About the Author(s)

Watni Marpaung Email symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Muhammad A. Adly symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Rustam Rustam symbol
Faculty of Education, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Akmaluddin Syahputra symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Putra A. Siregar symbol
Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Syahrial Arif Hutagalung symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Muhammad S.A. Nasution symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Fitri Hayati symbol
Faculty of Islamic Economics and Business, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Rahmad Efendi symbol
Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia

Dhiauddin Tanjung symbol
Department of Ushuluddin, Faculty of Ushuluddin and Islamic Studies, Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia


Marpaung, W., Adly, M.A., Rustam, R., Syahputra, A., Siregar, P.A., Hutagalung, S.A., et al., 2022, ‘Worshippers smoking in mosques: Violation of fatwas of ulemas and governor regulation’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(1), a7975. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7975

Original Research

Worshippers smoking in mosques: Violation of fatwas of ulemas and governor regulation

Watni Marpaung, Muhammad A. Adly, Rustam Rustam, Akmaluddin Syahputra, Putra A. Siregar, Syahrial Arif Hutagalung, Muhammad S.A. Nasution, Fitri Hayati, Rahmad Efendi, Dhiauddin Tanjung

Received: 29 July 2022; Accepted: 26 Sept. 2022; Published: 20 Dec. 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has issued an illegitimate fatwa against smoking in mosques because it endangers the health of worshippers and interferes with the comfort of worshippers. This study aims to investigate smoking behaviour in mosques and violations of fatwas from ulama and governor regulations. This study follows a cross-sectional design conducted by interviewing 531 Muslims who have prayed in the mosque for the last 14 days and observed the compliance of the mosque in implementing a smoke-free policy in 315 mosques. Frequency distribution and cross-tabulation were carried out using JASP 16 software using cross-tabulation. The results of this study indicate that the implementation of the smoke-free policy for mosques in Medan has been violated many times (57.8%), especially the violation regarding smoking in mosques (32.1%); cigarette butts were still found in the yard of the mosque (44.1%). Violations of the policy of fatwa smoke-free areas occurred in public mosques (61%) and muhammadiyah mosques (46.5%). Smoking behaviour in mosques was seen in the last 2 weeks, namely smoking behaviour carried out by worshippers (57.6%), smoking behaviour carried out by mosque administrators (39.2%), smoking behaviour carried out by community leaders in mosques (19.4%) and smoking behaviour that ulemas carried out in mosques (14.3%). Worshippers must comply with the rules against smoking in mosques because it can endanger the health of other worshippers. Cigarette smoke in the mosque will make other worshippers uncomfortable to worship so that it can damage the solemnity of the congregation to worship in the mosque.

Contribution: This study is expected to explain smoking behaviour in mosques, violations of smoking behaviour in mosques that violate the ulama’s fatwa regarding smoking behaviour in mosques and the governor’s regulation on smoking behaviour in mosques.

Keywords: fatwa; mosque; mosque worshippers; smoking; ulemas.


The European community introduced smoking to Muslims in 1000 Hijri (Sulaiman 2013). European cigarette companies have increased the number of cigarette advertisements in various Muslim countries to introduce smoking to Muslims so that Muslims are addicted to smoking. In Muslim–majority countries, the percentage of smokers are as follows: Saudi Arabia (13%), Guinea (57.5%), Indonesia (34%), Tunisia (30.5%), Pakistan (15.2%) and Iran (10.5%) (Ghouri 2006).

The dangers of smoking do not reduce the number of smokers in Indonesia. This number increased until 2018, and Indonesia was estimated to have 61.4 million smokers. Smoking behaviour has been carried out by various age groups, namely children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. Men and women also carry out smoking behaviour (Nurhayati 2022).

The smoking frequency carried out by Muslims is still very high because of differences in the views of ulemas regarding the smoking law in Islam. Many ulemas in Indonesia declared that smoking is prohibited (haram), some declared neutrality (mubah), and others declared that it is discouraged (makruh) (Prasetiya 2020). The differences in methods of determining the law used by experts and differences in interpreting the texts caused Fuqaha to have different views regarding the law of smoking (Satria 2020). Ulemas have not found any evidence that forbids smoking, so they only carried out clerical agreements to solve this issue using various methods (Sabani 2022).

