Q. I have been doing some research on Marijuana and Islam. I have found the following: O you who believe! Truly, intoxicants and gambling and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan’s doing: avoid it in order that you may be successful. Assuredly Satan desires to sow enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from salat. Will you not then desist? (5:93-94 (90-91)

As well as: The Prophet (peace be on him) was once asked about certain drinks made from honey, corn, or barley by the process of fermenting them until they became alcoholic. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him), blessed as he was with the best of speech replied succinctly, “Every intoxicant is khamr, and every khamr is haram.” (Reported by Muslim).

Through my research someone put this statement across: Intoxicants ARE haram in Islam. What is an intoxicant? Anything that can lead to physical and mental damage and (with some substances) dependence and addiction. The closest example of an intoxicant is alcohol. Alcohol has been proven to cause physical and mental damage – liver problems, brain problems, etc. If you drink enough of it in one sitting then you have a chance of DEATH. It’s also very addicting.

Compare this with marijuana … Marijuana does not cause physical or mental damage. (Smoking it might cause some lung problems, but not if you use a vaporizer or eat it). In fact, it is used as MEDICINE in many parts of the world. There is NO chance that you will die if you take too much, and it’s not addicting. Therefore, marijuana is NOT an intoxicant.

SO MY QUESTION IS: Why did Allah put Marijuana on Earth? Did Allah put Marijuana on Earth? A lot of people who use marijuana claims that it puts then in a tranquil state, keeps them calm, helps them to better focus and concentrate, they are not addicted, doesn’t use it for recreational purposes like liming on the block or friends using it so they using it too. THEREFORE: can you explain to me if it is Haraam or not and why? I am not looking for opinions from scholars, I am merely looking for facts from the Qur’an and Hadith and its explanations.

A. All scholars have clearly stated that marijuana and other similar herbs and drugs are totally haraam in Islam. The Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Every thing that intoxicates is haraam.’ The word which has been used for intoxicant is ‘khamr’ and in the Arabic language this word ‘khamr’ refers to everything that befogs the mind. It is very clear and well established that marijuana, hashish, opium, etc. all befogs the mind and they take a person into a different state (of mind).

What you have mentioned about marijuana being something that people have claimed that ‘they feel tranquil’, ‘they can better focus’ etc. can equally be said about intoxicating drinks. In fact, medical doctors have proven that taking a drink of wine/alcohol is beneficial to one’s health.

With respect to searching from facts from the Holy Quran and hadith, then this can only be achieved through the explanations of the scholars who are endowed with the knowledge of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.

The Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet (S.A) and he was ordered by Allah to explain to mankind that which has been revealed to him. The Holy Quran states, ‘And We have sent down unto you the reminder (the Quran) that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them and that they may give thought.’ (16:44)

Based on this order, the Prophet (S.A) explained the meaning and message of the Quran to the companions who then learnt it, preserved its teachings and communicated it to others. In this way, scholars in every era learnt these teachings, preserved them and transmitted it to others. This continued in every era in the past and continues until present. It must therefore be understood that opinions, religious verdicts and explanations from authentic and sound scholars are not a result of their fabrications and individual opinions. Instead, it is from the teachings and explanations of the Prophet (S.A) which have come through generations of Muslims.

If you wish to find the ruling of marijuana in clear words from the Holy Quran and hadith, then you will not find it, however this does not mean that it is lawful. In a similar manner, you will not find the words like whisky/beer/rum etc. in the Quran or hadith, yet they are all haraam in Islam.

Words and names are not the only things that must be looked at, what is also important is that when the reason/cause for the prohibition of a thing is found in another matter, then the same ruling will apply. As such, all forms of intoxicants are haraam in Islam whether they cause physical or mental damage or not. The real cause for the prohibition of intoxicants is that they befog and becloud the mind, they blunt the senses and takes a person from his original normal state to a state of ‘feeling high’ which people wrongfully attribute to feeling tranquil. Although marijuana may not do as much physical or mental damage like that of alcohol, it nevertheless causes damage to its user. Besides, it befogs the mind and affects the senses just as alcohol and other drugs do.

