Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Unique Smoking Experience

Shisha (a.k.a. Hookah) has rapidly become the newest social fad among today's youth. We've all seen the Facebook pictures of our friends blowing out billows of smoke into various shapes or passing it into another's mouth. Most people who engage in this phenomenon are under the misconception that shisha is a harmless alternative to smoking cigarettes.

But the reality of it is that shisha is actually even more detrimental than the ordinary cigarette. In just a one hour session, the average user will have consumed 100-200 times more smoke and 70 times more nicotine than they would have from a typical cigarette. The nicotine concentration of shisha smoke cannot be measured due to packing differences, but is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking between 7 and 10 cigarettes, and with each inhalation, a shisha smoker breathes in 2 liters of smoke- 4 times as much as a cigarette.

Many people are under the false impression that the water in the container is being used to filter out the noxious tobacco substances. Actually, the water merely acts as a barrier, allowing for the air pressure towards the bottom of the tank to be lower in order for air to pass through. The damp, enveloped structure of the vessel makes it a breeding ground for bacteria and a medium for cooling the smoke. This dark, moist environment and the sharing of the mouthpiece heavily contribute in spreading infectious diseases such as herpes, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

I'm not here to declare whether it's haraam or halal, but arguing that shisha smoking has any health benefits or that it doesn't cause any physical harm is almost impossible. Surely no one in their right mind would intentionally drop a bowling ball on their own foot because they are aware of the painful consequences. Then why do we deliberately cause harm to ourselves by smoking shisha? While the pain and damage from shisha may not be as apparent or immediate as that of the impact of the bowling ball on your foot, it is significantly more life threatening. Allah states in the Qur'an:

"And spend of your wealth in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good." – The Holy Qur'an 2:195

The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said

"Whomsoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will sip this poison forever and ever in the fire of Hell." (Bukhari, Muslim)

It is evident from the words of Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) that this is most certainly not an issue that should be taken lightly.

Allah is our Creator and we belong to Him. We therefore have no right to intentionally harm ourselves. May Allah grant us the strength to overcome our shortcomings and may He guide us to surround ourselves with only those things that will make us better. Ameen.