This article was posted by Abu Zakarya to the Islamic forum Gawaher.com. A modified version was later published in Q-News.
Bismillahir rahmanir raheem.
On Sunday, 12th October after dhuhr salah, I attended the seminar by Hizb ut Tahreer commissioned by Croydon Masjid called “Drugs: an Islamic Perspective”. I went on behalf of the Union of Former Hizb ut Tahreer Members and Students to offer my support to them in this very important issue since I am a doctor specialising in the field of Addictions. However, what I discovered was a shocking manipulation of the drug addiction by a party that will use anything as a platform for their deviant views and many of whose followers are themselves addicted to drugs. Furthermore, they did a good deal of harm in the general campaign against drugs in the Muslim Ummah.
It should first be said that Hizb ut Tahreer is currently undertaking a drugs campaign in London - they have been active across South London and have held seminars in Tower Hamlets. Croydon Masjid’s management committee contains a number of HT students and supporters so when it is said this seminar was arranged by Croydon Masjid, this is akin to saying it was organised by HT. Moreover, the Chairman of the seminar told me he wanted HT to do this seminar to reward them for their help in the running of the masjid such as cleaning, etc. I also spoke to the Imam who said he had questioned why this seminar was given to HT.
The seminar was divided into two parts: one was talks by “experts” and the other was talks by ex-users and a dealer. The experts were both HT members or students. Alhamdulillah the ex-users were very good and showed no signs of “HTness”. The two HT speakers included one newly qualified GP who has little or no experience in drug misuse and had actually asked me for advice before the day of the talk. His answers to questions demonstrated a lack of even basic knowledge of Addictions…clearly he was chosen due to his affiliation with HT ahead of the many experts in drugs in the area who are Muslim. The second “expert” was a member of HT who didn’t seem to know what certain drugs were and publicly refused to condemn as haram the following three drugs: tobacco, khat and amphetamines.
My hope of helping the Muslims of Croydon with a good project turned to despair as I heard the HT member start talking about “the absence of Khilafah”. The issue of drug misuse is a very serious on in the Muslim community not just in England but all over the world. People’s lives are literally smoked or injected away - this issue is not a political football. It became clear that HT had simply used this issue as a platform to propagate their views about what they consider the “real” issue - Khilafah. No-one doubts the importance of Khilafah but to a 20 year old unemployed Muslim who spends ÃÂ£1,000 a day by stealing to feed his drug habit, is he to wait until before he can get help? NO! There is no need. We already have many treatments that can help now!
However, the speakers clearly had no idea what drug treatment entails. They rubbished things which are standard interventions which actually work. Hence, they discouraged those with addictions from getting help without offering any alternative. In fairness, the HT member who spoke did say that rehabiltation centres do some good. Unfortunately, the multitude of HT supporters who been shipped in from all over and outside Croydon including one of the management committee suggested their was no effective treatment and the overall impression they gave was that there was no solution until Khilafah!
At the end of the seminar, they handed out “drug information packs”. What a joke! If the issue wasn’t so serious, I’d split my sides laughing. I rather felt like crying when I saw an unreadable assortment of literature on drugs and an “Islamic ruling” on drugs by…you guessed it…a member of HT. We in the drug services are not perfect - far from it - we recognise we are fighting an uphill battle and the Muslim workers understand the need for a combined approach with da’wah. However, when we produce drug literature, we try to make it accessible to users - they are not going to read a 20 page article and they also need practical advice on how to get help.
Now all this is quite bad enough I think. I will now elaborate on some of the other disgraceful HTisms which they came out with on Sunday. One HT follower stood up and claimed that a sudy published in a journal looked at a Muslim community with a drug problem. When they researched what helped them, they realised it was the arrival of HT in their community! Subhanallah, next time I get someone with alcohol withdrawal syndrome, maybe I should prescribe a dose of HT….NOT!
