Sheesha is banned in the UK

Shout out to Adeel for this. Check this article out from BBC news on the new ban of sheesha in the UK. Ulema have passed fatwas declaring that sheesha is haram here. Those sheesha cafes on Steinway (Queens, NY) might want pay extra attention to this, since the US might follow along just for the heck of it.

Pipe dream

By Mukul Devichand
BBC Asian Network

The impending smoking ban in England could spell the end for cafes which practise the ancient habit of shisha.

“I know this is going to sound like a strange description,” said Kate as she inhaled deeply on her shisha pipe.

“But it’s almost the equivalent of being on your own and getting into a lovely fragrant bubble bath.”

She’s a devotee of shisha, the Arabic water-pipe in which fruit-scented tobacco is burnt using coal, passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a hose.

Shisha smoking venues first started appearing in England along the Edgware Road in the 70s, largely fuelled by the Gulf Arab expat community.

Double apple tobacco

The last five to 10 years have seen a rapid growth in the number of cafes across the country, particularly in Manchester and Birmingham. And they are increasingly attracting people from all different backgrounds.

But the party is almost over. On 1 July, Shisha will be included in the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces in England.

Kate, who started smoking shisha as a student in her 20s, described how she has become a regular at Markaz, an upmarket shisha lounge in Bradford serving a mind-boggling array of scented tobaccos: water melon, lime lemon, aniseed and double apple.

The lounge plays host to a huge variety of smokers reclining on the hand-carved Moroccan chairs, from veiled Muslim teenagers to a middle aged white couple.

It seems shisha is crossing the historic racial divide in the town between Asians, who often don’t drink for faith reasons, and whites.

“For myself, I know I’ll lose a place that I can go out with my Asian friends who I can’t go out to the pub with,” Kate said of the impending ban.

Shisha cafes, in which pipes can be shared between friends, are seen as an alternative to the pub for a social night out.

Inside the lounge-like cafes, sweet fragrant smoke fills the air and a fusion of Arabic, Asian and hip-hop music beats in the background. Part of the attraction of shisha is that smoking through a pipe makes the tobacco last longer, and that passing the pipe is a communal activity.

Exemption fight

There are now an estimated 600 cafes, lounges and nightclubs across the UK and even dedicated British music acts and DJ collectives with names such as Shisha Sound System. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people come to Edgware Road to smoke shisha every week.

But there is no exemption for shisha in the Health Act 2006, which bans smoking in enclosed spaces. When it comes into force next week, cafes and lounges across England will face closure.

That’s led to a last-ditch legal battle to exempt shisha from the ban, being waged from an office above Shishawi, one of the country’s biggest shisha lounges in London’s Edgware Road.

With neon strip lights, a 24-hour license and a vast cinema screen playing Lebanese pop videos, Shishawi is the mother-ship of shisha cafes. There I met the charismatic leader of the campaign, Ibrahim Nour.

Nour, a former lawyer, bypassed the fruity shisha flavours and ordered a stronger, traditional pipe – one with less scent and more tobacco.

“Of course I have a bigger moustache, so to maintain it you have to smoke the tougher one,” he joked.

“If you look at the impact of taking the shisha out of this culture, you’re talking about disrupting and destroying the whole pattern of community activity.”

He believes the government didn’t consult adequately with the shisha-smoking community, but ministers say they had time to respond as part of the national consultation. And the decision is based on advice from the World Health Organisation, which insists shisha can be as damaging as other forms of smoking.

Liberal face

Despite being a recent addition to British culture, shisha has a long history. Many believe that it originated in India (known there as “hookah”) about a thousand years ago, when more often the shisha pipe was used to smoke opium rather than tobacco.

It is only over the last few hundred years that shisha has become strongly associated with the Arab and Muslim world, which mainly uses flavoured tobacco and is usually smoked by men with a cup of tea.

In the West, that culture has morphed into a liberal face of a Muslim youth culture. Shisha smokers range from groups of teenagers dressed to go dancing, to women wearing the full veil.

The government’s argument that it cannot allow a minority group to damage its health while the majority remains protected, has some Muslim support.

Dr Azzam Tamimi, an Islamist campaigner said, on a recent visit to Shishawi cafe: “I am one of those who believe it is forbidden in Islam to smoke, because it is forbidden to harm yourself. Maybe this will make young people think of something better to do.”

With the ban in force from next week, the current wrangle may have come too late.

Eighteen British shisha cafes have recently closed and 22 more have handed in notices to their landlords.


