Islam and Smoking

Muslims represent one fifth of the world’s population. It is known and proven that the habit of smoking is very common in the Muslim societies and is growing steadily. So much so that theMuslims who live in Europe, smoke far more than the Europeans themselves. Recently, the British Medical Journal (one the most prestigious medical journals) published an article titled, ‘Theinfluence of Islam on smoking among Muslims’written by Naseeme Gory a Muslim physician, and his colleagues. The article talks about a survey conducted in England in 2004.


The survey indicates that 40% males of the Bangladeshi origin living in England are smokers, while only 24% are English men. He talks about the reasons of the rise of this habit amongst Muslims. The author reports the rate of smoking among men in 30 countries. Islamic countries like Yemen and Indonesia have 77% and 69% smokers respectively, a rate far more than that of the Western countries.

The percentage of female smokers is less than males in the Islamic world. When asked about the reason, he reported that the women in Islamic world rarely go out of the house and hence have less exposure to the smoking communities. Women also deny that they smoke, fearing that their perception and image in the community will be affected. This may mean that the smoking percentage is higher than what is portrayed.

Islamic Culture

The author also speaks about key elements of the Islamic culture: the obligatory, the lawful, the Halal, the hated, and the forbidden. The article talks about sources of Islamic legislation i.e. the Quran, Sunnah, and Diligence; and then continues to mention the culture issued by Muslim scholars on smoking.

It also says that the original text of Islam permits smoking. However, the Islamic scholars of that time were unaware of the damages caused by smoking and hence allowed it. This may be one of the reasons why smoking is a common trend in many Islamic countries.

The author also asks a vital question, as to why Muslims are not committed to their religion. Islam prohibits everything that harms the overall wellbeing of an individual and the community and it is scientifically proven that smoking is extremely dangerous to the health. Hence, smoking should be forbidden. Passive smoking is also equally dangerous, meaningsmoking is harmful to an individual smoker as well as the community and it needs to be banned in public places.

Islam and Smoking

It is very unfortunate that only 14 Islamic countries have banned smoking in public places and only seven countries prevent the sale to minors. The Anti-Smoking Treaty has been signed by104 countries, including 14 Muslim countries, and we thank God that Saudi Arabia is one of them. 

I advise the readers to read the article published in the British Medical Journal for further insight. I conclude by mentioning some guidelines to control the tobacco habit that is spreading like an epidemic and causing destruction.

  • The Islamic scholars have to declare that smoking is the forbidden, using strong logical facts.
  • Islamic countries should pass a law for prohibiting smoking at the public facilities, selling cigarettes to minors and punishing the offenders, and preventing people from smoking.
  • Spreading continuous awareness about the dangers of smoking, along with vivid description of the effects of smoking.

I ask Allah to bless and protect every Muslim from all evils.


Ahmed BaHammam, FACP, FCCP
Professor of Medicine
Director, University Sleep Disorders Center
College ofMedicine, King Saud University