Prohibition of smoking in public facilities is one way to prevent people from becoming passive smokers. The previous study has linked to decreased smoking rates in the United States, reduced indoor smoking in the United Kingdom, lower second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure in New Zealand, lower cardiac mortality in Belgium and improved indoor air quality in 15 North American and European countries (Cox 2013; Lazuras 2012). The efforts to control smoking behaviour and protect nonsmokers from cigarette smoke have led to a smoke-free policy (Kostygina 2014). Only 14 of the 30 surveyed Muslim nations (Mauritania, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Senegal, Jordan, Syria, Mali, Bangladesh and Niger) have ratified the pact, with two more (Oman and Azerbaijan) holding accession status (Ghouri 2006).

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the Standing Committee on Scientific Research and Fatwas of Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Alu Shaikh, forbade all pilgrims to smoke in the glorified cities of Muslims, namely the cities of Makkah and Medina, let alone around the Grand Mosque and the Nabawi Mosque. According to the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, smoking can spread a smell that interferes with the solemnity of worship. The Government of Saudi Arabia strictly prohibits people from smoking in Makkah and Medina, especially in places of worship and surrounding areas, places of education, public transportation hubs and health, sports, culture, social and charity areas. Moreover, it is also prohibited in the offices of enterprises, factories, banks and others. Everyone who violates the smoking rules will be given a fine of 5000 riyals or around Rp18 million for violators. Pilgrims from Indonesia are often found smoking in the grand mosque area, so the residents of Mecca often reprimand Indonesian pilgrims who smoke. The people of Mecca do not like pilgrims who smoke in the Holy Land (Abdalla et al. 2012).

The implementation of smoke-free policy in various provinces in Indonesia is still poorly implemented. The facility compliance in implementing the smoke-free policy is still low, such as 17% in Jayapura in 2018, 78% in Bogor in 2011, 38% in Bengkulu and 30% in Medan in 2020 (Asyary 2018; Nasution 2022a; Wahyuti 2019; Yunarman 2020).

The mosque is one of the public facilities expected to be free from cigarette smoke. The mosque is expected to provide comfort and solemnity for worshippers in carrying out worship. Smoking in mosques will make worshippers uncomfortable to worship in mosques; cigarette smoke will cause smelly and not fresh air and even disturb health; cigarette butts and cigarette ash will interfere with the mosque’s beauty.

Saudi Arabia prohibits its people from smoking in public facilities; smoking is considered to pose a risk of disturbing health, making the air polluted with chemicals that interfere with health, disturbing the comfort of others around smokers and increasing the risk of fire (World Health Organization [WHO] 2007). The Mufti of Malaysia decided that smoking is prohibited because smoking is very dangerous for smokers and for other people around smokers; smoking is prohibited in public facilities (Yusof 2020).

Religion has a key position in society, and religion may play an essential role in an integrated set of tobacco control programs and policies. For instance, religious leaders and tobacco control activists can collaborate to design programs that capitalise on religious festivals and gatherings to educate the faithful about the dangers of smoking and urge smokers to stop (Yong 2009).

Ulemas in Indonesia have various views on smoking fatwas as Nahdatul Ulama (NU) has a fatwa discouraging (makruh) smoking behaviour, but if you smoke in public (such as mosques and restaurants), a fatwa prohibits (haram) it. Other Islamic organisations, such as Muhammadiyah, issued a fatwa prohibiting smoking wherever it is located, taking into account the dangers and benefits of smoking (Auton 2012). The third Ijtima of Islamic scholars’ Fatwa Commission throughout Indonesia issued a fatwa that ‘prohibited’ and ‘discouraged’ smoking, especially when the smoking behaviour is carried out in public places (mosques, restaurants, parks, etc.) and when the smoking behaviour is carried out by children or pregnant women (Nasution 2022a).

