Consumption of Niswar (Naswar)

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Question: I know a traditional and very knowledgeable Imam in my community who is using "niswar". Is this chewing tobacco? If he’s addicted to it, isn't it a very big problem? What should I do as a member of the congregation and his humble student? I don't want to hurt his feelings but at the same time he should put an end to the habit, right?

Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Niswar is a kind of smokeless tobacco produced in Asia. It is also known as Naswar or Nass. It is similar to chewing the tobacco in the leaf known as “Pan”.

The ruling with regards to chewing such tobacco is differed upon among contemporary scholars, as is the case in smoking cigarettes and pipes. Major Arab scholars regard the consumption of tobacco in cigarettes to be unlawful (haram) whereas the Hanafi scholars of the Indian subcontinent hold it to be permissible, although somewhat disliked (makruh tanzihan), provided one rids himself of the bad smell as quick as possible.

Thus, major Hanafi scholars from the Indian subcontinent have permitted the chewing of tobacco in the form of Niswar or Pan, although it will be detested. The degree of detestability would vary according to the tobacco contained in the substance. Chewing tobacco in these substances is also considered to be less of harm than actually smoking cigarettes, as proven by experts. Also, the aspect of harming others by passive smoking and bad smell (which is apparent is cigarettes) is not found in such substances or is relatively less.

One the great late Hanafi scholars, Imam Abd al-Hay al-Lakhnawi (Allah have mercy on him) has stated in his naf’ al-Mufti wa al-Sa’il that, it will be permitted to consume pan, for the tobacco contained therein is relatively less. (See: al-Fatawa al-Lakhnawi, p. 379).

Thus, precaution would definitely be in avoiding Niswar and other such substances, as some scholars have a strict opinion regarding them. However, there is scope in following the Ijtihad of those who are more lenient.

Therefore, the Imam and teacher regarding whom you have mentioned that he has a habit of chewing Niswar should not be disregarded or looked down upon due to this fact. He could be following the more flexible opinion or there could be some other reason. One should always have a good assumption (husn al-Zann) about others especially scholars and Imams.

And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK

Article taken (with Thanks) from


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This page was last updated on June 14, 2003 .