Shisha shut-down: elders object to pipe puffing

Shisha smoking may detract from family life, elders fear Pic: Sindhoor

MUSLIM elders in Scotland have launched a campaign against smoking shisha, flavoured tobacco puffed through hookahs, fearing improper socialising between men and women.

Mosque leaders have launched an Anti-Shisha Cafe Glasgow campaign and declared smoking the herb haram, or forbidden under Islam.

They have lodged a formal complaint with Glasgow council, as the practice of smoking indoors is in violation of the 2006 smoking ban.

Several underground shisha bars were raided in Glasgow last week.

The elders say the practice of smoking through the large water pipe, which is often shared among a group of friends, means people are neglecting their families.

A mosque elder, who declined to be named, said such cafes were spreading ‘fitna’, an Arabic term for discord among Muslims, and were encouraging an unwelcome pub-like culture.

He said: “A ‘quick one’ with the boys soon turns in to four or five and before you know it you have spent two or three hours of your time smoking. Family time and responsibility is being neglected.”

Senior figures in Glasgow’s Muslim community were also concerned over men and women socialising in the cafes, expressing ‘disquiet.’

They say interaction between unmarried males and females is to be avoided for young Muslims.

Glasgow has seven shisha bars, and Edinburgh has two.

They are popular among students but cater to a wide variety of people, including influential member of the Asian business community.

Shisha bars in England and Wales usually avoid fines by placing the hookahs in covered outdoor areas.

But the Scottish cafes do not appear to have gone to that length.

Two were raided last week and issued with fines, along with 10 of their customers.

A Glasgow council spokesman said: “While the smoking ban is genrally very well observed, this appears to be a persistent issue.

Sources said anti-shisha campaigners had met with police, the council and other officials to discuss their tactics against the bars.

But some young Muslims say the bars are unfairly being targeted by the elders.

Rzwan Ahmad, 28, from Glasgow, said: “What have the mosques or Islamic groups done to attract young people?

“All they want you to do is come and pray.

“You have a big hall at Central Mosque paid for by the community yet young people are not allowed to play football or any other sports there.

“Is it any surprise they prefer to spend time at shisha cafes?”