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Marijuana: Arab Smokers, religious scholars weigh in

Posted: Friday 04.22.2016 4:02 am By Samer Hijazi COMMUNITY

A local Muslim woman about to smoke Marijuana.

The names of some individuals interviewed in this article have been changed to protect their anonymity.

DEARBORN — Marijuana smoking is a recreational activity for many local Arab and Muslim Americans.

But those who consume it continue to conceal the habit out of fears of social scrutiny, challenges with the law and uncertainty of where it stands in the religion.

Michigan’s marijuana laws continue to remain unclear. In the last few years, the laws have shifted drastically to decriminalize personal pot smoking in many cities and to allow medical marijuana patients an easier path for consumption.

However, a majority of police departments still impose a no tolerance policy that can get any habitual user caught up with hefty fines, probation or even jail time.

In November, a measure will appear on the ballot that would allow Michiganders 21 years or older to grow, possess and sell marijuana, let state and local governments pass regulations and impose up to a 10 percent tax on non-medical pot, with funding earmarked for education, road repairs and local governments.

But for Muslim pot smokers, the law is just one of the few baggages that comes with the territory.

Many also have to hide their habits from family members and friends who perceive weed as a taboo.

The older generation of Muslims and Arabs are quick to call a cannabis smoker a “hashash,” which in English roughly translates to “fiend” or “high on.”

A family member labeled as such can cause great shame and humiliation to a Muslim household.

Muslim pot smokers discuss challenges

One local Muslim woman named Zeinab said she frequently smokes Marijuana to relieve chronic pain.

“I have arthritis and it helps with the pain,” Zeinab said. “I don’t feel any of that pain when I smoke. Not only does it help me physically, but mentally it also helps me relax.”

Zeinab calls herself a devoted Muslim. She wears a hijab, prays five times a day, but enjoys concluding her evening by sparking a joint.

“I have a lot of hijabi friends who smoke weed,” she said. “But it’s not something we share with our family. I would never tell my parents about it. I don’t want to disappoint them. I still want to be a good girl in their eyes.”

Zeinab said pot smoking has a misconstrued reputation among the older generation of Muslims in the community. She questions why smoking hookah or cigarettes don’t come attached with the same stigmas.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “Smoking hookah is far worse than marijuana. With hookah, you are smoking it for a longer period of time. You have people in our community who think Marijuana is so wrong, yet they have no shame in publicly displaying their hookah smoking.”

But for her, marijuana is the best alternative to relieve her pain. She often disregards prescription medication given to her by doctors in favor of smoking pot.

She said that consuming alcohol is forbidden in the religion, yet no one would question people who would take NyQuil for temporary relief.

“People take NyQuil to help ease their pain at night and that has alcohol in it,” Zeinab said. “Is that haram? I don’t think smoking weed is an issue because God knows what my intentions are for doing it. I’m in pain and if it’s going to help me heal, then why not.”

One local Muslim mother said she is a medical marijuana patient and uses the substance to relive pain for her anxiety.

She said her two adult children heavily condemn her pot smoking and jump through hoops to conceal her activity from other family members and friends.

“They are scared that their friends are going to think their mother is a stoner,” Maysa said. “I would have no problem telling people I smoke weed, but my kids would have an issue with it.”

She added that she understands why her children are embarrassed by her recreational activity. She believes that if other mothers in the family found out that she smokes marijuana, she would likely be judged and shunned by them.

Maysa said many Arab teens and young adults are prone to smoking weed, but the parents are either not aware or choose to be in denial about it.

“Even on my block I’ll see it all the time,” Maysa said. “There’s a kid a few houses down who sells weed and his parents don’t have the slightest clue. I see his friends coming in and out all day long.”

But chronic pot smokers aren’t doing it just to relieve pain. Many young adults are consuming the substance simply because they enjoy the high.

“Ali”, a local college student, said he and his friends gather nightly to smoke pot just for kicks.

On April 20, widely recognized by pot smokers as “420”, a day to celebrate the cannabis culture, Ali and his friends gathered to smoke blunts in a backyard.

He obtains the substance illegally, as he does not have a medical marijuana card. He said he spends anywhere from $50 to $70 a week.

“I think it’s harmless,” he said. “What’s the worse that happens to you? You laugh and get really hungry. I don’t see the big deal.”

Ali said unlike other substances, he doesn’t believe Marijuana is addicting. He has gone weeks without smoking and didn’t experience any withdrawals.

“I guarantee you it’s much more difficult for someone to stop smoking cigarettes than it is to stop smoking weed,” Ali said. “I’ve stopped smoking weed many times and the only thing I suffered from was boredom.”

He said he doesn’t let pot-smoking get in the way of his school and work. He doesn’t go to class high because it impairs his thinking.

“I don’t smoke until I’ve done everything I needed to do,” Ali said. “It’s like a nice way to treat yourself at the very end of a hard working day.”

“Wesam”, a close friend of Ali’s, chooses not to smoke marijuana because it is illegal and he worries he would be drug tested in his profession.

He does frequently drink alcohol. He admits that it’s a much less healthy alternative to weed.

“I would say our community is even more open to alcohol than they are to weed,” Wesam said. “The Quran forbids alcohol consumption, but people are more open about that habit than they are about smoking weed.”

Wesam said he’s waiting for the laws to become more pot friendly before he becomes a chronic smoker.

“If they make it legal, which is what appears to be happening, then I’ll stop calling my friends potheads and become one myself,” he quipped.

Haram to get high?

The Quran makes no direct reference to marijuana, like it does with alcohol and gambling. However, most religious leaders point to verses in the Quran that condemn substances that alter the state of mind.

While there are conflicting studies on the long-term impacts of marijuana consumption, many researchers have concluded that it harms brain cells that help one’s ability to create new memories.

Imam Mohammad Elahi, spiritual leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, reiterated that stance.

“In general, anything harmful for our health, whether physical, mental or moral, is forbidden in Islam,” Elahi said. “If there is stuff that may not be considered an immediate risk, but it may end being harmful to our soul or body, like addiction to drugs, then that must be avoided as well.”

However, Elahi did note that it’s not a sin for individuals to use marijuana for medical purposes if it’s prescribed to them by a health professional as the best source for treatment.

Elahi said smoking pot as a hobby is not acceptable in Islam.

“Obviously, smoking marijuana for fun is wrong,” Elahi added. “It should be permissible only if that is the only option in a medical condition prescribed by medical experts.”

Imam Mustapha El-Turk, leader of the Islamic Organization Of North America (IONA) in Warren, told The Arab American News that he is personally not sold on marijuana being used for medical purposes, stating that it’s a gateway for abuse and addiction.

“I don’t know if I personally agree with that,” El-Turk said. “How about morphine? It’s a drug commonly used for medical purposes in hospitals. If people did it themselves, then there is an element of abuse. This permissibility of marijuana being used for medicine has potential of leading to abuse and the potential of people making money off it.”

El-Turk cited a growing epidemic among high school and college students who are using marijuana casually, adding that it is a gateway drug to cocaine and heroine.

He noted that this summer the IONA will be launching a campaign titled “Muslims against Drugs” that will include the participation of 200 to 300 youths.

El-Turk is calling for all religious institutions to tackle the issue of drug abuse aggressively in their congregations. He said imams must put pressure on parents to discuss drug abuse with their children.

“I have no statistics to know how many of them abuse it,” El-Turk said. “But it’s our responsibility as parents to bring awareness to our children that this is a drug, just like anything else, that can be addictive, like cigarettes. The other responsibility relies on the imams and Muslim leaders who have congregations and audiences. We need to advise our community to address this issue through different means of publications, lectures and speaking with experts.”

Marijuana: Arab Smokers, religious scholars weigh in Posted: Friday 04.22.2016 4:02 am By Samer Hijazi COMMUNITY A local Muslim woman about to smoke Marijuana. The names

Does the one who smokes marijuana come under the same ruling as the one who drinks alcohol?

Question

Answer

Praise be to Allah.

Before discussing the ruling on marijuana, it is essential to find out what it really is, and the effects that are caused by this substance.

Marijuana is one of the derivatives of the cannabis plant (Cannabis indica). This is a plant that has an intoxicating effect, and it is very common in Arab countries where it is known by a number of names (such as “bangue” in Egypt; bangue is something other than hasheeh), or by the Western names for it, such as marijuana.

The unprocessed form of the drug is composed of the dried mature flowers and leaves of the plant.

The processed product is known as hashish, which is basically composed of the glandular trichomes that are collected from the same plants. The main active substance in cannabis is the organic chemical compound Delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol, which is known as THC.

Hashish is a hallucinogenic substance when taken in large doses. Smoking hashish is the most common method of consumption and has the greatest effect on the central nervous system, because the active substance quickly reaches the bloodstream from the lungs, and from there it reaches the brain, making the individual feel relaxed, drowsy, happy, euphoric and joyful; it makes him feel very weak, unable to concentrate or focus. It also affects the short-term and working memory. The individual may also lose balance and experience impaired motor skills, increased heart rate, increased impulsivity, a fall in blood pressure, and dryness of the mouth and throat.

End quote from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

Once the nature of marijuana becomes clear, we will realise that it is indeed a kind of khamr, and all the rulings on khamr are applicable to it. Shar‘i rulings cannot be determined on the basis of one’s reasoning or ideas; rather they are to be based on shar‘i texts and the rulings of Allah and His Messenger on the matter. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) called all intoxicants khamr and applied all the relevant rulings to them:

Muslim narrated in his Saheeh (2003) that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Every intoxicant is khamr and every intoxicant is haraam. Whoever drinks khamr in this world and dies when he is addicted to it and has not repented, will not drink it in the Hereafter.”

If marijuana is an intoxicating substance, as explained above, and what it is and what it causes is well-known and well-established, then it is undoubtedly khamr and is subject to the same rulings as khamr in this world and the hereafter.

It does not matter if something only causes intoxication when consumed in large amounts, but small amounts do not cause intoxication, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whatever causes intoxication in large amounts, a small amount of it is haraam.”

