The Muslims of today , especially the youth , are facing many problems and temptations that were not available previously. This is particularly problematic for us as a minority Muslim population in this country. The youth are easily distracted by activities such as addiction to TV, video games , gambling , dance parties , escort agencies and addiction to drugs. This brief article will explore the harmful effects of drugs on our youth , the family , the society and most important , on our Iman.
Definition of drugs
Allah says in the Quran:" O you who believe ! Intoxicants and gambling , (dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. Avoid (such abominations) that you may prosper" (5:90).
The Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) said : " Every intoxicant is Khamr, and every Khamr is Haram (forbidden)."
The definition of the word intoxicate is to produce a state ranging from euphoria to stupor ; to stimulate , to excite ; to poison
We can draw the following conclusions from the above :
- an intoxicant is any substance which may be a liquid , solid or gas , that is voluntarily taken into the body by swallowing , injection , inhaling or ingesting , which produces an effect on the brain resulting in changing an individual's mood.
- examples of intoxicants (Khamr) are alcohol, wine, beer, spirits, homemade alcoholic brews, all forms of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, dagga etc
- all intoxicants are totally forbidden in Islam irrespective of the quantity that is used. Even one drop of alcohol is Haram (forbidden). Similarly , even one puff of dagga is Haram ; it is not the quantity that is important - the substance itself is Haram.
- Anyone who associates in any way with any aspect of the intoxicants (whether alcohol or drugs) such as the person who uses it , or sells it, or makes it or delivers it is a partner with Shaytan , since all intoxicants are the handiwork of Shaytan.
Young people are very vulnerable to the influences of society , their friends , TV, adults and those that appear to be fashionable in the music and fashion industries. Hence , a youngster may find that all his or her friends have experimented with drugs and now he is feeling left out because everyone else appears to be having a good time. Friends tease him or her for being too "chicken" to try this type of intoxicant.
This unsuspecting youth then decides to "experiment" only once "just to try it out". Furthermore, if s/he does not have money to buy the drugs, someone may even offer it to him/her for free.
What this young person does not realise is that the first weakness to please his friends is the biggest mistake that he can make. The strategy of the drug pushers is to get as many customers as possible. Some drug dealers are so ruthless that they give out free sweets containing drugs to school children. The trick is to give free drugs to unsuspecting people. Once a person becomes addicted ("hooked" ) he is now a customer for life. The addicted person will then beg, borrow, steal, prostitute themselves, just to make sure that they have money to buy drugs for their next fix. It is a vicious cycle of crime, prostitution and family, social and community breakdown . It is for this reason that Khamr is known as the ‘mother of all evils" in Islam.
Types of Drugs
There are many types of drugs available on the market. The general effect of all drugs is very similar though they differ in their speed of action as well as the severity of the harm on the body. All drugs directly affect the brain, since this is the only way of causing mood changes. Some types of drugs are:
- Heroin : a highly addictive opiate; gives very high rush, followed by many hours of fogginess; the addict lives day to day for the next fix
- Marijuana : affects the parts of the brain that deal with emotions and memory
- Alcohol : impairs judgements, cuases memory lapses and blackouts
- Cocaine : whether in powder form or crack, it is a highly addictive stimulant. The addict loses interest in school, family, work etc
- Inhalants (glue ; petrol; hair spray ; paint thinners etc). These destroy the protective layers around the brain cells.
- Ecstasy : a powerful amphetamine that causes problems in concentration and makes it difficult for the user to know the difference between fantasy and reality.
- LSD : gives a distorted view of time and space and causes paranoia, confusion and panic attacks
- Steroids : used by body builders to gain muscles. It causes mood changes and permanently impairs learning and memory.
- Various "date rape prescription drugs ": cause short-term memory loss. These drugs are colorless, odorless and tasteless. Their connection to date rape is that rapists have put these drugs in girls' drinks at parties to make them semi- or unconscious and then raped them.
