Diyanet staff that smoke may not be assigned to hajj, umrah duties
“This year, we will prefer religious officials who do not smoke on hajj and umrah visits,” Erbaş said.
“Maybe in the future, smokers will not even be allowed to sit exams to become imams. I truly care about this,” Erbaş told state-run Anadolu Agency on Jan. 28.
He urged religious officials to approach the issue sensitively, saying that citizens were complaining about smokers in the religious community.
“All of our imams who are in a sacred duty as well as all of our officials must stay away from such habits. Our citizens do not want to see religious officials with cigarettes in their hands,” he added.
Erbaş stressed that smoking is regarded “haram” (forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law) by many religious scholars and his opinion is in accordance with theirs too.
He also said that imams will continue to tell people during preaching sessions what kind of harms smoking causes.
The Diyanet head also emphasized that religion takes people away from their bad habits, and within this scope, the fight against smoking is a duty for the religious community.
“People should stay away from habits that harm them; this is what the religion orders. Thus, one of our significant duties is to protect people from things that cause them harm,” he added.
Erbaş also stressed that with the money spent on smoking, many famished and poor people could be provided aid.
“Our country spends $30 billion annually on smoking. Every 3.5 seconds, a person dies of hunger in the world. If only half of the money paid for cigarettes is given to people who are about to die of starvation, those people could be saved,” he said.