As given in the dictionary, the word ‘intoxicate’ means, ‘to affect temporarily with diminished physical and mental control by means of alcohol, liquor, a drug or another substance.’ (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English language – Deluxe Edition pg. 1000)

If one looks carefully at the definition of ‘intoxicate’ (as given above), he will find that it is equally fitting for the user of marijuana just as it is for the user of alcohol. As for the word marijuana, the same dictionary gives the definition as, ‘the dried leaves and female flowers of the hemp plant, used in cigarette as a narcotic or hallucinogen.’ (pg.1176)

Here, it is clearly established that marijuana is a substance which is used as a narcotic and/or for the purpose of producing hallucinations. To say that marijuana is not an intoxicant is totally wrong, since it is accepted by experts that it falls within the definition of an intoxicant which intoxicates.

As highlighted before, it is clear that an intoxicant is anything which intoxicates. In Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English language pg. 1000, it is written, ‘Intoxicant – an
intoxicating agent, as alcoholic liquor or certain drugs.’ Further to this, the word intoxicate is defined as ‘to stimulate or excite to a point beyond self control.’ (Collins Student’s Dictionary for the Caribbean pg.432)

What is to be noted from these definitions, is that the effect that marijuana has on a person falls within the definition which has been given for the words ‘intoxicant’ and ‘intoxicate’. It causes stimulation and also excites to the extent that at times a person is not in his right state of mind. Many experts have dealt with this subject, and based on their investigation, they have concluded that marijuana causes physical and mental damage. (This is in total contrast to what you have mentioned in your question).

In the book ‘Marijuana – Answers for Young People and Parents’ published in February 1989 by Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Canada, the following is written: ‘Let’s consider the typical effects of marijuana on normal adults, who are occasional users, when they smoke low to moderate amounts of this drug. (We’ll define ‘low to moderate’ as 5-10 puffs (‘tokes’) from a single marijuana cigarette.)’

‘Shortly after the first few puffs, most smokers become physically inactive and relaxed, and begin to feel less inhibited. They often become more outgoing and talkative and may laugh spontaneously, although some experience periods of quietness and reflection. They may feel that their senses have become keener, and relatively unimportant objects in the environment may take new or special meaning. Perceptions of time and space may change, so that, for example, time may seem to pass very slowly and estimations of distance may become inaccurate. Attention span and the ability to concentrate may be reduced and the ability to remember things that just happened may be impaired. Also, the abilities to process information and the ability to perform complex tasks are hindered.’

‘Several physical effects which often occur include impaired balance when standing, more rapid heartbeat, reddening of the eyes, increased appetite (the ‘munchies’), dryness of the mouth and throat, and drowsiness’.

‘Many users experience confusion or anxiety at one time or another. These effects are particularly common in new users, but also occur in regular users. Many of these effects can interfere dangerously with the ability to drive or to use other complicated machinery. Engaging in athletic activities could prove hazardous. Further, the effects of marijuana make it very difficult both to study and retain what is learned’. (Marijuana – Answers for Young People and Parents pg.11-12)

On page 13 of the said book, it is written, ‘Some users (of marijuana) may experience frightening hallucinations – imagined experiences which the individual believes to be real, such as hearing voices when no one is speaking or seeing things which are not really there’. While discussing the aspect of health effects of marijuana, the research states, ‘Perhaps the area of greatest agreement among researchers concerns the damaging effects of inhaled marijuana smoke on the respiratory system. A single marijuana cigarette yields twice as much tar as a strong tobacco cigarette, and marijuana tar contains substantially higher amounts of some known cancer-producing agents than does tobacco tar.’ (Marijuana – Answers for Young People and Parents pg.15-16).

