VOICE OF THE MUSLIM YOUTH:
Areeba Khalid, 25, Derby
I can’t believe some of the fuss that is being made about shisha bars. I think people would have a stronger point if they said shisha is Haram because it is bad for you by backing it up with evidence. Saying it is haram because of the environment (intermixing/music) – in my opinion sounds a little bit ridiculous. It’s like saying going to school/town/any other café is Haram because of what COULD happen. We live in a country and a society where intermixing/ background music is pretty normal. We’ve all been to schools and the majority of us work in such environments.
It all comes down to the intention of the individual. Somebody going to a shisha café to flirt would be the same as going to costa to flirt. Somebody going to a shisha café to enjoy a nice mint tea is the same as going to costa for a nice vanilla latte. My point is that the intention and actions are down to the individual – it doesn’t make the place they choose to do them in – Halal or Haram. Some people just go to shisha cafes to enjoy a nice mint tea and hang out with friends. It’s not all bad.
I was reluctant when I first heard about shisha at University but you have to be a little open-minded to other cultures. In the Middle East, shisha is a part of their culture. Families sit together and have a pipe going. Women sometimes carry their own pipes in their handbags for when they stop in a café. Weddings are set up to have a shisha smoking section. It is all cultural. It’s not for everybody but I definitely don’t think it’s as bad as some people make it sound.
Banning shisha cafes as some people are saying seems like a silly suggestion. For most people it’s just a place to chill out with friends. It’s like going to the park but warmer and with a bit of a vibe. You can sit in a shisha cafe and read a book or watch a football match if you want to. It’s not all about flirting and loud music. I don’t think banning shisha cafes would encourage people towards pubs and clubs.
Some people say shisha bars are not a safe and HaIal environment. I think, just like any other place, Shisha bars are safe if the people you’re with are safe – and again it all depends on the person. Some people may just go to a shisha café just to get out of the house, meet up with friends or have an Asian or Arabian tea just like you would go to any other café to do the same. I think if somebody intends to smoke heavier stuff – they would be doing it anyway. You don’t need a shisha café for that. I don’t think it would encourage alcohol – again you could be doing that in any place. In fact, as far as I know, most shisha places don’t allow alcohol anyway. Flirting again, is down to the individual. I think it’s each to their own but I don’t think shisha cafes encourage these kind of things. These things happen anywhere and everywhere.
So what does a shisha café give you that any other café/Nandos/cinema doesn’t give you- I hear you say? Well that’s the whole point. Some people just go there as they would go to any of the other places. It’s just another place where you can get away, chill and hang out for a while.
Aliya Mobeen, 23, Peterborough
I don’t have an opinion on Shisha lounges being places that people hang out in. I’ve never been to one but from what I know they are places that people go to look cool whilst taking pictures of themselves smoking a Shisha pipe.
Yes, couples do go there and yes, there is free mixing but does that not occur at restaurants, parks, shopping centres and all public places too? What makes a Shisha lounge different to other places?
Of course it is wrong for the youth to free mix there, but Shisha lounges are not the only places where these actions occur. So, if you do not believe in Shisha itself being wrong, I don’t know why anyone would want to try to crack down on Shisha lounges, alone.
What I am against and the reason why I have never been to a Shisha lounge is because of the actual Shisha smoking itself. I don’t want to smoke, my parents wouldn’t approve of it and it’s definitely not good for health. For that reason, I think the emphasis should be placed on making people more aware of the severe health problems that are associated with smoking Shisha and I would advise you to research what the health effects are.
Muneeb Afzal, 30, Oldham
There are a wide range of opinions regarding shisha, and depending upon who you speak to, they can range from it being evil and un-Islamic to it being a perfectly acceptable method of social interaction. I belong to the latter group.
As a young(ish) Muslim who has grown up in a Western society, I see it as one of the few activities that I can take part in with my friends that is Halal. If you take a moment and think about all the non-Halal activities out there, you will realise that shisha is not so bad after all and it can actually lead to better mental health. I feel better socialising with my mates rather than Whatsapp'ing or texting them.
Admittedly, some shisha places are badly run and can attract the wrong crowd i.e. under 18s, and bad boy wannabes. But just like everything else in life, it has good and bad aspects to it and your experience depends on what type of place you choose to go to.
I go to a place which has a strict policy on the type of people it will let in and is always quite calm, relaxing and respectable. I've seen males with beards, girls with hijabs, trendy geeks with black plastic glasses (myself included!), and elder gentlemen too. Then again I have been to places where it has been like a club and the environment was definitely not an Islamic one.
You choose your own environment; make sure it is a good one!
Samuel Iqbal, 28, Bradford
In the ever changing world we live in, society as a whole is becoming more and more concerned with keeping us entertained. Entertainment... It’s fun, it’s relaxing and let's be honest, there's nothing wrong with letting loose and slacking every now and then.
We live fast paced lives, work/study ridiculous hours, have an enormous amount of responsibilities and pay way too much tax and bills. So understandably we all need an outlet. But, as Muslims, we live by a code of conduct, we have a concept of Halal and Haraam, allowed and not allowed, so shouldn't we take care and make sure the activities we partake in our spare time are Shariah compliant?
