Smoking is a habit that one finds is rife within the Arab culture in my last visit to Iraq I found it very difficult dealing with smokers, not only was it 50 degrees but it was found to be the norm to smoke inside a vehicle. Many of my peers unfortunately are bound by this habit , from a young age I have seen how the development has gone from
- just a puff
- this is nice
- I am addicted
- I want to quit
- I have quit
- I am a social smoker
- I smoke
It seems as if the cycle is forever rotating and I possibly shall never understand it as I have never smoked a cigarette, I have however in the past smoked the shisha pipe. In my early years there were times where I was fascinated by this piece of equipment. It was the ‘cool’ thing to do, we would stay up in shisha cafe’s and convince ourselves that we were ‘discussing religion’. Our parents would question where we were and we all remember that first time we arrived home at 5am, our father still up waiting for us, our reply would be ‘but so and so was there and we were discussing deep intellectual matters’. This excuse would somewhat exonerate our mild guilty feeling at arriving so late in the night.
Shisha and Cigarettes
It was after some time that I began looking deeper into the shisha pipe and when I realised the content of what I was smoking I told myself that this was something unhealthy, so using the same logic behind why I did not smoke cigarettes I decided not to touch the shisha. To me both entities were the same and in fact medical research has now proven that the shisha pipe is indeed far worse than the cigarette. It is for this reason that I often laugh to myself when the following scenario takes place (and boy has it happened a lot)
Me: so do you smoke?
Person : No I quit ages ago
Me: But do you smoke shisha?
Person: Yeah from time to time
Me : But shisha is also smoking?
Person: [Baffled look on face]
What I really wanted to share is my frustrations with the lack of awareness that our community gives the topic of smoking. What I find funny is the following, my peers would always find a hiding place to smoke and when I would question why they would not smoke in public, the reply would be ‘it is disrespectful to smoke in front of your parents’ (should they see us).
If it is disrespectful to smoke in front of ones parents then why is it that we (as a community) leave the issue of smoking to the side? There has never been an awareness campaign or targeted discussions/lectures discussing the issue of smoking. What exactly makes smoking disrespectful to the parents if the act itself is ‘perfectly ok’?.
Society in the UK has done so much in educating the masses with the dangers of smoking that we find that more and more individuals are quitting the habit and fewer people are taking it up in the first place. British attitude has changed towards smoking, so where it was once deemed acceptable to smoke in a Bus or in a cafe is now completely out of the question.
It is therefore sad to see that many of our youths are smoking, these are young youth who for whatever reason are smoking like there’s no tomorrow and it leads me to question why this is? Although within British society as a whole the attitude is changing I find that within our community the attitude has remained the same, now I do not have any research to present but I am pretty sure that if we took a subset of youth from the community we would find that perhaps a good 40 to 60 percent would be smokers.
Role of community
Some say ‘well there is no problem here, is it even an issue?’ why am I even writing a blog about the topic of smoking? Well this is actually the second blog I write on this matter. I write it because I feel quite passionate that although it can be argued that some scholars still deem this act to be permissible within Islamic law there still lies ambiguity with regards to the process of starting the habit.
In fact let us take the issue of Islamic law aside for a moment and ponder over the fact that the act of smoking has been the subject of extensive medical research, vast advertising campaigns and awareness. Many laws created and passed down over the years, bans within sports on advertising and bans on almost all forms of advertising in the UK. All of this highlights one thing, that the issue of smoking is no small matter, it is not a topic to quickly dismiss and claim that it has no relevant place within a lecture or within a community initiative.
The reality is that many of us know of the dangers and know of its effects on our bodies, many of us want to quit and get rid of this habit. Many of us need that extra push to finally get us to stop and so if we have at our door step, a community that can organise campaigns such as the blood donation campaign. A community that holds programmes where speakers deliver 10 nights of talks then it is not farfetched to think perhaps reminding ourselves of the dangers of smoking and its origin is a indeed a good idea.