At what point I asked why these HT followers were advising the youth on drugs when many of them are addicted to the most dangerous drug of them all: nicotine. Furthermore, their “scholars” have permitted the use of the intoxicating stimulant Khat and one follower even told one of my friends that Amphetamines were “doubtful”! I asked explictly for the HT member to say the following drugs are haram: tobacco, khat and amphetamines but he refused. In fact, he claimed there was a difference of opinion on these drugs; when I stated that Khat was undoubtedly an intoxicant, the most he would say was the following fudged statement: “IF it is intoxicating, it should be condemned.”
You may feel that was progress to get him to say that…wrong! Afterwards, I was surrounded by emotionally aroused HT followers. Many of them had the yellow teeth and rotting smell of tobacco on their breaths! They not only supported Khat use but tried to tell me that tobacco was not harmful!!!!!! (I noted the doctor in their number was sheepishly quiet at this juncture.)
When I categorically proved that tobacco is indeed harmful (actually, today I got one of them to admit that he would not allow his pregnant wife to smoke because it is harmful but not because it is haram!), they changed the goalposts and said Islam does not forbid harmful substances. However, the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “No harm may be inflicted on oneself or others” (Ibn Majah, Ahmad). Maybe it is not mutawatir so they chose to overlook this hadith!
The HT member who spoke then started to say they don’t accept tobacco as a drug because this is a Western definition of drugs! Subhanallah, a drug is a drug - it has nothing to do with Shari’ah: it’s like saying I don’t accept the Western definition of the colour purple! So now he started to say that drugs in Islam only means Khamr and that harmful substances are neither here nor there despite actually knowing the hadith above. Even if this were true, what about Khat which IS khamr?
Some ignoramuses even started to claim there is no medical evidence that smoking is harmful. My God! I have been in medicine since 1992; have I missed something? There is a consensus amongst doctors going back 50 years that smoking is harmful. Professor Muhammad Ali al-Barr, member of the Royal College of Physicians, says that “Smoking hazards are not to be denied. It is far more dangerous to health than the plague, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis and leprosy combined.”
I would go further and say that tobacco is more harmful to the body than heroin. Now the interesting bit is this: I’ve been researching tobacco use. It is true that some early scholars permitted its use - why? It would appear that they did not have all the information that we now know about smoking. They didn’t know it caused so many diseases, it was addictive and indeed an intoxicant (which I’ll explain later). Many people rightly point out that it is haram because it is harmful to the body, it wastes wealth and harms others. (Editor’s note: scholars have been saying tobacco is haram since the 18th century on the grounds of harm to body and mind. See “Reliance of the Traveller”, section w41.)
However, I will now tell you something which even most doctors don’t know. Nicotine is an intoxicant (Khamr). If you don’t believe me, pick up the 10th Revised Edition of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases. It is easy to see why people overlook its intoxicating effects since people seem to smoke up to a hundred cigarettes in one day without losing their senses. However, this is not the whole story. When a person first smokes, he experiences intoxication which is similar to the effects of marijuana and whose “drug-liking” effect is as high as cocaine.
The person experiences coughing, nausea, dizziness, euphoria and light-headedness. These effects very quickly wear off as the smoker becomes tolerant to these effects. The addict, therefore, no longer becomes intoxicated - this is similar to alcohol addicts who can drink vast quantities of alcohol and remain sober. It will not be surprising then if I say that nearly 100% of smokers are addicted to it and 80% want to stop but can’t. When they give up smoking they get Nicotine Withdrawal Syndrome hence only 5% of smokers ever manage to stop.
It is clear, therefore, that this drugs campaign by HT is bogus. They are unqualified in this field and are preventing Muslim addicts getting the help they need now. Furthermore, many of their own devotees are drug addicts. They claim to be against Capitalism yet they themselves line the pockets of American tobacco companies. The rate of smoking is higher in poor countries than it is the West and amongst Muslims it probably causes more deaths than all the other drugs out together! Khat is a drug which devastated the Somali community and there are fears of an epidemic here in the UK. Wake up HT! Put your own house in order then people might listen to you preaching about drugs. How are you going to run an Islamic state/fight Jihad when you are stoned or wasting away from cancer?