On the occasion of June 26th, the "International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking" we review the issue from the Islamic perspective.

On the occasion of June 26th, the "International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking" we review the issue from the Islamic perspective.

The strictest laws which prohibit the production, buying and selling, and using narcotics exist in the teachings of Islam. Based on these teachings, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to refrain from buying, selling, or using narcotics.‌

Introduction: Narcotics, an Insidious Threat to Human Life

What is the ugliest sight that comes to mind when one thinks about “addiction” and “drugs”? Probably homeless men and women sleeping on the side of the streets in cold winters and hot summers; or perhaps some drug addicts who are shooting up all sharing a single dirty syringe; or it could be the picture of a former drug addict who is now dying on a hospital bed due to deadly diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS, or lung cancer. Finally, one might be reminded of the picture of a person who, after shooting up had fallen prey to illusions, killing his own beloved family members or friends.

Undoubtedly, these are rather horrendous pictures of the evils of drug trafficking and misuse, but the personal and social evils of narcotics are far more horrible than these terrible pictures.

Addiction deprives one from their powers of rational thinking, creativity, and perseverance. It undermines the foundations of married family and paves the way for the addict and his family members to fall in to crimes such as murder, theft, and rape.

The problem of drug trafficking and misuse has caused several different problems including social violence, international terrorism and organized crime, and it seriously threatens public health.

The gradual growth of this problem over several decades finally brought the international community to recognize the serious threat posed by it. In 1987, a conference with regard to the problem of drugs and narcotics was held in the Austrian city of Vienna and a document was drafted in 4 chapters regarding it.

In this document, the UN state members were called upon to take certain actions toward fighting addiction and drugs. These were the following: prevention of addition through proper education; attention to the significant role of the media in helping the former drug addicts to be completely cured and be accepted by their communities; eradication of unauthorized poppy farms; destroying the major drug trafficking networks; and the legal collaboration of member states regarding this issue.


The Theoretical Bases of the Prohibition of Narcotics in Islamic Teachings      

The strictest laws which prohibit the production, buying and selling, and using narcotics exist in the teachings of Islam. Based on these teachings, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to refrain from buying, selling, or using narcotics. They are also required to prohibit their family members, relatives and friends from using drugs.

The Islamic laws indicate that whoever does anything toward facilitating the production, procurement, trafficking, or distribution of narcotics will incur heavy divine penalties. Moreover, according to the Islamic laws, any income earned through doing business with narcotics is illegitimate and unlawful.[1]

There is a general Islamic law which indicates that anything which is harmful to human beings or the human society is prohibited to be produced, stockpiled, distributed, sold, bought, and used. In fact, Islam has prohibited any sort of activity that has anything to do with such things.

If this law were put in to practice, we would not be seeing so many addicts on the corners of the streets all over the world and the healthcare system would not be so much preoccupied with the problems caused by such individuals. This is because, the Islamic law has prohibited all activities related to anything that could result in the destruction of human life.[2]


The textual proofs for this strict prohibition are as follows:

  1. The holy Quran has stated the following in verse 195 of Surah al-Baqarah:

وَلاتُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ

  • do not throw yourselves with you own hands in to destruction

According to official statistics, more than five million people die due to cigarette smoking every year and even more develop heart diseases, various kinds of respiratory problems, and cancers due to smoking.

Therefore, since smoking[3] can threaten one’s life it is considered an instance of putting one’s life in danger with one’s own hand and is, therefore based on the above-mentioned principle, prohibited.

  1. There is another famous Islamic principle known as the principle of “لَاضَرَرَ وَ لَاضِرَارَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” which is referred to frequently in various fields of Islamic jurisprudence. According to this principle, putting oneself in harm’s way or harming others are both prohibited in Islam.[4]

Although this principle was first introduced to prohibit harming others, the case about which it was first introduced cannot limit its application to only that specific instance because it is considered a general principle about harming human beings. Accordingly, it is considered to apply to “harming oneself” as well.

  1. There is a famous tradition from Imam al-Rida (̒a) which is as follows:

وَ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ يَكُونُ فِيهِ الْفَسَادُ مِمَّا قَدْ نُهِيَ عَنْهُ مِنْ جِهَةِ أَكْلِهِ وَ شُرْبِهِ ... فَحَرَامٌ ضَارٌّ لِلْجِسْمِ وَ فَاسِدٌ لِلنَّفْس‏[5]


Based on this tradition, anything that can cause serious harm to the body is prohibited. It should be noted that this principle does not include the small kinds of harm caused by almost anything that we come in contact with and which are unavoidable. This principle concerns the major and serious types of harm done to human body.

