Marijuana and religion: Islam
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Cannabis use and the religion of Islam has always been a difficult subject. But you would be surprised to know that Islam has not always been stringent about their prohibition on cannabis use. In fact, many Muslim countries have been primary sources of the plant’s products and were actually distributors to the rest of the world.
Marijuana can still be a touchy subject, considering that Muslims can be the most radical religious group in the world, and it shows through their dedication to its practices. But it was not always like that.
HISTORY OF ISLAM AND MARIJUANA
While the relationship between Islam and cannabis had historically been described by experts as “problematic”, there was a point in time when cannabis was culturally accepted in several regions. Governments were more lenient about their policies on cultivation and some cannabis-related businesses were even allowed. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Morocco, in particular, were (and still are) territories that supplied Hashish to other parts of the globe.
But with the mass arrival of tourists who flocked the region for Hashish consumption, along with the pressure from the United States, Muslim nations were then forced to enact a law prohibiting the use of cannabis around 1957 The law was enforced in the 70s. Turkey alone is one of the biggest supporters of worldwide prohibition since cannabis was banned in the country in 1890.
OFFICIAL STAND OF ISLAM ON CANNABIS
As it is stated in the Qur’an, the use of any narcotic is prohibited, as it would result in “considerable adverse effects in terms of personal health and social cost”. This not only applies to its use, but to its possession, selling, buying, and transporting, as well.
What is mainly being looked at is the effect of THC on the human brain, and how it ultimately alters a person’s state of mind. And despite any other findings from around the world about how cannabis is not exactly intoxicating, the Islamic belief is standing by the scientific findings of how the chemical affects the manner in which a person thinks and discerns.
It is, however, an entirely different story when it comes to its medical benefits. There have been studies done from around the world about how cannabis is used to treat various ailments and at the very least act as a pain reliever. According to many Muslims, cannabis use should be permitted, provided that it will be prescribed by a trusted physician.
ISLAM AND CANNABIS IN PRESENT TIMES
Today, most Muslim countries are prohibiting the use of cannabis, for whichever purpose it may be. In places such as Saudi Arabia and Dubai, small amounts of marijuana can land a person in jail for up to four years if caught. He or she who intends to distribute the plant could be imprisoned for up to 25 years.
Yet, despite the strict laws against cannabis, countries like Iran, Egypt, and Lebanon are more permissive about its use. Particularly for the latter two aforementioned, consumption is still part of the day-to-day lives of their people, as long as it is not done out in the open in public.
Morocco is one of the few Muslim countries that have been debating the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana, but thus far no laws have been changed yet.
So if you are a cannabis connoisseur, and you plan to visit any Muslim country, it would be best to think twice before toking up. Unless you are pretty sure it is okay, a puff or two off that joint is not worth getting jailed over.