12 February, 2011

Is chewing qat Haram?

Is the chewing of 'qat' or 'khat' - haram? Many, if not - most, Muslim ulamas and scholars agree that the chewing of qat is bad for society; but, there has not been a consensus that says the chewing of the narcotic plant is 'haram'. With the Yemeni government now strongly coming out against the plant and trying to replace its cultivation with other meaningful and beneficial plants, many ulamas and leaders have been speaking out more strongly against the chewing of qat.

Muhammad Mahmood Al'Zoubairi, the Yemeni poet and revolutionary hero, once said:
The devil grew from the earth to consume the nutrients of other innocent plants. He made the Yemeni people lust after Him, and is fighting in their stomachs against valuable nutrients for the human body. Then He runs in their veins like Satan, and enters their pockets to steal their money. Satan can bring them in the morning as far as the mountain peaks but in the evening will not let them sleep, leaving them in the nightmare of their imaginations. The Yemeni people live half of their lives in His magic. He consumes their strength and heroism. He is our governor, this accursed tree.
Qat has its positive side: it gets people to socialize; many say that due to the chewing of qat - many people, especially the young, have not turned to other more harmful drugs; and, the macroeconomic way of the trade in qat, allows money to recirculate within Yemen, with most of the money exchanged in the qat trade moving into rural areas.

But, its negative side, completely outweighs whatever is good about cultivating or chewing qat. Studies have shown that, qat cultivation consumes 60% of water used for agriculture in Yemen; and the use of fertile land in the highlands of the country is increasingly being used for the cultivation of this plant. Fertile land that once provided Yemenis with abundant food. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of all new wells being dug for agriculture, are being used for the growing of qat. While at the same time, the country is becoming more and more dependent on food from outside and has to import more and more food from foreign lands. Due to expenses for qat being second to that of food, the chewing of the plant, too, has been blamed for making marriages and families weak and husbands and fathers irresponsible. As if all these are not enough: the chewing of the plant, has many adverse health effects.  Going back to the question: is the chewing of qat haram? Isn't qat an intoxicant? We are warned that intoxicants of any kind are an 'abomination of Satan':
They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder. Surah ~ Al Baqara - 2:219
O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Surah ~ Al'Maeda - 5:090
There can't be stronger warnings than the above. And those who do not heed the above, do they not agree with all what the medical and economic experts are saying? Do they not agree, that the chewing of qat is not only 'an abomination of Satan' but is socially and economically shortsighted and irresponsible?