  1. The following is also one of the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence: كُلُّ ما حَكَمَ بِهِ الْعَقْلُ حَكَمَ بِهِ الْشَّرْعُ (meaning: any judgment which is made by the sound mind is also confirmed by the Divine Law). This principle also leaves no doubt that smoking and using drugs are prohibited from the viewpoint of the Islamic law. This is because all experts and scientists with sound minds have established that smoking and using drugs are detrimental to human body.[6]


Religious Belief, the Cure for inclinations toward Drugs  

Along with its laws which prohibit drugs, the divinely-sent teachings of Islam also offer solutions and treatments for the problem of drug addiction. It should be noted that the main reason for being drawn toward drugs is the feeling of emptiness and aimlessness that some people have. Other reasons include the feeling of being left alone in the face of problems, fear of death, extreme skepticism, fear of what might happen in the future and the bleak prospects of one’s personal life.

Without doubt, believing in the hereafter and one’s eternal life of peace in it can put an end to all of these concerns. This is exactly what has been referred to in the Quranic surah of Yūnus verses 62 to 64:

أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ * الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ * لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَىٰ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا...

Behold! The saints [and friends] of Allah, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve. Those who believed and [constantly] abstained from [defying the command of] Allah. Glad tidings are [truly] theirs in the life of this world and in the Hereafter ...[7]


Fighting Drugs, from Words to Actual Practice

Unfortunately, three decades after issuing the Declaration of International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, not only has not this worldwide problem been solved, it has become even more deeply-rooted and complicated.

For instance, official statistics and international reports in 2016 indicate that the use of drugs such as marijuana, and hashish as well as psychedelic pills has increased dramatically worldwide. These reports indicate that only in the year 2016 seventy five new types of psychedelic pills were produced.

There were also plans to replace poppy farms with those of coffee and cocoa; these plans, however, have all been passed in to oblivion. International statistics indicate that the amount of aid that was arranged to be paid by industrial countries to poorer countries to replace poppy farms with other substitute crops has decreased by 70 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Sixteen years after the US invasion of Afghanistan, this impoverished Asian country is still world’s first producer of opium with poppy farms of over 200000 hectares.

Poppy farms have reportedly been increased in Afghanistan by 77% in the past few years, despite reports which indicate that destroying poppy farms has intensified twofold in the country.

Based on the official speculations, more than half a million Afghans work on poppy farmlands and this number is more than the total number of the country’s military personnel!

Two factors seem to contribute the most to this dramatic increase in the amount of narcotics production in the world: first is that the narcotics business is extremely lucrative! According to international reports, the revenue of narcotics industry amounts to 400 b$ every year and, as such, many politicians are involved in it.

The second reason is that the imperial world powers find narcotics an effective way toward corrupting other countries and toward culturally invading and dominating them.


We hope that soon we live in a world where both states and nations feel more responsible regrading threats endangering humanity specifically the drug abuse and illicit trafficking.


[1] For more information, refer to: Istiftā’āti Jadīd by: Makarem Shirazi, N. Compiled and edited by: Aliannejad, Abulqāsim. Publisher: Madrasah al-Imam Ali ibn Abitalib (‘a). Second ed., Qom, 1427. Vol. 2, question No. 748.

[2] For more information, refer to: Az Tu Su’āl Mikunand: Majmū’i-yi Su’ālāti Qur’ani az Payambar-i Akram (s), by: Makarem Shirazi, N. Compiled and edited by: Aliannejad, A. Publisher: Madrasah al-Imam Ali ibn Abitalib (‘a). Qom, 1387 Sh., pp. 175-176.  

[3] For more information, refer to the Istiftā’āt-i Jadīd, vol. 3, p. 174.

[4] For example, refer to: Kulaynī, Muhammad ibn Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq. Al-Kāfī. Revised by: Ghaffārī, Ali Akbar & Ākhundi, Muhammad. Publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, 4th edition, Tehran, 1407. Vol. 5, p. 294, hadith No. 8.

[5] Al-Fiqh al-Mansūb ilā al-Imam al-Rida (‘a). Researched/revised by: The Āl al-Bayt (‘a) Institute. Publisher: The Publication of Ālulbayt (‘a) Institute. First ed., Mashhad, 1406 Ah., p. 250.

[6] For more information, refer to Istiftā’āti Jadīd, ibid, vol. 3, p. 174.

[7] For more information, refer to: Makarem Shirazi, N. Payām-i Qur’an. Publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah. 9th ed., Tehran, 1386 Sh., vol. 5, p., 331.