“A” is a 33-year-old woman in Florida living with lupus. In between her hectic life as a social worker and a newlywed, she has had to battle debilitating chronic pain. Given Florida’s restrictive rules surrounding opioid medication, “A” suffered through her crippling pain for years before she came across a potential solution to her day-to-day misery.
“I have lupus, which is an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue and creates chronic inflammation,” she shares, hours after being released from another hospital visit. “I use CBD oil as a way of lowering the chronic inflammation that plagues my body and can cause a myriad of symptoms ranging from pain to organ damage, or organ failure.”
Due to the crackdown on opioid medications, many chronic pain patients are turning to medical marijuana to treat chronic pain because it’s now easier to obtain. So, is that a bad thing?
As a faith community-at-large, today’s generation of young Muslims is far more open to having tough conversations over previously deeming something “haram,” sweeping it under the rug, and accepting a limited scope of discussion. That’s why our editors and readers alike are eager to crack open the conversation on a topic that is as simultaneously taboo as it is prevalent in the Muslim community: weed.
This isn’t about taking sides or doing fatwas: being that more and more of our youth are indulging in weed (yes, masjid aunties, whether you like it or not, this is fact), we can’t not talk about it. Since you know we suck at burying our heads in the sand about contentious topics, we decided to turn to our readers’ experiences with weed, free of shame or judgment.
The Great Debate: Consumption vs. Intention
Weed can be used both recreationally and medicinally, and comes in many forms, ranging from edibles to topical products. We at Muslim Girl asked to hear your weed stories and we learned that the majority of our smoking readers use it for anxiety, depression, and to help them focus on certain tasks. That doesn’t quite sound like the gateway to debauchery promoted by those against the consumption of marijuana. So, let’s break it down.
The discussion around the use of weed in the Muslim community has focused on consumption and intention. On one side, our readers argued that the method of consumption can be harmful (i.e. smoking it), so they made the argument that anything which has the potential to harm you is forbidden. But, does that argument apply if you ingest it in its edible form, use it topically, or another non-combustible way?
Some of our readers also felt that the amount of consumption can alter your state of mind, which may deem your prayer invalid. However, some of our readers ingest marijuana products like cannabidiol (CBD) oil. CBD oil carries many health benefits without making its user feel the stoned effect. So, if it’s utilized to tackle the seemingly indomitable shadow of health issues like chronic pain or depression, then should marijuana be viewed by Islam through the same lens as medicine?
“Chronic usage of opioid medications can damage your liver, but research suggests CBD oil is much less harmful to your body. CBD oil alone (with the THC removed) also eliminates the psychoactive properties that would cause intoxication as well, leaving behind medicinal benefits such as pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties without feeling ‘high’ or intoxicated.” – MuslimGirl.com Reader.
Some scholars (we use the term loosely here, because very few have actually discussed this phenomenon) have stated that weed is forbidden in Islam unless for medical reasons, something we will delve into briefly to specifically tackle some of the uninformed and illogical interpretations demonizing weed.
“Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opium, etc. are all unlawful (haram) due to the various harms connected with them,” said Sheikh Muhammad bin Adam al-Kawthari. He cited the tradition from Sahih Muslim which states that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Every intoxicant is prohibited.”
“[Marijuana] should be permissible only if that is the only option in a medical condition prescribed by medical experts,” said Imam Mohammad Elahi, according to an article on Arab American News.
CAIR Oklahoma discussed the concept that “necessity negates prohibition.” This means that an “intoxicant or otherwise prohibited substance can be used for medical reasons with the following condition, which stem from Quranic text: A pious Muslim physician must prescribe the medication or a qualified physician in consultation with a local Imam or scholar.”
The aforementioned analyses brings us to the argument of intention behind the consumption. Many of our readers felt it could be argued that the consumption of weed does, in fact, boil down to the intention behind consumption, and whether the intention is for relief rather than abuse. As stated earlier, this brings us back to the use of marijuana to stave off the specter of some mental and physical health issues, thus embodying the ultimate goal of protecting the health of the bodies bestowed upon us by the Almighty.
