A recent announcement by the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drugs (NACADA) to launch distribution of free syringes to 46,000 drug users at the Coast and in Nairobi is the most absurd project in the history of the fight against the social problem in Kenya. The move is the clearest indication so far that the government has completely lost direction in its war against this vice which threatens to wipe out future generations. When legislation is debased from its Divine origins so that it becomes just some ‘secular regulation’, it can be circumvented and its unintended effects can be very negative and far-reaching. Mere legal prohibition of drugs abuse in many countries especially in the West have not only utterly failed but made the habit and trade to flourish underground through crimes, extortion and blackmail.
The lesson to be learned is that drug abuse is an issue of morals and you cannot instill morals through legislation. The only way to eradicate the evil of drugs is through religious conviction. Modern society prides itself of technical achievements yet it has fallen back into the trap of social evils because it has lost moral conscience and sense of direction. In Kenya, every variety of youth culture is on display including the utterly self-destructive. However, the situation is not irreversible not matter how desperate it appears. Islam has laid the best precedent in history by managing to eradicate intoxicants in the city state of Medina 1400 years ago. The Holy Prophet’s (SAW) approach prioritized ideological awareness. Legislation in form of heavy punishment came only after the people had been made fully aware of the ill effects of the intoxicants. The method was so successful that not only drunkards stopped drinking all of a sudden but liquor merchants from Syria ceased exporting the brew to Medina.
Islamic intention is not just to suppress an evil; rather, it aims to uproot it. It is the only religion which has taken a firm stand against this evil as it advocates total prohibition of narcotic drugs. Not only drugs are prohibited but also trading in them is not permitted at any scale. The cultivator, processor, assistant, transporter, loader, distributor, seller, purchaser, consumer and whoever uses the sale proceeds and profits are all accomplices in the vice and liable for punishment. While the haphazard and hypocritical approaches where law enforcement agencies collide with gangster syndicates are bound to fail, Islam shows the way how a pure, healthy and progressive society can be built which need not be ashamed of its darker side and need not dumb its senses in guilt and desperation. Islam acknowledges how entrenched such habits can be in people and that there cannot be changes overnight. Hence, the gradual eradication has to go hand in hand with an educational campaign to build moral awareness and spiritual identity in a society. A conscious believer will not seek to break the Divine Command, because he is aware that God sees and knows. The war against drugs is therefore a moral war which must involve all stakeholders and requires multi-pronged approach. It is an evil that must be fought by individuals, society and government. Nevertheless, religion must be at the forefront and speak out vehemently and unequivocally against this evil.