Narrated by an-Nasaa’i (5607) and others; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) discussed this matter at length, explaining the rulings on what you have asked about. He discussed this substance (marijuana or hashish) and stated that all the rulings on khamr are applicable to it. He (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

As for the accursed intoxicant hashish, it is the same as other intoxicating substances, and what intoxicates of it is haraam according to scholarly consensus. In fact anything that causes a person to become unconscious is prohibited to eat, even if it does not cause intoxication, such as banj (Hyoscyamus niger, commonly known as henbane or stinking nightshade, a plant with psychoactive properties that was historically used as an anaesthetic and for other purposes). The hadd punishment is required for consuming intoxicating substances, and a disciplinary punishment (ta‘zeer) may be imposed in other cases, where the substance consumed does not intoxicate but it renders one unconscious.

Consuming small amounts of intoxicant hashish is haraam according to the majority of scholars, as is also the case with regard to consuming small amounts of any other intoxicant.

The words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), “Every intoxicant is khamr and every khamr is haraam” include everything that causes intoxication, and it makes no difference whether the intoxicant is eaten or drunk, or whether it is solid or liquid. If the hashish is turned into liquid and drunk, it is still haraam.

Our Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was sent with concise speech, so if he spoke a comprehensive word that was general in meaning, a lot of words and meanings may come under that category, whether they are the exact same things that existed in his time and in the place where he lived, or otherwise. When he said “Every intoxicant is haraam,” that included what existed in Madinah of intoxicating drinks made from dates and so on, and it also included what existed in Yemen of intoxicating drinks made from wheat, barley, honey and other things. It also includes what was introduced later on of alcoholic drinks made from mare’s milk, which was common among the Turks and others. None of the scholars differentiated between intoxicants made from mare’s milk or intoxicants made from wheat and barley, even though one of them existed and was known at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and the other was not known at that time, because no one in the Arab land made intoxicating drinks from mare’s milk.

The first report we have of hashish appearing among the Muslims was at the end of the sixth century AH and beginning of the seventh century, when the Tatar state emerged, at the time when Genghis Khan attacked the Muslims. At that time, people began to commit openly acts that Allah and His Messenger had forbidden, and because of these sins Allah caused the enemy to prevail over them. This accursed hashish was one of the greatest of evils, for it is worse than drinking intoxicants in some ways, and intoxicant drinks are worse than it in other ways. In addition to causing the one who consumes it to become intoxicated to the extent that he is completely dazed and stupefied, hashish also causes a person to develop an effeminate attitude, become a cuckold (who does not care about impropriety on the part of female family members), and to become disturbed. It makes one eat a great deal and may lead to insanity. Many people have become insane because of consuming it.

Some people say that it alters the mind, so it does not cause intoxication like banj (henbane), but that is not true. Rather it gives a sense of pleasure and euphoria like alcohol, and this is what prompts people to consume it. A little of it leads to more, like intoxicating drinks, and if a person becomes used to it, it is more difficult to wean oneself from it than is the case with alcohol. So in some ways the harm it causes is greater than that caused by alcohol.

Hence the fuqaha’ said that the hadd punishment must be given for it, as in the case of alcohol, but they differed as to whether it is najis (impure). …

If a person becomes intoxicated as a result of drinking alcohol or consuming intoxicating hashish, it is not permissible for him to come near the mosque until he sobers up, and his prayer is not valid until he knows what he is saying. He must wash his mouth, hands and garments in either case (i.e., whether he has drunk alcohol or consumed hashish), and prayer is still obligatory for him, although it will not be accepted from him for forty days, unless he repents, as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever drinks alcohol, no prayer will be accepted from him for forty days, then if he repents, Allah will accept his repentance. If he drinks it again, no prayer will be accepted from him for forty days, then if he repents Allah will accept his repentance. Then if he drinks it again, it will be incumbent upon Allah to give him to drink of the mud of al-khabaal.” It was said: What is the mud of al-khabaal? He said: ‘The juice of the people of Hell – or the sweat of the people of Hell.”

As for the view of those who say that there is no verse or hadith about marijuana, this stems from ignorance, for the Qur’an and hadith contain comprehensive words which state general principles and holistic issues, and cover everything that comes under that heading. Everything that is included under that heading is included in the Qur’an and hadith in general terms, but it is not possible to mention every single thing by its specific name.

End quote from Majmoo‘ Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam (34/204-207)

What you must do is give up this serious problem and be strong in adhering to the command of Allah. Do not compromise with regard to your whims and desires; preserve your religious commitment and protect your prayer from consuming khamr, lest khamr (intoxicating substance) lead to ruin in your religious and worldly affairs. If the matter requires medical rehabilitation, then you must do that immediately and seek help thereby to give up this problem that you are faced with.

We ask Allah to open your heart to that which He loves and is pleased with of words and deeds, and to bless you by enabling you to repent sincerely.

Does the one who smokes marijuana come under the same ruling as the one who drinks alcohol? Question Answer Praise be to Allah. Before discussing the ruling on marijuana, it is essential