Indonesia seeks to improve air quality from cigarette smoke by implementing a smoke-free policy in various provinces and districts or cities. The Indonesian government issued the Regulation of the Minister of Health Number 70 of 2011 concerning guidelines for the implementation of nonsmoking areas, followed by regional regulations in various provinces and districts or cities regarding smoke-free areas.

Medan is a large city in the North Sumatra province, with a population of 15.6%. Medan has 1.6 million inhabitants, of whom 65% are Muslim. Medan currently has the slogan ‘Medan Berkah’ [Medan Blessing], hoping that Medan will become a multicultural, competitive, humanist, prosperous and religious city. One form of religiosity in Medan can be seen in several houses of worship in Medan, namely 1110 mosques to support Muslim worshippers.

The Medan city mayor has implemented a smoke-free policy since 2013 through Regional Regulation Number 3 of Medan regarding smoke-free areas. The smoke-free policy in Medan bans selling, advertising, promoting and smoking tobacco or tobacco products in various facilities, including health facilities, educational facilities, offices and places of worship.

The mosque is one of the facilities where the smoke-free policy should be implemented, but it is easy to find violations of the smoke-free policy in the mosque. The violations of the smoke-free policy in mosques can still be seen in various provinces in Indonesia, such as Bengkulu (66.6%) and Bogor (20%) (Handayani 2020; Yunarman 2020). Numerous obstacles and facilitators to providing a smoke-free home were found. These related to the diversity of religious institutions in terms of the relative sizes of congregations and mosque staff, location and infrastructure, the demographics and ethnic origin of congregants, the background of imams and other ulemas, languages used and the scope of activities held in the mosque (King 2017).

Fatwas of ulemas and governor on smoking in mosques

According to the experts, smoking behaviour is an act of nature. Based on Quran Surah Al-Baqarah verse 35, which reads ‘and do not approach this tree’, Quraish Shihab considers tobacco use dangerous and has deemed it to be a prohibited tree. According to him, the theme of the verses is how humans should avoid doing something bad as it would put them in danger. Tobacco was listed on the list of prohibited trees that Adam’s children and grandchildren should avoid in this life, as it is not only a personal concern but also a threat to the health of their neighbours. As with Satan’s trickery, smoking leads to detrimental conduct by causing individuals to spend money unfairly so that they no longer put things in their proper position (Anshar 2018).

A majority of participants who offered an opinion on the Islamic position of smoking stated that it is makruh [discouraged], while a minority stated that it is haram [prohibited]. Participants described how the message they heard about smoking depended on the sort of ulemas [Muslim cleric or educator] (Byron 2015). Religious leaders can explain to their congregations that the MUI fatwa and local legislation do not prohibit smoking in all indoor public areas but do prohibit smoking in indoor public spaces. Ulemas should aggressively enforce the smoke-free ban on mosque premises for religious and legal reasons, and doing so might enhance their credibility when speaking about smoking.

Mosques are places of worship that are glorified by religion. Shari’a recommends that mosques be mentioned as dhikr, shalawat, reciting the Qur’an, et cetera. However, religion also does not prohibit activities inside mosques, such as sleeping inside mosques, as long as they do not disturb people praying. In Indonesia, mosques function not only as places of worship but are also used for various activities and events such as recitations, weddings, bahtsul masail, et cetera. It is not uncommon to see some people smoking in the mosque during the event.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa that smoking in mosques is prohibited. According to the MUI, smoking in the mosque is a behaviour that insults the mosque even though Allah Almighty ordered Muslims to glorify the mosque as a place of worship. Cigarette smoke will damage the mosque’s honour as a place of worship that is supposed to provide comfort for worshippers to carry out worship in the mosque. Smoking behaviour in mosques will contaminate mosques. Cigarette butts and ash should be placed in their proper place (e.g. cigarette ashtrays) so as not to soil the floor of the mosque, thereby reducing the beauty of the mosque.

Fatwa is defined as ulemas’ decision against a scenario or Muslim difficulties. Decision-making by ulemas is based on their knowledge of Islam through citing the Qur’an and Sunnah, fatwas are to be issued by a fatwa commission in an Islamic organisation. The committee sits together and deliberates on the subject or differences of views among Muslims and eventually arrives at a fatwa utilising all Muslim people. Decision-making or fatwas carried out by the ulema fatwa commission are expected to solve the problem among people for Muslim excellent condition or relationships. For example, fatwa ulemas on smoking in Malaysia are expected to reduce the number of active smokers and the risk of passive smoking. Smoking has harmful effects on the body. Thus, a fatwa was made to prevent Muslims from smoking by ulemas in some Muslim countries. In Malaysia, discussions among competent Muslims and Mufti committee named Shura Council were conducted. Numerous religious experts and organisations in Middle Eastern and North African nations have lately proclaimed smoking to be prohibited by Islam (Ghouri 2006).

It is the responsibility of religious leaders to transform the prevailing notion that smoking is a sin among Muslims into the cessation of smoking among smokers. Publicly admired religious leaders may accomplish better outcomes through small-group contacts than in big mosque settings (Radwan 2003).

The Indonesian government has begun to follow the WHO to make smoke-free policy rules in some areas, including public facilities and mosques (Indonesia, 2009). To increase the effectiveness of these rules, local policies are set out in the regional regulations concerning the above (Nasution 2022a).

The smoking behaviour of worshippers in the mosque is a concern because this interferes with the health of other worshippers who want to pray in the mosque. Cigarette smoke in the mosque will make worshippers become second-hand and thirdhand smokers. Public awareness about the dangers of smoking is an important component of not smoking in the smoke-free policy (Hidayat 2015; Veruswat 2020).

Dangers of smoking behaviour in mosques

Cigarette chemicals, specifically tar and nicotine, will be converted into pollutants. The residues (nicotine, nitric acid) are carcinogenic chemicals that can cause lung cancer and are inhaled by the next passive smoker (Drehmer 2017). Smoking should be prohibited in public facilities. Smoking restrictions protect all families and children from exposure to second-hand and third-hand smoke. Medically vulnerable children must attend places free of all cigarette smoke exposure. In general, the development of smoke-free areas seeks to minimise morbidity and mortality rates, establishing a clean, healthy, safe and comfortable atmosphere capable of protecting the younger generation from abusing narcotics, psychotropics and addictive substances (Napirah 2021).

Smoking is dangerous for health as it triggers noncommunicable diseases, which cause an increase in disability and deaths. However, smoking behaviour is an activity carried out by many people in Indonesia (Nasution 2022; WHO 2019). Exposure to cigarette smoke causes health problems, such as causing low birth weight and premature birth in pregnant women (Andriani 2021; Nadhiroh 2020), increasing the risk of developing asthma in children (Tanaka 2017) and causing various periodontal diseases (Tsz Kin Ng 2015).

All ages are adversely affected by exposure to cigarette smoke. Many studies have demonstrated a link between cigarette smoke exposure and lung cancer (Hori 2016; Shikata 2017). Second-hand smoke exposure has various negative consequences on lung function and growth, nutrition and immunological function in children; it is becoming recognised as an essential disease severity modulator for children with chronic disorders like cystic fibrosis (CF) (Kopp 2016).

Messages promoting the dangers of smoking for health must be advocated and arranged with communicative and effective language, considering marketing strategy and particularly appropriate locations to install promotional media (Hidayah 2019; Nasution 2022).


Study design and administration

The study used a cross-sectional design to investigate smoking behaviour in the mosque. Researchers conducted mosque observations in 21 districts of Medan city. This study was conducted from March to April 2022 in Medan, North Sumatra province. This study conducted interviews using questionnaires about smoking frequency and smoking perceptions among mosque worshippers. Observations were made on mosques in Medan city regarding violations of ulama fatwas and local regulations on smoking behaviour in mosques.


Researchers made observations about the fatwa on the prohibition of smoking in mosques by Islamic organisations and the smoke-free policy about smoking in the mosque. The researchers observed the mosque as a facility included in the smoke-free policy using observation sheets with a Google Form. The researchers observed 315 mosques in Medan, including government institution mosques, mosques of Muhammadiyah organisations and public mosques. The researchers interviewed 531 mosque worshippers to examine smoking behaviour in mosques in the last 2 weeks.

Measures and data analysis

Observation of smoking behaviour in the mosque was carried out by observing the mosques from a smoke-free regulation policy from the Governor North Sumatera regulation about smoke-free policy regulation. It found that worshippers were smoking in mosques, found cigarette butts, and found smoke and ashtrays in the mosques (Governor North Sumatera Province 2012). The smoking behaviour of worshippers was examined by conducting interviews with mosque worshippers using open questions regarding the frequency of smoking and perceptions about smoking behaviour in mosques. The questionnaire in this study deals with information about the prohibition of smoking in mosques, mosque worshippers’ perception of a rule regarding the smoking ban in mosques, mosque worshippers’ perceptions of no smoking in mosques, worshippers’ perceptions of whether smoking in mosques must be reprimanded; pilgrims’ perceptions of cigarette smoke that endangers the health of worshippers in the mosque; mosque worshippers’ perception of fatwas that prohibit smoking in mosques.

The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test with a 95% confidence interval was used to conduct a normality test (Murti 2011). If p > 0.05, it indicates that the data are regularly distributed. The validity and reliability test of the questionnaire was conducted on 30 Muslim youths using questions about smoking behaviour and worshippers’ perceptions of smoking fatwas in mosques. The researcher ran a validity test using the corrected item-total correlation value from the r table, 0.361. Cronbach’s alpha is a way of measuring the reliability of an instrument based on a single measurement; if r count > r table or 0.8 is a significant value, then the instrument is deemed reliable (Murti 2011).

The researchers analysed the data using JASP version 16; data analysis was used to determine the frequency distribution of compliance of 315 mosques in implementing smoking ban policies and in Medan city and 531 mosque worshippers. The analysis used cross-tabulation of smoking behaviour in mosques.


This study aims to see the implementation of a smoke-free policy in mosques. The researchers have carried out interviews with worshippers of the mosques in Medan about their views on nonsmoking areas in mosques (N = 531). The researchers have also made observations in mosques about the implementation of nonsmoking areas (N = 315 mosques). The results of this study can be seen in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Results of Kolmogrov–Smirnov test.

The results of this study indicate that the results of the normality test using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test (Table 1) show that it has a p value > 0.05, which means a normal distribution.

This study’s results indicate (Table 2) that the validity test results with the corrected item-total correlation value show a value of r > 0.361, which means that the entire questionnaire instrument is declared valid. The results of this study indicate that the reliability test with the Cronbach’s alpha method value showed a value of r > 0.8, which means the question item is reliable.

TABLE 2: The results of validity and reliability test.

The results of this study indicate (Table 3) that worshippers in the mosques are aware of the prohibition of smoking in the mosques (82.7%), but the perception of worshippers in the mosque towards the fatwa in mosques is still not good in that many worshippers in the mosque allow smoking in the mosque (14%), do not dare to reprimand worshippers who smoke in the mosque (36%) or even consider smoking behaviour in the mosque permissible (34.7%).

TABLE 3: The perceptions of worshippers about the fatwa against smoking in mosques.

The results of this study indicate (Table 4) that smoking behaviour in the mosque is common in the last two weeks, namely smoking behaviour carried out by the worshippers of the mosque (57.6%), smoking behaviour carried out by mosque administrators (39.2%), smoking behaviour carried out by the community leaders in the mosque (19.4%) and smoking behaviour carried out by ulemas in the mosque (14.3%).

TABLE 4: Smoking behaviour in the mosques according to worshippers, mosque administrators and ulemas.

The results of this study indicate (Table 5) that there are still many mosques that do not comply with the smoke-free policy (57.8%). The most common violation was the absence of a nonsmoking sign in the mosque (34.2%), smoking in the mosque (32.1%) and cigarette butts still being found in the yard of the mosque (44.1%). The less common violations regarding the implementation of the smoke-free policy in the mosque are cigarette advertisements which can be seen around the mosque (5.7%) and ashtrays in the mosque’s yard (9.8%).

TABLE 5: The implementation of the fatwa prohibiting smoking in mosques.

Violations of the smoke-free policy occurred in mosques with a typology of public mosques (61%) and jamik mosques (55.8%). Violations of the policy of nonsmoking areas occurred in community mosques (58.3%), mosque organisations affiliated with NU (66.7%) and Muhammadiyah mosques (46.5%).


Every Muslim knows the mosque is their site of worship and honour to Allah SWT. The mosque has become an important gathering place for Muslims to engage inactivities such as education and war planning. At the same time, the mosque is where Muslims learn about life on Earth and the hereafter (Yusof 2020).

Islamic organisations (MUI, NU, Muhammadiyah) have agreed to give prohibited fatwas to smokers in mosques. The mosque is one of the holy places for Muslims that must be kept clean and beautiful. Mosques are one of the locations where smoking is prohibited; mosque worshippers have the right to breathe air free of cigarette smoke. A more effective strategy, such as a smoke-free policy, is needed to reduce cigarette smoke exposure (Hidayah 2019). Exposure to cigarette smoke in public facilities will reduce the risk of passive smokers (Kostygina 2014).

Religious leaders’ acts may play a significant role in the social and cultural denormalisation of smoking. Religious leaders who are smokers should set an example by quitting smoking in order to provide credibility to their message. Furthermore, they can assist in implementing a smoke-free policy within their place of worship (Yong 2009).

It is anticipated that the socialisation of smoke-free policy in the mosque will increase mosque worshippers’ level of understanding about prohibited smoking, resulting in a shift in behaviour in smoke-free areas. According to studies from different mosques, mosque worshippers lacked a proper understanding of smoke-free areas because of a lack of socialisation on the subject.

A study by Radwan (2003) showed the significance of religious leaders in altering the community’s knowledge. This study shows a correlation between higher exposure to antismoking messages from religious leaders and a large rise in fatwa-related smoking knowledge. This demonstrates the significance of religious leaders in the fight against the tobacco pandemic. Religious leaders can influence the majority of the populace. The consequence will likely be quite satisfying if they are motivated and organised to participate in tobacco-control activities.

A study by Byron (2015) showed some of the smokers with whom we spoke, said they attempt not to annoy others with their smoke. Nonsmokers and a few smokers described how they had scolded people for smoking in air-conditioned settings or in the presence of youngsters or pregnant women. One nonsmoker described his reaction upon observing a smoker in the presence of others: ‘In my view, this individual is dzalim [Islamic term meaning wicked since they intentionally harm others]’. Women and children are present, but they smoke as they like. That would be dzalim; that is a serious sin (Byron 2015).

The prohibition of smoking is muwafaqah bil maqashid asy-syariah [according to the objectives of the Shari’a], namely maintaining the five cases as mentioned above. Allah SWT says that ‘the characteristics of believers are and those who keep the mandates (which they carry) and their promises’ (Q.S. al-Mu’minun: 8).

An Islamic scholar named Qaradhawi (2008) mentioned strictly that smoking is prohibited because cigarettes can cause various kinds of danger, both danger that comes immediately or danger that comes gradually and can also be a waste of wealth. Smoking is also often identified with behaviour that harms a person’s psychology and morals.

A study by Sucakli (2011) showed religious officials were not smoking at home although it was not prohibited. Religious officials agree that people should not smoke in public. Smoking religious officials respect the health of family members if they smoke in the public area. A study by Radwan (2003) showed with increasing exposure to religious leaders’ anti-smoking teachings, smoking-related fatwa knowledge grew dramatically. The knowledge of the fatwa against smoking or the notion that smoking is a sin does not influence attempts to quit.

The views of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), NU and Muhammadiyah can be understood that the point of difference in the fatwa about smoking is from the perspective of the ulemas’ arguments used and the dangers of smoking. The tendency to consider the prohibition of smoking is the achievement of maqasid sharia, namely to maintain personal health (hifz al nafs) and also to maintain property (hifz al mal) (Nurhayati 2021).

Smokers who smoke in public places, including smoke-free areas, are considered damaging to the objectives of maqashid sharia. The mosque is one of the places categorised as smoke-free areas. In the perspective of maqashid sharia, the worshippers smoking in the mosque have violated two pillars, and one of them is (1) (hifz al-din) taking care of themselves. In the context of health, it is agreed that there are no benefits to smoking; (2) Maintaining property (hifz-mal), where a smoker will spend their money on deeds that are not beneficial and even harmful to their health. On the contrary, smoking is detrimental to health. An active smoker is at risk of various health problems, such as respiratory issues and lung cancer (O’Keeffe 2018; Rahal 2017), periodontal disease, oral cancer (Zhang 2019) and other cancer risks. Moreover, worshippers smoking in the mosque danger themselves and other worshippers who can become second-hand and third-hand smokers from such action – inhaling cigarette smoke imparts future damage to the person concerned to maintain personal health (hifz al nafs).

Regarding maintaining property (Hifz al Mal), the head of a smoker family must share his income to meet family needs by buying cigarettes (Nasution 2022b; Oktaviasari 2012). The expenditure on the purchase of cigarettes becomes the largest after basic food needs, education and health investment. Many smokers have admitted that they do not find the benefits of smoking at all. Smoking behaviour should be prohibited, not in terms of its use, but because it is a waste (Satria 2020).

The head of a family who is a smoker can maintain the property well if the money spent on cigarettes is used to meet the nutrition needed by his family, and this is more beneficial. Qur’an Al-Baqarah (2:195): ‘Spend in the cause of Allah and do not let your own hands throw you into destruction ‘’by withholding’’. And do good, for Allah certainly loves the good-doers (2:195)’.

In principle, the worshippers smoking in the mosque have violated two things, namely, (1) violating the regional regulation issued by the mayor of Medan in that it explains that smoking is not allowed in the nonsmoking area (including mosques) through Regional Regulation No. 3 of 2014 regarding the smoke-free policy, which includes the places of worship, such as mosques, prayer rooms, recitation places and other similar places; (2) Violation of the ulemas fatwa on the prohibition of smoking of Muslims in mosques. According to Nakhaee (2009), the incidence of smoking was much lower among individuals who regularly participated in religious activities, particularly those who prayed often.

The mayor of Medan has made rules on the prohibition of smoking in mosques to keep the air healthy and free of cigarette chemicals. The smoke-free policy in the Regional Regulation No. 4 in Medan is an effort made by the government in Medan to reduce the risk of worshippers in the mosque being exposed to cigarettes. The results of this study indicate that of 305 mosques observed, many mosques still have violations related to the smoke-free policy; smoking infractions are observed at mosques, such as cigarette ashtrays in the courtyard and worshippers who smoke in the courtyard.

The results of this study indicate that there are still many community leaders who smoke in the mosque, mosque administrators smoking in the mosque and even ulemas smoking in the mosques. This smoking behaviour occurs because the community leaders and the religious teachers still smoke in the mosque.

Ulemas (religious teachers) and community leaders are role models for the community, so their behaviour will impact the community’s smoking behaviour in mosques. Many worshippers smoke inside the mosque because they imitate the community leaders, and the Islamic teachers also smoke in the mosque. Likely, the choice of smoking law in classical fiqh, which considers smoking discouraged, is why worshippers in the mosque keep smoking and ignore the fatwa issued by the MUI.

Cigarettes should be prohibited because of the danger in smoking. Furthermore, smoking can cause another danger, namely dharár mali [danger to property] (Yunus 2009). The prohibition of smoking is muwafaqah bil maqashid ash-syariah [according to the objectives of the sharia], namely maintaining the five cases as mentioned above. Allah SWT mentioned in the Qur’an that the characteristics of believers are ‘And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive’ (Q.S: Al-Mukminun:8).

