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Muslim leaders asked to ban smoking

The British Medical Journal asks Muslim leaders to prohibit smoking under Islamic law.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 12:32 IST

Muslim leaders, especially in South Asia, should rule that smoking is prohibited under Islamic law to encourage Muslim smokers to quit, say doctors in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ).

A paper titled "Influence of Islam on smoking among Muslims" in the latest BMJ issue by Aziz Sheikh and other researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, requests help from the Muslim clergy in anti-tobacco campaigns given the religious unacceptability of smoking, reported the science portal EurekAlert.

The researchers analysed data on the prevalence of smoking in the 30 countries with the highest proportion of Muslims.

Smoking rates in each of these countries is significantly higher among men than women. The highest recorded rates among men are in Indonesia and Yemen, where over two-thirds smoke. Yemen also has the highest prevalence of smoking among women, almost a third of whom smoke, the paper said.

Numerous religious scholars and institutions in Middle Eastern and North African countries have recently declared smoking to be haram or prohibited.

However, the general view from the Indian subcontinent is that smoking is 'mukrooh' (lawful though discouraged), it said.

The authors contended that South Asian religious authorities needed to follow their Arab-speaking counterparts.

The authors believe that it is only a matter of time before South Asian scholars rule that smoking is prohibited and these rulings percolate through South Asian Muslim communities globally.

These rulings need to be backed up by advertising bans and support to stop smoking if they are to have much effect on smoking rates, they concluded.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 12:14 IST