11 Replies to “Sheesha is banned in the UK”

  1. I don’t smoke but I think it should be exempt. It’s not really a public nuisance like cigarette smoking is. One can easily choose not to go to a hookah cafe.

  2. i think it shud b banned, cos it might get those kids/middle ages into their homes to do that stuff, or quit it altogether!

    its as harmful as normal smoking, or even worse? plus, im sure some restaurants probably also serve it, so think bout the ppl who serve, as well as everyone else!

  3. Do you consider yourself
    to be a good person?

    Almost everyone thinks they are a good person…

    But the question you should be asking is,

    “Am I good enough
    to go to Heaven?”


    The way to find out is to ask
    yourself if you have obeyed the
    Ten Commandments.

    Most people say, “Well, I’ve broken one or two, but nothing too serious, like murder, etc.”

    So let’s go through them and see how you do…

    1. You shall have no other gods before me.

    Have you always put God first in your life? Jesus said to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength– so much, that your love for your parents, brothers and sisters, friends, and even your own life is like hatred compared to your love and devotion for God, (Luke 14:26). Have you ever failed to put Him first in your life?

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    2. You shall not make for yourself any idol.

    Who is God to you? Is he only a god of love and mercy who would never judge anyone and never cast anyone into Hell? If that’s your god, then you’re right. Your god couldn’t cast anyone into Hell because he doesn’t exist. He’s a figment of your imagination. You’ve created a god in your own mind that you’re more comfortable with. You may call it your “personal belief,” but God calls it idolatry. The Bible warns that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, (Ephesians 5:5).

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    3. You shall not take the name of God in vain.

    Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? If you have, you’ve taken the holy name of God– who gave you your life, your family, and everything precious to you– and used it as a filthy, four-letter word. Hitler’s name wasn’t even despised enough to be used as a curse word! If you have used God’s holy name in that manner, you are a blasphemer and the Bible says “God will not hold him guiltless who takes the name of the Lord in vain,” (Exodus 20:7).

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

    God commands that we set aside one day in seven. Have you ever been guilty of breaking this Commandment?

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    5. Honor your father and your mother.

    Have you always honored your parents in a way that’s pleasing in the sight of God? Ask Him to remind you of the sins of your youth. You may have forgotten them, but God hasn’t.

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    6. You shall not murder.

    Jesus warned “Whoever is angry with his brother without cause, is in danger of judgment,” (Matthew 5:22) and the Bible says, “He who hates his brother is a murderer,” (1 John 3:15). God sees hatred in the heart to be as wicked as murder. We can violate His Law by attitude and intent.

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    7. You shall not commit adultery.

    Jesus warned, “You have heard…’You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” (Matthew 5:28). Have you ever looked at another person with lust? The Bible says that adulterers and fornicators (those who have had sex before marriage) will not enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9).

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    8. You shall not steal.

    Have you ever stolen anything (even if it was something small)? The value of the thing stolen doesn’t matter; petty theft is still theft. Have you ever taken anything that belonged to someone else (from the office, school, parents, etc.)? If you have, that makes you a thief.

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    9. You shall not lie.

    Have you ever told a lie? Then you are a liar. How many murders do you have to commit to be a murderer? Just one. If you have told even one lie, that makes you a liar. The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). You may not think deceitfulness is a serious sin, but God does.

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    10. You shall not covet.

    This means we should never desire anything that belongs to another person. Not their house, nor their car, nor their money, nor their wife, nor their lifestyle, nor anything that belongs to our neighbor. Have you ever broken this commandment?

    GUILTY – Yes, I have broken this commandment at least once.

    INNOCENT – No, I have NEVER broken this commandment in my life.

    Who of us can say we are not guilty of breaking these Commandments?

    This is what the Bible means when it says, “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

    Can you see your predicament? You are guilty of sinning against God Himself, and, because you have a conscience, (con-with, science-knowledge) you have sinned “with knowledge.”

    Isn’t it true that every time you lied, stole, or lusted, etc., you knew it was wrong?

    Does the fact that you have sinned against God scare you? It should.

    You have actually angered
    Him by your sin.

    The Bible says His wrath abides on you (John 3:36), and that you are an “enemy of God in your mind through wicked works,” (Colossians 1:21).

    Perhaps you think God is good and because of His goodness He will overlook your sins?

    But if you knew of a human judge who turned a blind eye to the crimes of a guilty rapist… would you describe him as a “good” judge?

    No. That would be a corrupt judge.

    God could never be a corrupt judge.

    He will punish all the rapists, murderers, and thieves… But He won’t stop there. He will also punish all liars, the lustful, adulterers, idolaters, and blasphemers, (Revelation 21:8).

