Cigarettes, statistics, and Islam

It is no secret that an irrefutable link exists between lung cancer and cigarette smoking. Empirical studies supporting the link were published beginning 50 years ago. In 1964 the Surgeon General of the United States wrote a report about the dangers of cigarette smoking, and in 1965 Congress passed a law requiring every pack of cigarettes sold in the USA to have  a warning label on its side stating “Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health.” Then in 1984 Congress passed a new law requiring even more explicit warning labels, including “Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy” and “Smoking by pregnant women may result in fetal injury, premature birth, and low birth weight.”

Earlier this year the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an even more agressive campaign against smokers including new, bold warnings for cigarette packs. The FDA determined such a bold move was required to to bring public awareness to an issue that was causing far too many preventable deaths yearly.

How does the FDA justify such a bold move? Data. Evidence.

For example, the Centers for Disease control has stated unequivocally that smoking causes cancer. Not “may” cause cancer. Another report states that for all death caused by lung cancer, in 90% of men and 80% of women smoking was the culprit responsible for the cancer and death. The Surgeon General in 2004 released a report on the dangers of smoking. And yet another article has the audacity to claim “tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally.”

What does this have to do with Islam?

If the authorities require warning labels on cigarettes because of the irrefutable link between smoking and serious health consequences including death, the same authorities should require warning labels on the Qur’an, because there exists an irrefutable link between the Koran and Islamic terrorism and violence.

Not everybody who smokes cigarettes develops cancer. Likewise, not everyone who reads the Koran becomes radical or violent. Statistics show, however, a direct connection between those Muslims who are violent radicals and the Koran. Indeed, the radicals claim justification for their actions by citing verses from Islam’s holy book. Indeed, ninety-five percent or more of the terrorism committed in the last 20 years has been at the hands of radical Muslims, and one hundred percent of those used the Koran as justification. Statistics, those stubborn facts that demonstrate reality, though unpleasant to some, must be faced squarely and dealt with.

Dawah is the Islamic word for proselytism, or inviting others into the fold of Islam. In his 1992 book “The Dawah Program Towards Establishing The Kingdom of Allah,” Shamim Sidiqqi quotes the Koran. Noteworthy is the fact that, despite arguments from CAIR and its ilk, Mr. Sidiqqi does not attempt to contextualize the Koran and relegate its violent verses to a 7th century context, but believes all of the Koran is relevant for today. He quotes Sura 9:111 which says

Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight  in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise  that is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the  Qur’an. Who fulfilleth  His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the  supreme triumph.

Is Mr. Sidiqqi taking verses out of context, a claim made by Muslim apologists when confronted with violent verses in the Koran that call for slaying infidels and unbelievers? Not at all. In fact, while referencing Koran 61:9 and 9:33, he says

Dawah Ilallah is not an end in itself as many Muslim have  misconstrued. Dawah is the first step. It must be carried out  to its logical conclusion. It will end only when Allah’s Deen  becomes dominant on this earth in its totality and the  forces  of Kufr and Shirk (disbelievers and idolaters) are subservient  to it. This was the mission of Prophet Muhammad (S). He  and his companions did it in their lifetime. We are now to do  it as our obligation in our lifetime. The Qur’an has emphasized this mission of Rasulullah (S) in Chapters  – AlTauba, Al-Saf and Al-Fath: “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with Guidance (Al-Huda) and the religion of truth  (Deen Al-Haq), that He may make it the conqueror of all  religion however, much the idolaters may  be averse.”

Is Mr. Sidiqqi’s opinion his alone, not shared by the rest of the umma, or worldwide Muslim community? Not at all. On the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute, one can find dozens, if not hundreds, of articles and video clips of Muslim religious leaders around the world calling for Muslims to wage war against infidels. Their support for such calls comes from the fact that the Koran contains over 160 verses calling on Muslims to fight those who refuse to accept Islam.  And this study shows, among other aspects of jihad, that the Koran even teaches that participation in jihad is required of every able bodied Muslim as a condition for salvation or admission to paradise.

Can peaceful verses be found in the Koran? Absolutely. But taken in context, the peaceful verses were quoted by Muhammad only when he was weak politically and militarily, early in his career as Allah’s prophet while still in Mecca. After he moved to Medina, his revelations turned from peace to violence and the Muslim community became influential politically and militarily. See this study for the context of peace and warfare in the Koran.

If the federal government is going to require warning labels on cigarette packs warning of the health risks of smoking, they need to require a similar warning label on each and every Koran sold in the United States stating “Warning: Reading this book may lead to uncontrollable fits of violence and rage, up to and including death, against anyone who disbelieves its message.” Consistency requires it. The link is undeniable.

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