E-cigs declared 'haram' for Muslims in Malaysia

© Neil Hall
Malaysia's National Fatwa Council has declared smoking electronic cigarettes 'haram', citing religious and 'dangerous' health concerns. Local e-smokers are incensed, calling on the council to reconsider its strict edict.

"From the syariah [the Malay spelling of ‘Sharia’] aspect, it is detrimental to health. Islam forbids its followers from using things that can harm them directly or indirectly; immediately or gradually that can lead to death, damage the body, result in dangerous illnesses or harm the mind," the council's chairman, Dr. Abdul Shukor Husin, stated, according to the New Straits Times.

"E-cigarettes and vapes are categorized as repulsive due to its harming effects and bad smell. They also have an element of wastage, which is by spending money on things that are harmful and non-beneficial," he added.

"We are seeing women and school children showing interest in vape. The decision is made to prevent an unhealthy culture from spreading to future generations,” Husin said.

Electronic cigarettes are currently banned for Muslims in four Malaysian states. The Fatwa Council has called on the rest of the country to follow their example.

"Tonight's decision is also in line with the opinions of several other Muslim countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates," Husin said.

The Malaysian E-Vaperisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) has called on the National Fatwa Council to review its ruling, however.

According to Mevta President Rizani Zakaria, e-cigarettes should be rather viewed as a good alternative for nicotine.

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“If you view vaping as similar to cigarettes and shisha, of course it would be considered haram.

“But vaping is a different thing altogether and has changed the habits of cigarette smokers as many of them have stopped smoking,” Zakaria told the Rakyat Post.

“I’m not saying that vaping is a very good thing, but it certainly has a more significant impact on smokers wanting to quit compared with other alternatives such as chewing gum and patches,” he added.