    The place of eternal
    punishment is Hell.

    If you’ve decided to reject the gift of forgiveness and you die in your sins, there is no hope for you. There is no purgatory. The wrath of God abides on you and you will spend eternity in Hell. Please take the time to read what the Bible says Hell is like.

    The Bible Describes Hell

    There are three words translated “Hell” in Scripture:

    Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; and James 3:6)

    Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27)

    Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)

    There are those who accept that Hell is a place of punishment, but believe that the punishment is to be annihilated—to cease conscious existence. They can’t conceive that the punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal. If they are correct, then a man like Adolph Hitler, who was responsible for the deaths of millions, is being “punished” merely with eternal sleep. His fate is simply to return to the non-existent state he was in before he was born, where he doesn’t even know that he is being punished.

    However, Scripture paints a different story. The rich man who found himself in Hell (Luke 16:19-31) was conscious. He was able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse. He wasn’t asleep in the grave; he was in a place of “torment.” If Hell is a place of knowing nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go at death, Jesus’ statements about Hell make no sense. He said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, it would be better to remove it than to “go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).

    The Bible refers to the fate of the unsaved with such fearful words as the following:

    •“Shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)

    •“Everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46)

    •“Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51)

    •“Fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)

    •“Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Romans 2:8,9)

    •“Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

    •“Eternal fire…the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 7,13)

    Revelation 14:10,11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: “He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night.”

    God does not want you to perish. He is rich in mercy and compassion, and has provided a way for you to be forgiven. He has invited you to come to Him for a full pardon and receive the free gift of Eternal Life. You cannot earn it, and you do not deserve it, but God is offering it to you as proof of His love for you.

    Imagine you are standing in front of a judge, guilty of multiple serious crimes. All the evidence has been presented and there is no doubt about your guilt. Your apologies and good works cannot erase your crimes; therefore you must be punished. The fine for your crime is $250,000 or imprisonment, but you don’t have two pennies to rub together. The judge is about to pass sentence when someone you don’t even know steps in and pays your fine for you! The court accepts the money and declares that you are free to go. The law has been satisfied, your debt has been paid in full, and the stranger’s sacrifice was a demonstration of his love for you. That’s what God did for you 2000 years ago.

    The Bible says that the God of the Universe became a man (Jesus Christ), and suffered and died on the cross for your sins and mine so that we could be set free. It’s as simple as this—we broke the Law, and Jesus paid our fine.

    “God demonstrated His own love for us in that while
    we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

    “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,
    being made a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13)

    Do you see God’s great love for you? Do you see your need for His forgiveness? Then do what He commands and “Repent…that your sins may be wiped out and times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19) You must turn away from sin and turn to God. Desire to have NOTHING to do with sin, and surrender your life to the One who can save you. Jesus died to set you free, and then he rose from death to be your Lord. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If you will confess and forsake your sins (repent) and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, God will forgive you and you’ll pass from death to life.

    What does it mean to “put your faith in Jesus Christ?” It means to personally trust in Jesus the same way you’d trust in a parachute if you had to jump 25,000 feet out of an airplane. You wouldn’t just “believe” in the parachute; you would put it on! In the same way, the Bible says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” and you will be saved. There are millions of people who “believe” Jesus exists . . . but they have not put on the Savior—there’s a BIG difference. And the difference will be obvious when you “jump” through the door of death.

    Today, with all your heart—turn away from sin, and surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Please don’t put it off till later. You may die today and then it will be too late. You may not yet have all the answers to your questions, but better to put on the parachute first and then ask questions, then to pass through the door unprepared, grasping for the parachute when it’s too late.

    You can pray something like this —

    “Dear God, today I turn from all my sins (name them), and I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Please forgive me, and grant me your gift of everlasting life. Amen.”

    There is nothing magic about these words—it is the attitude of your heart that God cares about.

    God will transform you from the inside out. You will think and feel differently as you learn to trust and obey Him. God will give you new strength to live right and love Him above all else. Read your Bible daily and obey His Word. You can trust God—He loves you and will always be faithful.


  4. i actualy live in bradford (the place mentioned in the article) and its tru, shisha and hookah (i dont no the difference) hav become common practice, tho iv neva tried nything like it myself, im glad its gona be banned, because more and more people get involved for the sake of peer pressure etc

  5. I totally overlooked shisha when the smoking ban came into place! Personally I’m taking this as good news, but Edgware Road/ Bayswater won’t be the same again!!

  6. shame to those who deny it’s addictive and intoxicating cos they r addicted to the intoxication.

    end of the day it’s still harming the body that God has given you

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