The harmful physical effects of drugs
Drugs have very damaging effects on an individual's mind and body.
The most harmful effect of drugs is on the brain. The brain is a gift from Allah and the most delicate and powerful computer. It it is an amazing organ. It must be protected and cherished and its full potential utilized.
When a person introduces a drug into the body (either by nose , mouth or vein ) the drug enters the blood stream and goes directly to the brain, crosses the blood –brain barrier (BBB) and occupies various receptor sites in the brain. This leads to an alteration in the chemical and electrical neuronal functioning of the brain which also leads to its eventual organic damage. These changes in the brain are what cause the state of ‘addiction’- eventually, the body automatically starts craving the damaging drug, leading to a vicious cycle of abuse and further damage.
Although the main effect of drugs is on the brain, other body organs that are damaged include the following :
- damaged nasal septum (through snorting the drugs)
- collapsed & clotted veins
- kidney, liver and lung failure to various degrees
- damage to the brain
- infected needles causes Hepatitis Infection and HIV/AIDS
The danger of drugs is not just restricted to the user though. Some pregnant mothers take drugs. These enter the brain of their unborn babies. The babies then becomes addicted even before birth. When they are born, they show withdrawal symptoms and eventually develop various learning disabilities. This is a crime against innocent unborn children.
The social effects of drugs
Anti-social and embarrassing behavior are the non-physical effects of taking drugs. Some examples of these include:
- staying away from home
- stealing and crime
- job loss
- withdrawal from the community
- embarrassing behaviour in public
- deterioration in relationship with parents, spouse or children
The symptoms of drug abuse
Some of the symptoms that indicate whether a person in your family or a friend is addicted to drugs are the following:
- sudden mood changes ;
- unexplained weight and appetite loss
- no interest in school, work or life
- no interest in themselves: no longer caring about personal hygiene, clothing and dressing; always looking dishevelled
- frequent use of prescription medication
- depression and mood swings
The way forward and suggestions
If there is someone in your family or a close friend who you suspect has a problem with drugs, then you must assist them in any way possible. Here are some suggestions about how you can do that:
- Communicate. Don’t pretend that the problem will go away or that it cannot be happening in your own family. Parents and families must learn the art of healthy , open communication and discuss issues in an open, frank and friendly atmosphere. Even if things get heated in a discussion, it is better to talk now rather than wait until your loved one is dead
- Show sympathy. Even if it is to a stranger. The person who is addicted has a disease. S/he needs our help. There may have been a family problem that led the person to experiment. Or the person may have thought that it will be ‘fun’ just to try it out. No one deliberately says "I want to be a drug addict." What they don’t realise is that after the first taste of the drug, you are hooked. Instead of condemning them, offer counselling , moral support, send them for drug rehabilitation and offer words of encouragement
- Imams must speak out against this evil from the Mimbars and discuss the devastating effects of drugs on the individual, the family as well as on society .
- Muslim communities must provide alternative forms of recreation for our youth. These could be in the form of community centers, sports, youth camps etc. where the youth can socialise in an Islamic environment and are then not tempted to experiment out of boredom.
- The addicted youth should be encouraged to turn to Islam. There have been many examples of addicted Muslim youth, who have been rehabilitated by turning to Islam. Today they are speaking from the Mimbar about their experiences and are totally devoted to Islam. Allah accepts sincere repentance and an intention to give up the way of Shaytan and rather follow the Straight Path.
- Mothers have a very important role to play in the upbringing of their children. Mothers have to take charge and even go on marches against the drug dealers in a community . The whole community must work actively to rid society of drugs. Only a mother knows the pain and sorrow of seeing her beloved child being a slave to the evils of drugs. Every mother has hopes for her child that he/she will be healthy , get a job , get married, have children and lead a happy life. Drugs destroy the dreams of every mother.
- Make Dua for all the Muslim youth in our community and throughout the world. We have a responsibility to look after our youth and protect them from the dangers of society. Our youth are our future. Ameen.