One such form of letting loose, socialising and entertainment that both the young and old are taking part in at alarmingly growing numbers is Shisha smoking.
Shisha is a large bong-like equipment which contains flavoured tobacco, the tobacco is burned, filtered through water and smoked, for what I assume is entertainment/socialising purposes.
Shisha has been around for many centuries, but recently has had a worldwide rise in popularity, which was brought to the attention of the esteemed Islamic Scholars of al-Azhar, who have given the legal verdict of it being considered Haraam.
My argument today isn't the Islamic legal opinion on the Shisha itself, rather I would like to analyse and bring to your attention the sub-culture surrounding it.
Let us take a look around at the average shisha cafe in the UK. A group of guys walk in, looking all slick with a fresh haircut, neatly ironed jeans, un-creased T-shirts, eyebrows tweezed, subtle make-up on the face, an average group of metrosexual young men trying to act as tough and gangsta as possible to impress everyone in the place. So the guys go to a table, order a few drinks, a shisha or 2, and let the 'scanning' of 'talent' begin (also known as 'perving'). Call me a liar, I dare you Mr. Metrosexual!
Shisha cafes offer a sensory arousing atmosphere, with dim lights, often warm colours, loud music, with a huge amount of free mixing taking place. The girls are looking for a boyfriend; the guys are looking for the next 'gyal' that they can get with, to add to the tally. These places are breeding grounds for Zina; a major sin.
The youth of today are spending an awful lot of valuable time and wasting a lot of money in these shisha cafes/bars. Both of which are looked down upon in the Shariah. Can you imagine what you could have accomplished in that time, or done with that money, both of which are now wasted.
Our primary concern in this temporary life is not self-satisfaction. Sure we can have fun, we don't have to live like robots, but our primary concern should be pleasing the Almighty Lord. We can't achieve that goal by going against his commandments.
I'm not here to take any shisha bars out of business, I'm not here to tell you the fatwas against the smoking of shisha, I'm not here to tell you that the music you listen to in shisha cafes is Haraam, I'm not a health advisor, so I won't bring up the world health organisations’ research, nor am I a financial planner here to tell you how to spend your money and I am not a life coach, telling you how to spend your time either.
Think about how many salah times have come and gone while you sat with your friends, flirted with the opposite sex and smoked a flavoured shisha. A day will come when we stand in front of our Lord Almighty and we will have to answer for the things we did, what excuse will we have for missing salah when we were in a shisha bar.
Many people may have noticed that shisha cafes are at their busiest during the nights of Ramadhan. All the youth skip taraweeh prayer and spend time at shisha bars. During the month in which most mercy descends, the months that the Lord Almighty opens the gates of heaven, instead of spending some time in the mosque praying, the youth frequent shisha cafes and effectively they are running away from mercy. Ultimately, if you run away from mercy, you run towards wrath. Let this soon coming Ramadhan not be like previous ones where we ignore the call of the Lord.
If you consider me at all, consider me an abstract reminder. The next time you are sat with your friends at a shisha cafe, take a moment to step out of the situation and assess it critically. Ask yourself if the environment is halal, the music, the mixed company of both males and females, the conversation, the health repercussions, the Shariah legality of smoking shisha, the time and the money being wasted.
Is this just another rant, yet again from this Mad Mullah, or do I have a point? I leave you with this food for thought, put it in your shisha pipe and smoke it.
Fraaz Rehman, 19, Manchester
With the recent rise in popularity of shisha bars the “mullahs” are now finding another reason for criticising the youth. According to many religious scholars shisha is haram whereas others say it’s the cafes and bars that are haram and not the shisha itself. I believe this matter to be trivial but for the sake of argument let’s entertain this notion.
Let us start by looking at why Shariah has deemed shisha itself to be haram. The reason they say it is haram is because it is worse than cigarettes and very hazardous to health.
It is said that “The tobacco – as well as jiraak (something similar to tobacco) and mu‘assal (mild, flavoured tobacco) – which are smoked in the shisha are no different from regular cigarette tobacco that is rolled up in papers”.
This similitude is perhaps, the reason why scholars have deemed shisha to be haram and which may be based on the findings of the World Health Organisation.
I have done my own research and I know that shisha is nowhere near as bad for you as cigarettes and where all these articles and opinions about hookah being worse than cigarettes comes from, is the inaccurate propaganda filled World Health Organisation report.
They didn’t set up hookah like it is set up in the West but instead, set it up like the old aged Middle Eastern method where the foil is not used to rest the coal rather the coal is placed on top of the tobacco. This is where all the results have been altered.
As a result of this, the tobacco is burned and this causes the tobacco to combust whereas in modern methods of smoking we use a foil piece to separate the flavour and the coal causing the tobacco to be warmed and not burned.
This changes things greatly because the tobacco becomes extremely harmful when it is burned as this is when the carcinogens are released. For more information on the inaccuracies of the World Health Organisation report pay a visit to this site http://www.velvetgloveironfist.com/kamal_chaouachi_interview.php where an expert gives his “take on hookah”.