As a result of this, some of our readers strongly felt that when it comes to using weed for mental, emotional, and physical relief, the argument can be made that moderation is key and that, just like anything else, too much of anything can be harmful. Some found that the fact that marijuana hasn’t been specifically prohibited in the Qur’an further highlights the importance that we need to have an open discussion on the topic.
So, what did the #MuslimGirlArmy have to say?
Here we go. Our 420-friendly readers touched upon a myriad of emotions and viewpoints, further impressing upon the diversity of opinions among young Muslims and the need to discuss them in an inclusive and non-judgmental manner. We have created a list of some of the most popular discussion points that arose in your reactions:
Depression and Anxiety Management
The majority of readers that responded said that they use marijuana to relieve anxiety and depression. In this day and age, the frenetic pace of life has guaranteed that rates of anxiety and depression remain at an all-time high. Although there are medications targeted specifically for both, weed can offer significant relief, minus many of the negative side effects associated with standard medicines.
“Although, I’m not proud of consuming recreational cannabis, I’m not ashamed of it either. I’ve dealt with anxiety and ADHD almost my whole life and I prefer holistic styles of healing and relaxation. My cannabis consumption does NOT have a negative effect on how I practice my faith…I consume THC and CBD on a regular basis to enhance my mood, ease pain, or relax my spirit. Marijuana has never lead me to making a bad decision against what my lord asks of me, nor have I felt the urge to commit a sin or crime as a reaction to my consumption. I support the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana and hope the stigma around a natural source of comfort to many can decline by the next generation.” -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
“I’ve been suicidal many times in my life, and marijuana has given me more patience and acceptance for myself than anything else.” – MuslimGirl.com Reader.
“I have dealt with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I have always rejected the use of weed and did not want to smoke it because, due to my understanding, it is haram. I also did not want to for fear of getting mentally addicted (I know you can not get physically addicted) or for fear of it affecting my lungs, or because it was overall a depressant. My anxiety, however, became extremely intolerable right before I was about to make a big life change and say goodbye to most of the people I knew. “ -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
As Muslims, we are expected to preserve our lives for they are a gift bestowed upon us from the Almighty. To summarize the general consensus of this argument, our anonymous whistle-blowers felt that if weed helps alleviate suicidal tendencies and other negative emotions, as indicated by the testimonials above, then how can we rally against it with the same arguments as those used against alcohol?
Many of our readers use marijuana to tackle pain management. The fear of dependency still came up, with some readers feeling conscience of the unintended growing role of marijuana in their lives. There isn’t a scale to determine whether your use is excessive and borders on abuse because it’s different for everybody, so it’s our responsibility to understand our own personal needs, intents, and limits.
“Quran emphasizes that any addiction whatsoever is basically wrong. Anything in excess. Despite knowing this, I still smoke. I know that smoking up everyday has not just caused me problems like distancing myself from my family in order to be able to just smoke in peace all day, but it’s also caused me to slowly distance myself from deen and my spiritual journey. I can feel it. My only thought is where I’m going to get my next fix.” -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
“…I get high before doing all kinds of study, including the Qur’an because I can focus much better and I retain information a lot faster.” – MuslimGirl.com Reader.
“A lot of the times I smoke it recreationally, but I also use it to calm my menstrual cramps and soreness (I am a very active athlete). Besides that, I get high before doing all kinds of study, including the Qur’an because I can focus much better and I retain information a lot faster.” -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
An Alternative to Western Medicine
A lot of Western medicine has been documented as detrimental to our organs, kind of like a brutal catch-22 situation, whereas weed is said to have minimal side-effects. Since, as Muslims, we are expected to avoid factors that may harm the bodies we have been blessed with, it almost seems as though we need to re-evaluate whether weed might be the better treatment option for a number of illnesses. That is why, this particular testimonial blew us away:
“We have autistic twin boys that were on a few medications to ease their anxiety. One of the meds gave one of our boys a twitch. Our doctor said it may be permanent. So we set out to find alternatives. Through parent blogs and articles we found that marijuana may help. So we administered it to our son and the twitching stopped immediately.” – MuslimGirl.com Reader.
