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The Myth of the Healthy Hookah

“Do not put yourselves into destruction, and do good. Of course, Allah loves those who do good” (al Baqarah 2:195)

Source : Agencies / 24 May 2014

The growing popularity of Hookah smoking around the world has given rise to an era in which youngsters, and Muslim youth in particular, are openly and carelessly engaging in this cool new activity. The Hookah, also referred to as a Shisha, Nargile, Hubbly-Bubbly, and water-pipe, is currently the most popular form of smoking, with some Hookahs being able to accommodate up to a dozen smokers at once.

Hookah or waterpipe smoking—also known as shisha or chica in other countries—is often considered a fun, harmless and lighter version of smoking without the dangers cigarettes pose.

Recent studies have shown that a single shisha session is the same as smoking 200 cigarettes. (See report by World Health Organisation - WHO)

Tobacco based shisha is detrimental to health, addictive and is a means of wasting time and money.

Misconceptions about shisha smoking

"There's a misconception that shisha is not as bad for you as cigarettes, because the tobacco is flavoured and passes through water first. But the carcinogens and nicotine are still there. So a regular shisha smoker can expect to be at risk to the similar health problems that cigarette smokers face, whether that's respiratory, heart disease or cancer. As with any other tobacco product, I expect regular shisha smokers will find it addictive, to the point that they may need it every day." (Dr Khalid Anis, Chairman of Niche Tobacco Advisory Group - NTAG)

Hence the use of such a substance that is detrimental to one’s health is considered prohibited or in the least makrūh tahrimi (prohibitively disliked, meaning very close to harām) by majority jurists, especially when such substances are used in vain or leisure.

Destroying one’s health through such activities is against the imperatives of the pure religion of Islam.

“Do not put yourselves into destruction, and do good. Of course, Allah loves those who do good” (al Baqarah 2:195)

Components of shisha: 

These components are no different from the components of cigarette tobacco and its smoke, as it contains no less than four thousand toxic substances, the most significant of which are: nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, heavy metals, radioactive substances, carcinogens, agricultural chemicals, insecticides and many other toxic substances. 

Some tobacco companies claim that all or most of the tar is removed from shisha tobacco. A number of flavouring substances, the components of which are not known, are also added to shisha tobacco, the extent of the harmful effects of which we do not know. What is said about smoking by means of the shisha or narghileh with tobacco or jiraak or mu‘assal being free of danger is not true at all. A four-year study in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has proven that mu‘assal is in fact pure tobacco with a large amount of dyes, colours and flavourings that have been mixed without any attention to health regulations, and it proved that it causes various kinds of disease and cancer. 

Jiraak contains 15% tobacco, mixed with honey, fruits and chemical additives that are cooked and fermented. 

Hookah Smoke and Cancer

· The charcoal used to heat tobacco in the hookah increases the health risks by producing smoke that contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.

· A typical 1-hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while an average cigarette is 20 puffs. The volume of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters, compared with 500 to 600 milliliters inhaled when smoking a cigarette.

· Using a hookah to smoke tobacco poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the emitted smoke.

What Hookah smoking does to your heath?

The American Lung Association (ALA) identifies hookah smoking as a major health risk. The following are the health risks of hookah smoking:

o    Lung cancer, oral cancer

o    Gastric and esophageal carcinoma

o    Impaired pulmonary function

o    Heart disease

o    Reduced fertility

o    Low birth weight of the babies

o    Hepatitis or herpes (caused due to the sharing of hookah among smokers)

A cigarette may last for about 5 minutes, but a normal hookah session would last for 30 minutes. According to a study, a single hookah session may deliver the following:

o    36 times the tar produced by cigarette

o    1.7 times the nicotine produced by cigarette

o    8.3 times the carbon monoxide produced by cigarette

o    1 hour of hookah session can deliver 50 liters of smoke whereas a single cigarette delivers only 0.5 liters of smoke

May Allah keep us pure, healthy and away from all harmful substances through His infinite mercy.

And Allah knows best. 


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