I have given you just one reason as to why shisha is not as harmful to you as cigarettes. There are many more reasons but yes, nonetheless shisha is still not “good for you”.
Ladies and gentleman, if we are going to label shisha as haram because it is “not good for you” then we have to label 90% of our diets as haram. We consume way too much meat, consume more E numbers than we actually need to, and drink too many fizzy drinks. To summarise, shisha itself in my humble opinion is not haram.
Now if the argument is that shisha cafés are haram then to a certain extent I agree. Many cafes now have started to resemble clubs or at least are trying to mimic the atmosphere with a DJ playing loud music and a dance floor. Yes I agree that this type of shisha cafés are haram and it is pretty self-explanatory.
The problem I have is when religious people start labelling all shisha cafes as haram because of this. It is unfair to the owners who have tried to stay away from the clubbing atmosphere. There are many on the famous Wilmslow road in Manchester, which are quiet shisha bars that follow the conventional set-ups by being relaxing and mellow. The music is almost always played at sane levels so conversations between friends can occur and most of the time the words are in Arabic so no one can understand a word anyway!
Now let’s move on to another reason why it is deemed as haram. Some say “shisha cafes are a breeding ground for the major sin of zina” because of the fact that the environment encourages free mixing. My argument for this would be the fact that this depends entirely upon the individual and not the shisha café.
When you are at work, at a supermarket, an airport lounge or you are walking down the street, you can be approached by the opposite sex. So I guess the same principal applies. Shall we start labelling these everyday activities as haram also?
Some shisha bars cater strictly for females on certain nights and have an all-female staff. Is that haram? Even when there aren’t ladies nights available, they make sure it is a respectable environment.
For example, my local Shisha bar is relatively small and caters for about 40 people at the moment and I can recall when some young adults were getting all “touchy feely” with each other, the owner gave them a stern telling off, reminding them that there are other people in the room and what they are doing is morally wrong.
There was another instance when a group of girls came in and felt uncomfortable as they realised that they were the only girls in there. The owner noticed this and had a word with the other punters to be respectful and not to approach them. Shisha cafes like this do exist but I guess as “Asians” we like to complain about the easy stuff. Maybe it’s in our genes, lol.
To summarise, I think shisha itself is not haram and certain cafes are not haram but I think we need to stop worrying about the smaller issues like shisha that are not really destroying our communities. The fact that our communities are not even communities anymore is more damaging to the youth.
Mosques, back in the golden days used to be the most fundamental aspect for the community but now the single function they provide are for prayer or learning how to read Quran. What mosques should really be doing is providing activities for the youth to prevent them from feeling bored and pursuing other “frowned upon” measures of entertainment. But hey, the elders don’t want to talk or tackle these things and would much rather criticise what I call the “frustrated youth” that are stuck in their ways because there are not many opportunities provided for them. Let’s teach youth to become critical thinkers. Let’s teach the youth to better themselves instead of telling them what to do all the time and what to think.
Humayra Mogra, 18, Birmingham
The main reason why I would like to advise the youth, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike regarding Shisha is because of the health risks that are involved. Strangely enough many people believe that Shisha is not as bad as cigarettes because the tobacco is flavoured and passes through water first, but why have we neglected all of the other factors?
Why have we forgotten about the carcinogens? Why have we abandoned the high carbon monoxide levels? And why have we not thought about the nicotine levels? All of these are still present and so you may ask, what's the big deal?
Well, carcinogens, if we can recall from GCSE Biology are cancer causing chemicals. High levels of carbon monoxide can lead to brain damage and unconsciousness and nicotine can lead to addiction, high blood pressure and an increased heart rate, all of which are harmful for our bodies.
Research carried out by the World Health Organisation shows that the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long Shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of between 100 and 200 cigarettes. Findings also suggest that on average a smoker will inhale half a litre of smoke per cigarettes, while a Shisha smoker can take in anything from just under a sixth of a litre to a litre of smoke per INHALE.
Also, the Shisha pipe itself is so gross and unhygienic. Do we ever give a thought to the people who have used the Shisha pipe that we are going to place our lips onto? It is most definitely used by people with cold sores, bad breath and unbrushed teeth, all of which make me want to gag.
Even more importantly, if they are not cleaned properly, the risk of spreading infectious diseases increases rapidly. Infectious diseases include tuberculosis which can affect the lungs, aspergillus which is a fungus that can cause lung infection and helicobacter which can cause stomach ulcers. All these fancy words may mean nothing to us, but we should be worried about what can be spread through sharing a pipe and the lack of thorough cleaning involved.
So, why do we still assume that smoking and Shisha are very different to each other and not similar in anyway? A regular Shisha smoker can expect to be at the same risks that smoking imposes. I hope that I have highlighted the negative aspects of Shisha itself. Please take what I have mentioned into consideration and I pray that Allah enables us to understand the real health risks that we are knowingly plunging ourselves into.