What can be concluded from these quotations is that marijuana causes physical and mental damage and is a health hazard to its users. In a similar manner, while discussing the topic of ‘How Marijuana Works’ in the book, ‘How Drugs Work’, the author Gesina L. Longenecker, Ph.d, explained that Ganja (a common street name for marijuana) has the active ingredient called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The writer further states, ‘THC produces so many effects that it is difficult to adequately classify it as other than a unique psychoactive drug, affecting the mind and behaviour. THC effects occur through specific THC receptors. Low level effects are similar to those of alcohol – mild central nervous system (CNS) inhibition’. (pg.98)

‘Increasing doses produce euphoria by a mechanism that may also involve morphine like compounds’. (pg.98)

‘Decreased testosterone levels, and decreased sperm count and motility, can occur with long term use. The menstrual cycle is likewise disrupted in females’. (pg.89)

‘THC (which is found in marijuana) crosses the placenta readily. Dose-related decreases in birth weight and head circumference of exposed newborns have been noted. Babies exposed regularly to THC before birth may show signs of CNS excitation in the neonatal period, including tremors, frequent startle reactions, increased hand-to-mouth activity, and hyperactive reflexes’. (pg.98)

‘Recent data indicates significant physical damage to neutrons in the hippocampus, a brain area essential to normal memory processes, in long term, heavy users’. (pg.98)

It is well established from these researches, that marijuana is damaging to one’s health, it intoxicates and also has similar effects to that of liquor.

With respect to your statement that ‘it is not addicting’, I do not agree with you. In fact, the opposite is quite evident as it is seen by many that people who begin to use marijuana in small doses soon become heavily addicted to it. Scientists have proven that users of marijuana become physically and psychologically dependent on this drug. They have explained, ‘Physical dependence occurs when the body gradually changes the way it functions in the presence of a drug. The ‘normal’ state of the body then occurs only when the drug is present. When it is absent, unpleasant symptoms are experienced. These symptoms are collectively referred to as a ‘withdrawal reaction.’ ‘People can become psychologically dependent on a wide variety of drugs, including marijuana, no matter what dose is regularly used. The psychologically dependent user has a strong need to continue taking the drug, a persistent craving for its effects, and considers the drug to be a necessary part of daily life. Anxiety (and even feelings of panic) may result if the drug is not available. People can be psychologically dependent on marijuana without being physically dependent on it.’ (Marijuana – Answers for Young People and Parents pgs. 22, 23).

These passages are self explanatory, and one can see clearly that marijuana is addicting. With respect to the so-called ‘calmness’, ‘tranquil state’ etc. that people may experience through the use of marijuana, this cannot be used as a justifiable reason to bring about the allowance for any substance. In fact, the same effects are experienced by the users of liquor and cocaine. Can we then say that both would be permissible in Islam?

The feelings that are produced by these drugs/drinks is an effect which reaches the brain and makes one experience different feelings. This however, is no relaxation or tranquility in reality. The truth is that these substances cause considerable damage to one’s health as researchers have shown.

Although one may not use marijuana for recreational purposes like liming on the block etc. it still remains haraam and cannot be used. When a thing has been declared unlawful, it remains with this rule at all places and at all times.

With respect to the other question as to ‘why Allah put marijuana on earth? One can simply respond by asking, ‘why did Allah create the swine’ (if we are prohibited from eating it)? Muslim males can also ask, ‘why has Allah created gold, when they are prohibited from wearing it?’ The questions can go to many different areas, if one does not have the proper understanding of the concept of halaal and haraam in Islam. As Muslims, we firmly believe that Allah has created each and everything in this universe. However, there are many things that are not good for our health and our well being. Those things which are good for us, have been made lawful and those that are not good for us have been made unlawful and haraam. This division of things into halaal (lawful) and haraam (unlawful) are connected to many different areas of our lives and we are ordered (as Muslims) to adhere to these rulings. It exists in the area of clothing, ornaments, work, trade, marriage, divorce, conduct, eats, drinks, etc, etc.

In the Holy Quraan, Allah has highlighted many things which are totally unlawful for us by their names, and has prohibited us from using them. He has also identified many others as being unlawful by giving general principles, which would be used as the criterion to determine the ruling of different things.

