Hookah the Horrible: the Haram?

Smoking Hookah (aka nargileh, argeelah, narjile, goza, water pipe, sheesha) has become fashionable among educated professionals and college kids in the United States. Smoking has always been a disease of the poor and uneducated, however, Hookah seems to be transcending these bounds. For some reason, hookah smoking has been able to make it out of the ghettos of uneducated Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt and make it to America’s university campii. Why are educated, intelligent young people taking up this habit? Is it peer pressure, mental illness, or just a fad?

It’s been estimated that 43% of cigarettes in the US are consumed by people with mental illness. Experts feel that smoking leads to depression, and depression leads to smoking. So are these kids using Hookah to help their mental illness?

A study on young people in the United Arab Emirates found that 69% of hookah smokers had a college education, while 23% had a high school education. Are they just ignoring the facts? Or do they not care? Do they have mental health disease?

Further, the myth about smokers losing weight  has been demystified. A recent study has shown that teenagers that smoke are more likely to be obese adults. Probably because if they are making bad choices as teens, they will likely make bad choices as adults. Further, they have an oral addiction. They constantly need to be putting things in their mouth.

Is Hookah better than cigarettes?
In two words: Hell No! In one study it was found that smoking Hookah for one hour is equivalent to smoking 200 (and up to 400) cigarettes. What if you are just around but don’t smoke? Even if you never touch the Hookah, if you are in the room for one hour, you have smoked nearly 100 (and up to 200) cigarettes. Another study found that one puff on a cigarette gives the user 50mL of smoke volume, whereas one inhalation on a Hookah pipe gives the user 500mL of smoke. Ten times more! And that’s on just one inhalation! It’s estimated that in a 30 minute Hookah session most adults consume approximately 50 Liters of smoke volume! Nearly 1000 times more! That is unbelievable!

Cancer shmanser!
We all know that smoke, tar, and the carcinogens in smoke cause all kinds of cancers. That is obvious. We don’t need to repeat those over and over. Bladder cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, oral cancer, tongue cancer, and nearly every other cancer! Not to mention it destroys your blood vessels from the inside out, which in turn destroys every organ system! Every single patient I have had that had a heart attack has been a smoker. Some as young as 26 and 32. Awful!

Other effects?
Young people don’t care if you tell them they will get cancer or a heart attack when they are old and die. What they care about is immediate results. Smoking causes yellow teeth, yellow, brittle hair, bad breath, wrinkles in your skin (especially on your face), bad hands and fingers (the tips of your fingers get fatter and shorter), vocal changes, tooth and gum disease, and a lot of things that are easily noticeable. Nasty! You can easily tell who is a smoker and who isn’t by how they look.

Is Hookah Haram?
The word Haram in Arabic and Islamic tradition means “religiously forbidden.” As Muslims, one of our most important tennets is “No harm and no harming”. This is very similar to the physician’s creed: “First do no harm!”

The Prophet Muhammad (and all religious leaders) have taught that people should not harm themselves. The Prophet Muhammad said: “No Harm and No Harming!”

Jesus and the Bible teach in Corinthians: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


Professional athletes are supposed to take care of their bodies and be ready to play and do very well. Surveys of former NFL players have shown a very low smoking rate compared to the national average. That should tell you enough!

I am no religious scholar by any means, but to me it’s pretty clear: Hookah is Haram (and Horrible)!


If you need resources and links to articles:

We all know that nicotine is not the worse part of cigarettes. That’s just the part that keeps you addicted. By far, smoking is the hardest addiction to break, mostly due to nicotine and it’s physically addicting properties. They want you addicted, and put it in their. The other part of smoke is the carcinogenic, wrinkle-ogenic, and nasty-ogenic parts.

Further, hookah does contain tar, nicotine, and carbon and much more than cigarettes:

The numbers on smoke volume come from “The Hookah Lounge”:

Which is actually a website that actually advocates the use of hookah as well as others who have connected hookah to machines and measured smoke volume. Those numbers are from a World Health Organization study. You can view the WHO advisory here:


Which is where most of the research comes from.

The Mayo Clinic also has a resource on Hookah:

and demonstrates hookah to cigarette equivalency.

An article here also shows that hookah smoke is just as bad, if not worse based on a JAMA article:

and here: