits. In Sufic terminology, it would be a deliberate process of subduing the lower-soul, or lower-self (Nafs). These traits, contrary to general belief, do not annihilate, for they are an integral part of the human genre, but get channeled, through the bottleneck of struggle (mujahida), into higher soul/higher-self for higher purposes.


  1. Learned or acquired behavior— (Phil; Empiricism, Posteriori knowledge). A litany of the behavioral attitudes fall in this category, to name a few—-Defrauding, avariciousness, vanity, tangibility, and Vassal etc. The last two traits are often faced, but least understood and discussed. Qura’an in such matters, for the most part, orders prudence, care in association and equity of behavior by enshrining the element of “awe” (generally translated as (Fear)* backed up by a retributive system. The system of retribution is mostly reserved for the hereafter (with the exception of “injustice”, which is often swiftly dealt with here as well). Justice, of the last resort, however, will be done in the hereafter without the slightest discrepancy whatsoever.(Qura’an) A very important issue, which Qura’an mentions, is that the good done by the non-believers would fetch no reward in the hereafter. It would instead be rewarded right here in this world.



Tangibility & Vassal Qura’an has not expounded on these topics exclusively as a subject matter but rather alluded to them as causative-weaknesses of human behavior.



Acquired traits of human beings are of immense consequence. Most of the aberrations in human behavior stem from these, as a consequence of upbringing, culture, education, and training etc. We, in general, become so accustomed to tangibility that often, substitutes even God (Allah SWT) with someone or something conspicuous. For example instead of relying on God and asking Him to fulfill our needs we resort to some acquaintance. We always, as an impulse, think of rich and powerful to help us rather than the one who made them rich and powerful. This behavioral aberration emanates from “cognitive easement” which triggers the instant sense of association culminating in instant reposal of trust in thus cognized entity. (This cognitive easement, however, is normally one-sided and may or may not be fortuitous). On the contrary, cognitive journey, towards an unseen or invisible entity, would require deliberated efforts and conviction to be completed and fruitful. This behavioral pattern vividly explains the difference in the approach and mindset of an unbeliever* from that of a believer. This aspect of human tangibility and vassal has been aptly articulated in Surah Zuukhruf 43, V 31 & 32.                                                      *(A professed believer could also act as an unbeliever).



Pagans of Arabia often raised the objection that why Prophet Mohammad (PBUH); being of an ordinary background, has been accorded the prestige of Prophet-hood instead of some rich and powerful person of the town; who could have helped them with some mercy (compassion/favor) and put them to work. Ironically we, in our own time, often witness people coagulating around rich and powerful due to habituation with vassal and tangibility. Prophet Noah, (A.S) also complained of such an attitude of his people in Surah Nuh 71, V-21. Exegesis of Surah Tur 52, V-37 predicates the issue of similar attitude as well.


A couple of anecdotes, which would help bring the point home, are quoted here.

1) When Prophet Moses (A.S) journeyed to Mount Sinai (Zion) for 40 days his people, in his absence, started worshiping a “CALF” instead of God (Because it was visibly and tangibly right there).

2) When Prophet Moses (A.S) crossed river Nile and reached the other side, the first thing his people saw was; a tribe worshiping an idol, therefore, due to sudden tangibility impulse, they demanded that Prophet Moses (A.S) should make them a statue of God, like theirs. This probably was the worst example of habituation with tangibility. Prophet Moses (A.S) who just saved Israelites from the clutches of Pharaoh-god’s (tangibility/vassal): who they were forced to worship, wanted to worship an “idol” instead of God!


Translation (Surah Zukhruf 43, v 31, 32)

“They say! Why Qura’an is not revealed on any one of the great men of the two big cities?” “Is it they who distribute mercy of your Lord? We distributed among them their livelihood in this world and raised some of them in ranks over the others so that some of them may put some others to work. And Mercy of your Lord is much better than what they (the rich and powerful) may have accumulated” (wealth and resources etc)


Explanation (Exegesis)

“Mercy” here represents the Prophet (PBUH); which they objected to for being of humble background, and asked why not one of the rich men from big cities like Mecca or Taif has been chosen for this august office? God answered by admonishing them, that you can’t even handle the small economies of your cities, division of labor, distribution of resources etc, how dare you suggest, who should be chosen as a Prophet? God then declared that some of you have been accorded a higher rank; to act (like) as an Economic Manager, and that they have also been assigned resources (economy). Then He cautioned, that despite their higher ranks, do not seek favors from them (vassal) as My mercy is far better than their hoardings (wealth and resources—attractive to most human beings)” Human beings thus have been given a befitting answer with a warning about their weakness (I seek Allah’s refuge for any inadvertent misinterpretation or mistake)


1* – Fear (of not being able to do justice to the great task of worshiping God and recognizing His greatness). (Khashiyyah)  is the real term used, instead of fear, for its use is limited with reference to God only.  Khashiyyah} can loosely be translated as “Awe”.   “Fear” {Khawf}  ordinarily, is from  the other sentient beings.…/…/10/disjunctive-sequel-2/


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