Q & A’s On Shisha Smoking

Does the smoothness of water pipe smoke mean it is safer than cigarette smoke?

While Shisha smoke is less irritating to the throat, it still contains tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. The smoothness of Shisha smoke may actually encourage deeper inhalation and thus greater exposure to these elements. The British Heart Foundation found that the average Shisha session lasts an hour, but you can inhale the same amount of smoke as 100 cigarettes in this period alone. The average cigarette requires 20 puffs whereas a Shisha session involves 200 puffs, causing a person to inhale approximately 90,000 millilitres of smoke compared to the 500-600 millilitres inhaled when smoking a cigarette. Even someone smoking over 20 cigarettes per day who can be classified as a ‘heavy smoker’ would still take over one week to cause the same amount of harm to themselves as a one-hour Shisha session. 

Does the water in a Shisha filter out harmful ingredients?

The water filters out only a small amount of the carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar, and heavy metals found in Shisha smoke. For example, less than 5% of nicotine is filtered out into the water. This nominal reduction of nicotine may be offset by a tendency to compensate by inhaling more deeply or more often to get the desired amount of nicotine. Even after passing through the water, the tobacco smoke produced still contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens).

Is Shisha smoking safer than cigarette smoking because the tobacco is not burned?

While the tobacco in a Shisha is heated rather than burned, it still produces smoke. In addition, Shisha tobacco is often lit using charcoal, which itself releases high levels of carbon monoxide. The levels of carbon monoxide (CO) produced and absorbed by Shisha smoking, which may be as high or higher than that of cigarettes, vary depending on Shisha size (higher CO in smaller Shishas), the type of hose on the Shisha (higher CO with a plastic hose), the type of charcoal, and the type of tobacco.

My Shisha tobacco says it has no tar. Does this mean it is safer to smoke than other tobacco?

Tobacco itself does not contain tar. Tar is created when tobacco burns. While several studies have found that tobacco smoked through a Shisha produces more tar than tobacco smoked in a cigarette, it has been suggested that it is the quality -not the quantity – of tar produced that is of concern.

Is Shisha smoking safer than cigarette smoking because the nicotine content is lower?

Since the nicotine content of both cigarettes and Shisha tobacco varies greatly, its hard to determine which product has higher nicotine. However, a meta-analysis of studies of Shisha smokers found that a person who smokes Shisha daily absorbs as much nicotine as someone who smokes 10 cigarettes per day, while an occasional Shisha smoker (once during a four-day period) absorbs as much nicotine as smoking two cigarettes per day.

Can I become addicted to smoking a Shisha?

Shisha smoking has potentially the same risks of dependence as any other way of using tobacco. However, the risks may be decreased slightly because of the intermittent, recreational nature of Shisha use.

Is smoking non-tobacco, herbal maassel harmful?

While herbal maassel does not contain nicotine, it still produces tar and carbon monoxide when burned, thus it is harmful.

Is smoking Shisha Halal?

Allah has bestowed upon us a trust in the form of our bodies, so it is our obligation to look after them for if we do not, our body and our limbs will speak to Allah on the Day of Judgement on how we misused and abused them.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“On a Day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do” [Al-Qur’an, 24:24]

There are many different avenues available that can corrupt our health. For example, as Muslims, we know that alcohol is Haram and the health fatalities and spiritual punishments that come from committing this major sin.

“Alcohol is the mother of all evils and it is the most shameful of evils.” [Ibn Majah]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said,

“If anyone from among my Ummah drinks wine, Allah will not accept their prayers for forty days” [Sunan Al-Nasā’i]

Similarly, no sane person on the surface of this earth will say there is benefit in smoking, especially when the manufactures themselves package them with a cautionary warning notice.

Smoking Shisha is addictive, harmful and can also be damaging to your Imaan without you realising until it is too late. We should not fall for the traps of Shaytan when he tricks you into smoking Shisha, convincing you it is not as bad as you think.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And spend in the way of Allāh and do not make your own hands contribute to your destruction. And do good; indeed, Allāh loves the doers of good.”

Think about this, how do you hold the Shisha pipe?

Can we go to a Shisha lounge?

Many scholars have publicly stated that even setting foot in a Shisha lounge is prohibited due to the whole host of problems it brings, such as free mixing, music, inappropriate dress code and indecent conversations, which can only lead to a gathering that will be a cause of regret on the Day of Judgement. The harmful pollution this environment brings with it would make the angels flee from such a gathering that is deprived of the remembrance of Allah. Though we know that clubs and pubs are prohibited, if we are not careful, Shisha lounges will take their place. And sadly for many perhaps they already have.

Even being in a Shisha lounge opting not to smoke is endangering your health by the people around you due to the second-hand smoke that you are passively inhaling, silently killing you. A study conducted by the World Health Organization has found that second hand smoke from Shisha increases the risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“It is Haram for you to bring harm upon yourself, and harm upon others.” [al-Hākim]

Islam does not accept any harm upon you or others, so anything that is harmful should raise an alarm bell by default. Dwelling over the abstract ruling given to a particular act – whether it literally is Haram or Makrook (disliked) – by this scholar or that, is often a distraction when considering something which it is so obviously better to avoid, even if purely for health reasons.

While the atmosphere and aromatic smell of Shisha lounges may be inviting, if you reflect on them nothing genuinely good emerges from such places and a scary thought is what if the angel of death came to you in that very location. Would you be satisfied dying in such an environment?


1. CESAR FAX – A Weekly FAX from the Center for Substance Abuse Research – Univ. of MD, College Park, June 9, 2008, Vol. 17, Issue 23

2. www.islam21c.com

3. www.bhf.org.uk