Shisha: cultural habit or poisonous trend?
No matter if you call it shisha, hooka or argila, it will still make your health go up in smoke. (Getty photo).
With the growth of Dubai and the spike in social life here there has been a growth in the number of people who use shisha casually, without a thought about their health. Shisha was never a widely-known thing around here, nor was its use as prolific as it is these days. It was much more popular in other countries nearby and it was discovered as we travelled around.
I find it so much more widely used these days and across a wide range of society - men, women, middle aged and old. Historically, it is thought that the start of this habit (or use of tobacco) began in Persia in the early to mid-1500’s. Then it was introduced to India late that century. While I’m not sure when exactly it came to Arabia it did become part of the culture in places like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and so on - I suppose places where tourism was part of the culture.
It was also known in Turkey at an early stage, but came to the Gulf much later. Some call it shisha, some call it argila, or hooka, the name doesn’t matter. But it has a story behind it everywhere you go. Originally the intent was to purify the smoke or filter it and cool it down before it enters your lungs and begins its damage.
If they knew then how bad smoking is, like we do now, they might not have started it!
We are a stubborn species, we consider feeling good over the real harm it might inflict. Smoking shisha or not in the GCC, or anywhere else for all I care, is not a matter of culture or religion, but an individual act and preference. The religious view on this is that life and health is a trust from Allah/God to do good with it - so harming it will be simply Haram, prohibited. Some scholars, when it became clear in the 1980s that smoking is bad for you, said it is Makrooh, a lesser level than prohibited.
From a cultural point of view, in some areas it’s looked at as very uncivilised, harmful, smelly, a waste of time and money and definitely not lady-like to smoke it. Of course people began to smoke it on a regular basis, invited their friends and from there the demand rose. Now it’s almost everywhere. As usual, evil spreads fast as it has many to promote it and sell it.
Slow suicide I call it! No offence, I, like anyone, struggle not to do what feels good yet harms my body and displeases the Lord.
By Nasif Kayed