Why Do Some Muslims Smoke?

Question and answer details
As-Salamu alaykum. I am a 13-year-old boy and I’m confused about something. I read somewhere in my textbook that in the Quran it says that one must not pollute one’s body. I know that means taking drugs, smoking, or drinking. But people who are Muslims still smoke. Can you please explain?
Ælfwine Mischler
Salam dear brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

You are correct in saying that smoking is prohibited in Islam. Although smoking was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the Quran lays down general principles to guide our actions. There is enough evidence that smoking harms the smoker and those around him for scholars to declare that smoking is haram (prohibited) based on two verses that mean:

{Be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo! Allah loveth the beneficent.} (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

{And do not kill yourselves.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:29)

Your question, then, boils down to why do people sin? Why do they do things that are bad, even when they know those things will harm them?

You have to remember that what Islam tells people to do and what they actually do are not always the same thing. This is true for other religions, and also true for laws. Why do people break laws? Why do they rob or kill or cheat?

The reason is that people are basically good but they are also given free will to choose. It is that free will more than anything else, I think, that makes us human. Although we are all born essentially good, Satan tempts us to disobey God. Some of us are weaker than others and give in to those temptations more readily than others, but all of us sin to a greater or lesser degree.

But it is also important to note that God is All-Merciful and willing to forgive us if we repent and try to change our ways.

The problem with some sins—such as smoking, drinking, gambling, and others—is that they can become addictive so that it becomes extremely difficult to give them up. Some people never manage to give up their addictions, especially those that are physical, such as smoking and drinking. When they try to break their old habits, their bodies just cannot stand the withdrawal symptoms, and they end up smoking or drinking again.

So you may meet Muslims who started smoking when they were ignorant of Islam and didn’t realize that smoking is haram. Or, if they are converts to Islam, maybe they started smoking before they were Muslim. If these people later realize that smoking is sinful, they might not have strong enough willpower to overcome their addiction.

We should not be judgmental toward such people. Only God knows how much their bodies crave the substance they are abusing, and only He knows how much or how little effort they are making to overcome their addictions. Those of us who have never experienced an addiction cannot know what they are going through.

So, basically, brother, you have to accept that people are not perfect. Islam does not make perfect people; it only guides people so that they know which path to choose in order to move closer to perfection and closer to God.

I hope this answer is satisfactory. If you have more questions, please write again.

Thank you and please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

Original Sin or… Innocence?

Understanding the Concept of Repentance

Is the Ruling on Smoking Still Controversial?

What Does Islam Say About Smoking?

Quitting Smoking: A Story Worth Telling