Drugs and Islam

By Emery, James | The World and I, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Drugs and Islam


Emery, James, The World and I


Religion and nationalism have been the refuge of scoundrels for many years, so I wasn't surprised when I heard that Haji Baz Mohammad, the Afghan criminal mastermind who's made millions of dollars from narcotics trafficking, state that he was selling heroin in order to wage a jihad against the United States. Right, and Al Capone sold booze and women to fund his soup lines.

The Taliban, who've earned over a billion dollars in the narcotics trade under the dubious guise of religious warriors, claim they are promoting drugs to attack the West. I suppose the Taliban consider the fact that millions of Muslims have become addicted to their drugs as collateral damage in their so-called "jihad."

The Qur'an bans the use and involvement with all intoxicants and mind-altering substances in the second surah, verse Arabic word khamara, which means to veil or conceal. Muhammad said that every intoxicant is khamr, and that every khamr is haram (the Arabic word for forbidden).

"Muhammad says that whatever alters the mind is khamr," said Ammar Amonette, the Imam at a large mosque. "So there is no question that drugs are khamr. There is a fatwa against alcohol and drugs. They are forbidden for the welfare of the individual and the community."

Within Islam, there are six essential fundamentals that must be defended. The first is religion and the second is human life. The third fundamental is the mind, which comes ahead of family, wealth, and honor. Anything that is a threat to one of these six things must be dealt with immediately. The Imam told me, "How can we expect people to make proper decisions if their mind is clouded? People who are on drugs are likely to commit crimes and violate moral laws."

"A lot of people would deny the fact that the Taliban are involved," continued the Imam, "especially people who support them. Within Islam, the Taliban are an outlaw group in many ways. As perpetrators in the drug trade, they are guilty of spreading corruption in society. They are responsible for the misery that befalls every individual or family."

The definition of khamr extends to anything that befogs or alters the mind. There is no compromise on this issue. No distinction between a little or a lot, as a single step in the wrong direction, such as one drink, would encourage additional steps, potentially dooming the individual and their family.

From a historical perspective, Muslim scholars considered anyone who sells alcohol, drugs, or other mind-altering substances to be far worse than the person who uses them. "The general attitude," said the Imam, "is to be lenient towards addicts and severe towards dealers, especially big dealers." Some Muslim scholars have said that anyone who sells khamr is considered to be an agent of Satan.

Another Imam I spoke to referred to drug addiction as a plague on society; a disease that weakens the addict physically and morally and destroys families, which are the foundation of Islamic culture. Virtually all Muslims worldwide, except the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other reprehensible groups, hold a deep loathing for anyone involved in the manufacture, distribution, or consumption of drugs.

Perhaps this point should be reinforced in Afghanistan and Pakistan through government sponsored public information programs that point out that opium cultivation and drug trafficking are forbidden by the Qur'an and in direct violation to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

Seminars could be held in each community to provide information on the impact of the drug trade that would include lectures, movies, photographs, and testimonials from victims and their families about the devastation of narcotics. These programs would be open to the public, with special invitations and seating for Imams, school teachers, and the press, who could be encouraged to reinforce the message through mosques, schools, and the media.

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