OP-ED

The troubling Qat addiction of the Yemenis

National Yemen

Harun Yahya

By Harun Yahya

It is estimated that all around the world, some 10 million people chew Qat on a daily basis…

Its use goes back centuries …It’s typically used for its mild stimulating effects…But it’s known to create addiction after a certain period of use…

One hour after it’s chewed, it increases both blood pressure and  heart  rate, followed by hyperactivity and a slight euphoria. Long-term use causes depression, psychosis and hallucination, in addition to embolism, heart attack, stroke and oral cancer.

This is a plant called Qat and it is very common in Yemen and in various countries in the Horn of Africa. It is usually consumed by chewing.

Although its homeland is Yemen, its use also is very widespread in Somalia and all of  East Africa. Some experts claim that Qat migrated to Yemen from Ethiopia in the 15th century. However, scientists and  historians believe that the Qat was also used in  ancient Egypt.

If you see someone in Yemen with a bulging cheek and a far-off stare, he is probably high on Qat.

The World Heath Organization has classified Qat as a substance that creates dependence. For this reason, many countries have banned its cultivation; however in Yemen  its production and use is completely legal.

Qat is a substance that has devastating effects not only on its users but also on Yemen in general as well. 45% of the Yemeni population are suffering from poverty but despite this fact, two out of every three males in Yemen manage to spend five dollars on Qat every day; this obviously proves to be very costly for the country. Some researchers even claim that the money spent on Qat in Yemen is more than the money spent on food.

The mental processes of the people who consume Qat slow down and as a result they tend to act listlessly, directly affecting work periods. This is another blow to the already suffering Yemeni economy.

Another area of damage Qat does is to the agricultural sector; many farmers in Yemen cultivate Qat as it brings more money than grains, fruits and vegetables. This means that Qat takes up a good deal of arable land and puts a strain on   already limited water resources. 40% of the agricultural irrigation is done for Qat, and 60% according to some others. Qat makes the water shortage felt even more harshly in Yemen,  a country that already suffers severely from its dry climate.

However, Qat keeps spreading, doubling the damage it has done to the people of Yemen and the country in general, despite campaigns and precautions to curb its use.

It is actually quite surprising that Yemenis willingly do this physical and mental harm to themselves. A sensible person with a conscience would never put himself in that position. Only a lack of will, caused by weakness of faith or lack thereof, can lead a person to a situation where he accepts doing such damage to himself. God informs us of this aspect of the people who are distant from religion with the following verse: God does not wrong people in any way; rather it is people who wrong themselves.” (Surah Yunus, 44)

Hundreds of different methods and ways have been developed to put an end to substance abuse. Aid campaigns have been launched, rehabilitation centers have been built, new treatments have been developed, and they were all supported by a countless string of programs, seminars, therapies; but none of them managed to provide a real solution. It is not uncommon to see a drug addict attending rehabilitation but returning to his addiction after finishing rehabilitation. All too often, a person who was arrested for dealing drugs does not necessarily stop doing it once he is released. The same goes for those who are heavily dependent on alcohol and cigarettes. The most effective way to save an addict is giving him a strong will that stems from a fear of and love of God. It is only faith in God that gives one such an indomitable will.

There is always something that could tempt a person even with the strongest will but there is nothing that could overcome a will that is strong due to a fear of God and a desire to avoid hell. A person who deeply believes in God will immediately cease substance abuse as soon as he understands that the substance harms both him and the people around him, and after he stops it, nothing can convince him to go back.  Therefore only the love of God, fear of God and a belief in the Hereafter can drive one away from these harmful habits for good. God explains in a verse that those who revel in faith in God and despise immorality will find the right way:
However, God has given you love of faith and made it pleasing to your hearts, and has made disbelief, deviance and disobedience hateful to you. People such as these are rightly guided. (Surat al-Hujurat, 7)

It is only the beautiful morals brought by religion that can keep people from perverse acts and evil actions. God explains in a verse:

Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Prayer precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of God is greater still. God knows what you do. (Surat al-Ankabut, 45)

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com