KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's national fatwa committee has issued a fatwa banning shisha (waterpipe) smoking and forbidding Muslims from providing shisha-smoking services or any related activities.
After listening to the experts from the Health Ministry and scrutinizing medical and scientific evidence from the country and abroad on the ill-effects of shisha, the committee decided to prohibit shisha (for Muslims), Prof Emeritus Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, the chairman of the National Council for Islamic Affairs' Fatwa Committee, said in a statement cited by Bernama on Saturday, July 20.
The committee head noted that the fatwa was issued after scientists proved huge detrimental effects of smoking in terms of the health of the individual, national economic growth and shaping of the future generations.
Citing scientific findings in the country and abroad, the committee said that shisha had a most detrimental effect and its widespread use, particularly among youths and women, was most worrying.
Shisha is clearly harmful to health; it is a wasteful activity that is categorized as a bad or despicable thing that all Muslims should avoid, said Abdul Shukor.
Smoking is embedded in the culture of many Muslim countries.
In Muslim-majority Malaysia 21.5 percent of the adult population smoked in 2006, according to the Third National Health and Morbidity Survey.
Scholars in many parts of the world have already taken on smoking.
In 2006, Lebanon's top Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fadlallah issued a fatwa ordering his followers to stop smoking.
Saudi scholars have supported a major crackdown on smoking in the holy city of Makkah.
In January 2009, about 700 scholars of Indonesia Ulemas Council (MUI) banned smoking in public places and for children and pregnant women.
But they stopped short of issuing an all-out ban on smoking.
The fatwa committee also expressed disappointment over some actions which contradicts with the spirit of Ramadan.
It felt that these irresponsible people seemed to have planned to hurl these insults and more so during the Ramadan month which is holy for Muslims, Abdul Shukor said.
Abdul Shukor said their actions had exceeded the limits of patience of the Muslims.
He added that stern action must be taken immediately by the authorities to stop people from continuing to insult Islam and to serve as a lesson for all.
We do not want to see any more of these insults and uncivilized behavior, by way of words or actions, brushed aside without stern action and maximum penalty in accordance with the law, he added.
Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60 percent.
During Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
They dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, good deeds and self-restraint.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.