Marijuana as a Spiritual Practice
And, of course, it can’t be dismissed that in many cultures, marijuana is used an holistic herb for worship. With intentional use for meditation and prayer, it’s no surprise that some have found weed as a transformative tool for easing or heightening their spiritual connection.
“I’m most familiar with the Sufi tradition of Islam. Although intoxicants of any kind aren’t encouraged, neither are they openly discouraged. I suppose it has been left up to the individual to make that decision. I have found that consuming weed, smoking or eating it, are a good way to clear my mind. One could almost describe it like wiping the slate clean of any stresses or worries, and putting things into perspective. All the silly, small things clear away, and I’m back on track with the things I need to focus on. I’ve found it incredibly helpful, and it has been such a positive experience for me and my partner. Quite similar to meditation, or you could say a cleanse of the mind!” – MuslimGirl.com Reader.
…after that trip, I have never felt closer to god in my life. Because of that experience, I learned what that relationship meant to me, and how THC could alter that for me.
“About 10 hours after I ingested weed, I woke up from the high and realized the damage, however there was a part of me that was so spiritually aware of my surroundings, it almost felt like a blessing in disguise. I felt like there was a part of me that needed this experience to really push me to an answer that I was searching for. This high basically scared me all the way back to “the right path” because I started reading the Quran, and praying every day. I believe that weed may bring you closer to your spiritual belief, however it may also hinder you with doubts. Any form of a drug in your system can really alter your reality which causes you to believe that you’re in a parallel universe, which is very spiritual, in a sense. So my tragedy was that my mom found out about all of the zinah that I was committing, but it was worthwhile because after that trip, I have never felt closer to god in my life. Because of that experience, I learned what that relationship meant to me, and how THC could alter that for me. I also began to have more faith in blessings in disguise because for many years I asked god to help me find Him in a way that I can remain engaged in Islam, and I found what I needed and it is here to stay.” -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
Can we talk about it? (Without shame.)
The problem with the current state of our religious community is that we are looking at things as black and white. We are quick to judge those who may indulge in weed without having an open discussion that could help inform responsible marijuana use. Many of our youth may hear that weed is haram without explanation, and suddenly feel ostracized or ashamed to explore the question further. One of our readers expressed, in no uncertain terms, that the Muslim community is a lot quicker to judge those who smoke weed than those who smoke cigarettes and hookah. So true.
Weed has miraculous benefits that we don’t hear about in our community because there is a seemingly insurmountable stigma surrounding the substance itself.
So this brings us full circle, back to the issue at hand: Why are we so quick to shame those who use marijuana when we, as a faith-based community, haven’t had a well-informed debate on it? We shame based on fear-mongering and this is unacceptable to healthy discourse and spirituality. This shame, in many cases, leads to guilt that can have an unnecessary impact on feelings of identity. One responder had this to say:
“I was so scared to try cannabis and when I first did I felt guilty, I felt as though I was doing something so wrong and that I was going to hell, but that changed as I got older and found out more about myself.” -MuslimGirl.com Reader.
Cool, thanks, now what?
Young Muslims should neither feel shamed nor damned when seeking open discussions . This is the problem borne of not having an open conversation. Weed has miraculous benefits that we don’t hear about in our community because there is a seemingly insurmountable stigma surrounding the substance itself. A lot of our fellow Muslims use it solely for health-related reasons, to preserve the vessel bestowed upon us by our Creator, and to ostracize them for how they choose to manage their pain and ills, is utterly unacceptable.
We are losing sight of what our ummah should be. We should not revert to shaming people for the choices they make. Instead, we should come together, put our judgements aside and have an open discussion. That’s what’s missing from this picture: a detailed, well-informed discussion based on facts, not fear-mongering about the unknown. And we won’t stop shouting it from the rooftops, until this injustice has been rectified. No more demonizing that which we do not understand. We must strive to discuss to further our understanding.