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Kush: A menacing shadow on The Smiling Coast and a call to Islamic principles

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By Yahya Fatty

The tragic demise of a young boy due to a Kush overdose, as reported by a Gambian media outlet, underscores the escalating alarm over the increasing addiction rates among youths. This echoes earlier alerts raised by various online media platforms regarding Kush in Sierra Leone and Liberia, urging authorities to take decisive action.

Now this deadly substance is being trafficked into The Gambia. A young boy reportedly lost his life in Sukuta from Kush overdose.

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One of the media outlets wrote that Kush is wreaking havoc in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone where it is estimated to kill around a dozen people each week and hundreds hospitalised.

Taken mostly by men aged 18 to 25, the drug causes them to fall asleep while walking, and they fall over, bang their heads against hard surfaces or walk into moving traffic. Kush should not be confused with the drug of the same name found in the US, which is a mixture of “an ever-changing host of chemicals” sprayed on plant matter and smoked. Kush in Sierra Leone is quite different; it is a mixture of cannabis, fentanyl, tramadol, formaldehyde and according to some, ground down human bones. It is mixed by local criminal gangs, but the constituent drugs have international sources, facilitated no doubt by the Internet and digital communications.

Kush now serves as one of the favourite dishes for most of the youths in the sub region. According to reports the youths who take this drug go to the extent of committing crimes such as robbery, pick-pocketing to get cash to buy Kush.

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In this article I will discuss about the chemicals combined to produce, the problems that come with the usage of these chemicals and the Islamic teaching with regard to intoxicants.

Cannabis: An essential element of Kush

Cannabis also known as marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds.

Cannabis is an illegal drug in the Gambia and its punishable by law, yet it is the most used drug for intoxication in the country, and even some school-going students consume it.

Research indicates that cannabis has serious health effects, which include both long-term and short-term effects. Some of its short-term outcomes include altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colours), changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory, hallucinations (when taken in high doses), delusions (when taken in high doses) and psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana).

Its long-term negative outcomes include: impair thinking, loss of memory, learning problems and it affects how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.

Fentanyl:

“Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. Tolerance occurs when you need a higher and/or more frequent amount of a drug to get the desired effects.

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug. When people become addicted, drug seeking and drug use take over their lives.

Fentanyl’s effects include, extreme happiness, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, problems breathing, unconsciousness.

Tramadol:

Tramadol is a strong pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain that is not being relieved by other types of pain medicines. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and acts in the brain and spine (central nervous system) to reduce the amount of pain you feel. 

Human bones

Bone and bone marrow are specimens recently investigated as a matrix for drug testing. Following extraction by soaking bone in organic solvent, routine drug assays may be utilised to measure compounds. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and illicit drugs such as cocaine have been reported in bone.

The mixture of the aforementioned elements is what give birth to the deadly Kush also known as “Gina Bass” in The Gambia.

Islamic teaching about intoxicants

In the Holy Qur’an, Allah Almighty prohibits the consumption of all intoxicants in the following words:

“They ask thee concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say: ‘In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men; but their sin is greater than their advantage.’ And they ask thee what they should spend. Say: ‘What you can spare.’ Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect.” (Qur’an: 2:220)

The Arabic word “al-khamr” is used in this verse which means anything that intoxicates or alters the mind. Thus, all forms of intoxicants are forbidden. The verse clearly explains the problems created by the use of intoxicants; first, they lead to hatred and enmity among people, causing murder, violence, immoral behaviour and so forth; and secondly, they lead people away from Allah and His religion.

Allah wants the believers to keep their minds pure and clean, so that they worship Him fully. A Muslim may not offer prayers (sala’at) when he is not in full possession of his senses, even if that is caused by excessive emotion or a state of sleep.

Certainly, a mind that is intoxicated is not able to focus on Allah.

So anything that agitate or incite the mind so as to make it uncontrollable is refers to as ??? ( khamr), therefore wine and all other intoxicated products such as Kush or Gina Bass  are all Khamr. And consumption of such products is prohibited in Islam.

From the meaning of the word ??? (wine) as given above, it should not be understood that Islam prohibits the use of only such quantity of wine as may make one drunk. The Holy Prophet has made it definitely clear that even small doses of such things as may intoxicate one when used in larger doses are unlawful (Tirmidhi).

Islam prohibits us from taking intoxicants because they are harmful to our physical and spiritual well-being. The Promise Messiah and Imam Mahdi (as), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Commuity while drawing people’s attention to this very fact, stated:

“All those wealthy persons who consume alcohol also carry the sins of the people who intoxicate themselves under their influence. You who claim to possess understanding! Know that this world is not eternal, so take hold of yourselves. Eschew all immoderation and abstain from every type of intoxicant.”

It is not alcohol alone that ruins a person. Opium, ganja, charas, bhang, tarhi and all other addictions are similarly destructive. They ruin the mind and destroy lives. So, shun all such substances. I cannot understand why one would choose to indulge in these intoxicants when, year on year, they claim the lives of thousands of addicts—not to mention the torment of the hereafter. 

He further states: “When a person becomes addicted to drugs then it becomes difficult for him to stop. What are drugs? On the one hand they destroy life and on the other hand they are also sustenance for life. If a drug addict does not get a dose of the drug, then his condition can reach death”.

Islam established this wonderful teaching at a time when there was nothing like technology or laboratories to discover the negative effects of wine and other intoxicant products, it was a time when drunkards were look upon with pride , the most intoxicated were considered the most honoured and courageous among men, but through the spiritual powers of the Holy prophet (saw) these men were able to embrace control their carnal desires, give up drinking and other mischievous act and then embraced the life of righteousness through which they were able to excel more both in their physical and spiritual lives.

In conclusion, drugs are very detrimental to the mental, moral and spiritual health of every individual; so the government should be proactive towards making our societies drug free in order to protect the youths from such harmful drugs.

Yahya Fatty is a student at the International University of Theology and Scholastic Sciences, Ghana.

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