Narcotics in Islam
By JAMES EMERY
Published: May 21, 2008
Religion and nationalism are the refuge of scoundrels, so it was no great
surprise to learn that Haji Baz Muhammad, the Afghan criminal mastermind who
has made millions of dollars from narcotics trafficking, said he was selling
heroin in order to wage a jihad against the United States.
The Taliban, who’ve earned over $1 billion in the narcotics trade under the
dubious guise of religious warriors, claim they are promoting drugs to
attack the West. I suppose the Taliban consider the fact that millions of
Muslims have become addicted to their drugs is collateral damage in their
The Koran bans the use and involvement with all intoxicants and
mind-altering substances in the second surah, verse 219 and the fifth surah,
verse 90. Wine and mind-altering substances are referred to as “khamr”
derived from the Arabic word “khamara”, which means to veil or conceal.
Muhammad said that every intoxicant is “khamr”, and that every khamr is
“haram” (the Arabic word for forbidden).
“Muhammad says that whatever alters the mind is khamr,” said Ammar Amonette,
the imam at a large mosque. “So there is no question that drugs are khamr.
There is a fatwa against alcohol and drugs. They are forbidden for the
welfare of the individual and the community.”
Within Islam, there are six essential fundamentals that must be defended.
The first is religion and the second is human life. The third fundamental is
the mind, which comes ahead of family, wealth, and honor. Anything that is a
threat to one of these six things must be dealt with immediately. The imam
told me, “How can we expect people to make proper decisions if their mind is
clouded? People who are on drugs are likely to commit crimes and violate
“A lot of people would deny the fact that the Taliban are involved,”
continued the imam, “especially people who support them. Within Islam, the
Taliban are an outlaw group in many ways. As perpetrators in the drug trade,
they are guilty of spreading corruption in society. They are responsible for
the misery that befalls every individual or family.”
The definition of khamr extends to anything that befogs or alters the mind.
There is no compromise on this issue. No distinction between a little or a
lot, as a single step in the wrong direction, such as one drink, would
encourage additional steps, potentially dooming the individual and their
From a historical perspective, Muslim scholars considered anyone who sells
alcohol, drugs, or other mind-altering substances to be far worse than the
person who uses them. “The general attitude,” said the imam, “is to be
lenient towards addicts and severe towards dealers, especially big dealers.”
Some Muslim scholars have said that anyone who sells khamr is considered to
be an agent of Satan.
Another imam I spoke to referred to drug addiction as a plague on society; a
disease that weakens the addict physically and morally and destroys
families, which are the foundation of Islamic culture. Virtually all Muslims
worldwide, except the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other reprehensible groups,
hold a deep loathing for anyone involved in the manufacture, distribution,
or consumption of drugs.
Perhaps this point should be reinforced in Afghanistan and Pakistan through
government sponsored public information programs that point out that opium
cultivation and drug trafficking are forbidden by the Koran and in direct
violation to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Seminars could be held in each community to provide information on the
impact of the drug trade that would include lectures, movies, photographs,
and testimonials from victims and their families about the devastation of
narcotics. These programs would be open to the public, with special
invitations and seating for imams, school teachers, and the press, who could
be encouraged to reinforce the message through mosques, schools, and the
Gatherings of this type would help people better understand the suffering
and misery caused by the drug trade, while soliciting their support in
discouraging family members and other Muslims from having anything to do
with it. If this were done in conjunction with the development of
self-sustaining alternative sources of income, it could discourage many
Afghans from growing opium poppy or working in the drug industry.
A number of sources have linked Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida directly with
the drug trade. One of the older reports I reviewed states that prior to the
defeat of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden served as a middleman for Afghan
opium traders, using his commissions to buy weapons and provide funding for
his training camps. There are numerous credible reports that some Taliban
groups, including top leaders, are directly involved in selling and
smuggling opiates, in addition to collecting taxes and protection money from
“Al-Qaida and the Taliban are terrorists,” said Ashraf Haidari, political
counselor at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. “They work
hand-in-hand so we really don’t differentiate between them. Narcotics are
one source of funding for al-Qaida.”
While al-Qaida has attempted to keep a low profile regarding their
involvement in the drug trade, they have without question, actively
supported the Taliban’s drug-related activities for many years. Al-Qaeda
operatives have also accompanied Taliban forces in protecting heroin
shipments and narcotic’s traffickers.
“The Taliban are doing what the Taliban are all about,” added Haidari. “The
drugs, the hostage taking, targeting civilians, and holding female Koreans
are totally against Islam.”
Some of the Taliban insurgent’s reportedly gang raped several of the Korean
women. Since their inception, the Taliban have committed an incalculable
number of offenses against Islam. They should be publicly ostracized as
loathsome criminals and heretics who have repeatedly defiled Islam and
willingly destroyed millions of Muslim families, engulfed in the horrific
degradation of drug addiction.
The Prophet Muhammad said that the primary emphasis of jihad was the
internal struggle to become a better human being, something that is lost on
charlatans like Haji Baz, bin Laden, and the Taliban. The jihad to defend
the faith was a different form of struggle, with strict requirements to
justify taking up arms.
This has been ignored by terrorists and drug traffickers who use Islam as a
ruse for their real objectives, power and wealth.
During the Hajj to Mecca there is a special line for anyone arriving from
Pakistan due to the amount of drugs that have been brought into the Sacred
Arabian Peninsula from that location.
While people arriving from other countries just have their luggage screened,
Saudi officials take passengers from Pakistan behind a curtain to do a body
search for Afghan drugs. Perhaps they are looking for Taliban jihad tools –
heroin and hashish – that got misdirected.
James Emery is an anthropologist and journalist who has reported on regional
conflicts and the drug trade for over 20 years, including five years
overseas. He’s made several trips into Afghanistan, Myanmar, and other
drug-producing and transit countries.