With respect to the aspect of ‘intoxicants’ and ‘intoxicating substances’, we see clearly that it is the action of men which has brought about such destructive state of pure and wholesome drinks. Wine and other intoxicating drinks (actually) originate from juices that are all lawful for Muslims. The grape juice, the dates, sugar-cane juice etc are all pure and wholesome. Allah has not made these unlawful; instead, they are all drinks and juices which can be consumed by all Muslims, without being doubtful about them. However, it is men who with the intention of wrongdoing have taken these pure drinks and juices to a state which becomes impure and unlawful to consume.

Regarding this conduct of man, Allah says in Sura An Nahl (16) verse 67, “And from the fruits of date palms and grape vines, you obtain intoxicants, and a good provision. Surely, in that there is a sign for a people who understand’.

Here, there is a clear message that Allah has created beneficial food and fruits for man. However, while some would take it as a good provision for their sustenance to gain strength and energy, others would use it to obtain intoxicants and spread wrongdoing in the land. The same is applicable to herbs and the leaves of different plants. There is no doubt that these may contain medical properties that are useful and beneficial for man. However, there is no doubt that those filled with evil intent have used these substances for unlawful purposes just as people have used the grape and fruit juices for unlawful purposes. Hence, when people have taken these products from its beneficial and useful state to that which intoxicate, befog the mind, and harm the individual, the Shariah has pointed out that these results are not from the intent and objective of the creator (of these drinks) and so, it would be totally unlawful to use, consume and partake of any of these. It is for this reason, Allah has out rightly mentioned in the Holy Quraan that, ‘intoxicants are an abomination of satan’s handiwork. So avoid that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.’ (5:90)

With respect to the Ahadith, it is clearly established in a tradition narrated from Um Salma (R.A) that the Prophet (S.A) prohibited every intoxicant and every drink/substance that bring about an intoxicating effect. (Recorded by Ahmad in his Musnad and Abu Dawood in his Sunan).

In another tradition narrated by Abdullah bin Abbass (R.A), he said, ‘Everything that befogs the mind and every intoxicating substance is haraam (unlawful).’ (Recorded by Abu Dawood).

While highlighting the ruling of such herbs, drugs and substances that cause intoxication or change the natural state of the mind of a person, the scholars have unanimously declared all to be totally haraam and unlawful in Islam. Dr. Wahba Az Zuhaili has dealt with this topic extensively in his book Al Fiqhul Islami Wa Adilatihi on pages 5512 – 5516 and summarized the investigation in the following words:-

‘The ruling of the shariah pertaining to all those substances, drugs, herbs etc. that cause one to be doped, narcotized, drugged, stupefied and brings about a ‘high type’ feeling is that they are all haraam and unlawful except in cases where it is used for medical purposes (as prescribed by sound, genuine and authentic medical experts, in which case it will not cause an intoxicating effect). (Page 5513).

He further writes ‘The prohibition of these substances is just like the prohibition of intoxicants, about which the shariah’s text (proofs) have been given in the Holy Quraan and Prophet’s sunnah. These are firmly established to be totally haraam’ (Page 5513). He then writes on page 5516, ‘Certainly all these substances (referring to the different leaves and plants that people use as drugs) that came after the sixth century A.H are all Haraam just as intoxicants’ (Al Fiqhul Islami wa Adilatihi Vol. 7 Page 5516).

Here, Dr. Wahba referred to all those substances which were discovered by people and were used for pleasure and excitement, after the time of the Prophet (S.A) and the generations that followed. As for that which existed or were known to exist at the time of the Prophet (S.A), the Sahabahs and the early generations, and were used in the afore-mentioned manner, they were all condemned as being haraam and unlawful. However, those things which did not exist around them nor did they have any knowledge of its existence and usage, they did not speak about them. In this regard Dr. Wahba has written, ‘Certainly, the four Imams (of fiqh) did not speak about these substances because they did not exist at their times (nor did they know about it). It became known at the end of the sixth century and the beginning of the seventh one when the rule of the Tartars was established (Al Fiqhul Islami wa Adilatihi Vol. 7 Pg. 5513).

With all these explanations and based on the information given, there should remain no doubt in the heart/mind of a Muslim that marijuana is totally haraam/unlawful in Islam.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan