THE TOBACCO FATWA
In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
The Iranian people’s struggles against domestic despotism and foreign hegemony.
May 14 is a red-letter day in the history of the Iranian people’s struggles against domestic despotism and foreign hegemony. It was on this day that a famous fatwa or religious edict was issued by the marja’ or senior-most Source of Emulation of the times, Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, banning consumption of tobacco, to foil the British plot to ruin Iranian economy. Stay with us for a special feature in this regard.
During the third trip to Europe of the inefficient Qajarid king of Iran, Nasiruddin Shah, a British official by the name of Talbot concluded a one-sided agreement, forcing Iran to grant monopoly of the cultivation, production, sale and export of tobacco in Iran, through a British company named Regie. For a paltry sum of British pounds, the inefficient Iranian government had almost sold the nation’s resources to the foreigners.
The people of Iran, however, were greatly angered by such a move, and inspired by the religious leaders, strongly campaigned for cancellation of the grant. Soon news of the demonstrations in Iran and other cities reached Iraq, where in the holy city of Samarra Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi was based.
The warning of the Ayatollah
The Ayatollah promptly sent a telegram to the Iranian king warning him of the ruin he was bringing upon the Iranian economy and harming national sovereignty. When Nasiruddin Shah failed to heed the warnings, Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi had no other choice but issue a Fatwa prohibiting use of tobacco, and saying that any use of tobacco from now onwards would be considered war against the Imam of the Age, Imam Mahdi (AS), the 12th and Last Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Immediately, the Muslim people of Iran obeyed the edict, and throughout the country refrained from buying, selling and using tobacco.
The ban even spread to the royal palace
The ban even spread to the royal palace, where the queen ordered the breaking of all tobacco pipes and the traditional hookahs. When Nasiruddin Shah asked her, on whose orders she had done such things, she promptly replied: On the orders of the person who has legalized husband-and-wife relations between me and you. Nasiruddin Shah had no choice but to cancel the tobacco concession.
This was a timely move to save Iranian economy, since the tobacco concession had granted Regie Company 50 years for full exploitation of the resources of Iranians, of whom 20 percent were engaged in cultivation and sale of tobacco, whose profits went into the pockets of the British colonialists.
The ulamah in various cities of Iran had firmly opposed the tobacco concession.
Prior to the Fatwa of Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, the ulema in various cities of Iran had firmly opposed the tobacco concession. For example, in Tabriz, Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Tabrizi telegraphed the Shah, saying: We the people of Azerbaijan do not sell ourselves to foreigners and will fight till the last moment of our life.
In Khorasan, the people were led by Sheikh Mohammad Taqi Bojnourdi, Seyyed Habib Mojtahed Shahidi and Mirza Ahmad Razavi, who gathered in the holy shrine of the Prophet’s (saw) 8th Infallible Heir in Mashhad, Imam Reza (AS), and staged a sit-in protest in the famous Goharshad Mosque. In Tehran, the people were led by Sheikh Fazlollah Noori, and Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Hassan Ashtiani – the student of Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi.
In Shiraz, it was Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Akbar Fal- Asiri, who mobilized the people against domestic despotic and foreign hegemony. Agents of the regime, frightened by the uprising, opened fire on the people and martyred some of them. Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, on hearing of the tragic incidents in Shiraz, sent a telegram to the Shah in Tehran from Samarra, denouncing the killing of people.
Finally, when the fatwa was issued by Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, at first the agents of the regime, tried to prevent its circulation amongst the people, but failed to prevent it.
As the Fatwa was circulated in Iranian towns and cities, all tobacco merchants shut down their shops and all people stopped smoking. Even the Jews and Christians cooperated with Muslims and refrained from using tobacco. And when the ban spread to the royal palace and harem of the king, Nasiruddin Shah had thus, no other choice, but to heed the Fatwa and cancel the tobacco concession to Regie Company.
These events are known in Iranian history as the Tobacco Movement
These events are known in Iranian history as the Tobacco Movement and showed the influence of the ulema on the daily life of the people, as well as the power of the people against domestic despotism and foreign hegemony. This movement and the historic Fatwa by Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, was the beginning of a serious campaign against dictatorship in Iran that led to the Constitutional Revolution of the next few decades. It put a big question mark on the legitimacy of the monarchic system and the person of the king who had no legal or spiritual authority to rule the Iranian people.
The unsparing support of the Iranian people for the Fatwa of the Marja’ of the time, proved that Islam and the ulema exercise a deep-rooted influence on the hearts of the Muslim people of Iran. The Tobacco Uprising could thus be considered as the first organized Islāmic awakening of the Iranian people for materializing of their birth rights and determination to fight domestic despotism and foreign hegemony.
The fear of the spiritual leaders
Countries that want to colonize other countries are countries that want to create an unhealthy environment in this world. What colonialism introduces must be examined. Today in the Muslim world, you will find Muslims smoking cigarettes, hookahs and even marijuana. When you as a Muslim insert a substance into your mouth, it is very important to know what you are inserting into your mouth / body. We as Muslims must understand the dangers of tobacco, smoking and drugs.
God created your body so beautiful, so wonderful and so healthy. Why ruin it this way?
I know that there are many religious individuals who smoke. They must understand the danger of this unhealthy habit that will destroy the body of the human being. The western world made tobacco famous in the market because they know that they will make a lot of money from this dirty industry. Today, you see advertisements on celebrities who smoke all kinds of substances, and young people today have not found any better than these role models. This is a tragedy that will affect generation after generation.
Reflect on why the colonialists feared the spiritual leaders. Because the spiritual leaders have something called wisdom. The spiritual leaders know what is healthy and unhealthy for society and man. The spiritual leaders could see with their inner vision that tobacco will crush the countries’ economy and the people’s bodies. The spiritual leaders know that there are Satanic capitalists who make billions on the crushing of human health. Reflect on it, what are the benefits of cigarettes except that it has become a deadly substance that has made it easier for people to socialize. Weak people who do not have self-confidence at all, start smoking so that they can fit into the buddy circles. Don’t let a peer pressure determine your future.
Do not obey the arrogant powers. Never let yourself be fooled by the media. Stay away from all that is unhealthy and draw closer to what is healthy.
If society takes a step toward the negative, then you take a thousand steps toward the positive, even if you will end up alone. In the end, it’s your own journey toward God. The majority will end up in deviation. But you must be strong, so that you don’t end up there.
Our spiritual leaders have truly made wise choices throughout history. They have truly preserved the Orthodox Islāmic doctrine. They have really protected our religion. Now it is up to us who are living in the present to protect and preserve God’s religion. The Satanic capitalists will forever fear the spiritual leaders because they know what danger the spiritual leaders pose to these Satanic capitalists who worship nothing more than materialism.
| Sayyid Ali Shahbaz and Amir Zabidi