Question: It is written in a book on Sufism, “Coffee, tobacco, and marijuana are worse than wine because it is possible to discharge wine from the body in 40 days, but it is very difficult to get rid of the others.” How can coffee and tobacco be worse than wine?
The statements in the book mentioned may be conveyed wrongly. It is written in the book Gıda Kimyası (Food Chemistry), “It has been proven that theine present in tea is the same as caffeine, which was previously seen as a different alkaloid. There is 2.5-3% caffeine in tea and 1.3% in coffee.
Caffeine increases memory, improves blood flow, warms the body, stops fatigue, and eases digestion. Much may affect nervous system. Even little coffee may have negative effect in the case of heart diseases, neurasthenic tendencies, and on children. (p. 658)
Caffeine in tea is twice as much as caffeine in coffee. If caffeine in coffee is declared haram, caffeine in tea must be haram too. If something is harmful in large quantities, it must not be consumed to that degree. It is haram too to eat so much as to harm the body. Some food is bad for some people. It is not right to consume things bad for a person. If tea or coffee in large quantities is harmful for a particular person, he/she should consume less. If it is still harmful in small quantities, one must avoid it altogether. If something is haram for an ill person, the impermissibility cannot be generalized to healthy people. Hadrat Imam-i Munawi wrote in his sharh to Jami-us-saghir that it was not haram or makruh to drink coffee. (Hadiqa, p.143)
If caffeine in coffee or tea and also nicotine in tobacco is consumed much, it will definitely be detrimental. If something lawful (mubah) is harmful for the body when it is consumed much, it will not be haram when it is consumed little. As for alcoholic drinks, even a drop of it is haram. Hadrat Imam-i Nawawi states, “As for liquid alcoholic drinks, even little is haram. It is permissible to use, as medicine, marijuana as little as not to intoxicate.” (Muhazzab)
As little opium as not to intoxicate is not haram. (Fath-ur-rahim, p. 30)
Hadrat Ibn Hajar al-Makki states: “Consuming opium and other poisonous plants in large quantities is haram, but it is permissible to use them in small quantities as medicine” (Zawajir).
Henbane that is intoxicant is mubah, but it is haram to be intoxicated with it. (Durr-ul-Mukhtar, vol. 3, p. 166)
Hadrat Ibn Abidin explains the statement above as follows:
It is permissible to use henbane as medicine. What is impermissible is its intoxicating amount. The hadith-i sharif “That which intoxicates in large quantities is haram in small quantities” is about liquid drinks. It is not haram to take poisonous plants or solid intoxicating drugs in small quantities. (Radd-ul-Mukhtar, vol. 5, p. 295)
Hadrat Ali Ajhuri states, “If smoking tobacco has an intoxicating effect or stops one from earning money to support one’s family, then it is haram. If it is not the case, smoking it is not haram.” (Ghayat-ul-Bayan)
Tobacco is mubah. (As-Sulh-u Baynal-Ihvan, Al-Ukud-ud-Durriyya, Tahtawi, Bariqa)
Hadrat Ismail Hakkı Bursawi wrote in his initial books that tobacco was haram because it was banned by the then-ruler and those smoking it were punished.
No scholar said that tobacco was haram in terms of israf (extravagance). It is israf for a poor person to drink beverages instead of water, but it is not israf for him to drink tea, coffee or tobacco as a habit.
The majority of Shafi’i scholars said that smoking a cigarette was makruh tanzihi. In the Hanafi Madhhab, it is makruh tanzihi like eating an onion or garlic. (Tahtawi)
If a great scholar bans his disciples from doing something mubah, the disciples should obey the order and avoid it, but the prohibition cannot be generalized to all people.
Health risks of tobacco
Of the people under 45 years of age, 80% of those dying of coronary artery are smokers.
People who smoke are 15 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who do not.
It has been demonstrated that 94% of those who get lung cancer are heavy smokers.
Infertility in non-smoking women is 3.8% while it is 41.8% in smoking women.
If one smokes a packet of cigarettes at home a day, it has a negative effect on children as if they smoked 5 cigarettes a day.
Especially the parents who smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy or lactation period may put the life of their babies into risk.