Smoking in the mosque can be understood as the decision made by the MUI that prohibits the behaviour of smoking in public places, so the smoke-free policy is carried out as a form of embodiment and implementation of the fatwa issued by the MUI. Furthermore, the fatwa issued by the MUI related to smoking applies to all leaders and administrators of the MUI as a consequence of the fatwa. Therefore, the behaviour of community leaders smoking in public places, especially in mosques, is counterproductive to the fatwa issued by the MUI. The smoke-free policy is an alternative solution to the legal dynamics of smoking in public places.

Many mosques do not provide information about the prohibition of smoking in the mosque area, even though cigarette ashtrays with cigarette butts can be seen behind the mosque walls. When several religious studies were conducted in the mosque, it was not uncommon to find people smoking in the mosque’s yard. However, we did not find any warnings from other worshippers or mosque administrators regarding the smoke behaviour carried out in the mosque. The mosque administrators and worshippers mentioned that they did not know that the mosque was one of the places included in the smoke-free policy.


All Islamic organisations and ulemas in Indonesia agreed to issue a fatwa prohibiting smoking in mosques; however, there are still numerous mosques with worshippers who smoke in the mosque area. Smoking in mosques greatly interferes with the comfort of worshippers in carrying out worship and increases the risk of exposure to cigarette smoke, which is harmful to health.

Smoking behaviour, carried out by worshippers in the mosque, mosque administrators and Islamic scholars, is contrary to the fatwa issued by the MUI and the fatwa issued by the Muhammadiyah, which prohibits Muslims from smoking around other people because this can endanger others. However, we can still find many Muslims who smoke even in public places, including mosques.

Islam has ordered its people not to endanger their lives and the lives of others (hifz al nafs), including by preventing smoking in mosques that could endanger the health of others. The smoking of mosque worshippers, mosque administrators and ulemas in mosques havs endangered the worshippers themselves, as well as others. Cigarette smoke can endanger the worshippers and can cause them to become second-hand and third-hand smokers, which will put them at risk for health problems. Mosque administrators should act decisively against worshippers who smoke in mosques by warning the worshippers who smoke in the mosque so that they are aware that smoking in the mosque violates the rules in the mosques.

The government of Medan, through the Regional Regulation No. 3 of 2014, has regulated a smoke-free policy, including in mosques, by hoping that the worshippers in the mosque will not be exposed to cigarette smoke so that they can pray comfortably in the mosque. Muslims should have an obligation to obey leaders (ulil amri) for the benefit of every Muslim, so they should not violate the smoke-free policy implemented by the government.

Compliance with government regulations is the obligation of every citizen in realising goodness and prosperity for the citizens the government policy aims to benefit. Mosque worshippers and ulemas need to comply with the fatwa of the MUI, which prohibits smoking in public places in front of children and pregnant women, including in mosques. In other words, the worshippers smoking in the mosque do not follow the fatwa stipulated in 2009. On the other hand, the violation of smoking in the mosque was triggered by the example given by the mosque administrators, community leaders and the religious teachers who also smoke in the mosque. Therefore, the reasons for the worshippers to smoke in the mosque are getting stronger following the role models of the people who also smoke in the mosque. It is very likely that the smoking law in classical fiqh, which discouraged smoking, has become one of the reasons why the worshippers smoke and ignore the fatwa issued by the central MUI.


The researchers thank Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara for providing an opportunity to researchers in carrying out this study.

Competing interests

The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

Authors’ contributions

W.M. contributed the following: conceptualisation, methodology, formal analysis, investigation, writing of the original draft, visualisation, project administration, review and editing of the manuscript and funding acquisition; M.A.A.’s contributions are investigation, writing of the original draft, project administration and funding acquisition; R.R.’s contributions are methodology, formal analysis and investigation; A.S.’s contributions are conceptualisation, methodology, project administration and funding acquisition; P.A.S.’s contributions are conceptualisation, methodology, validation and data curation; S.A.H.’s contributions are project administration in the manuscript; M.S.A.N.’s contributions are visualisation and project administration; F.H.’s contributions are visualisation and project administration; and R.E.’s contributions are visualisation and project administration; D.T. contributed to the software, data curation, writing, editing and reviewing the article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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