There is Ikhtilaaf amongst the scholars regarding the rule of smoking in Islam.
According to some scholars it is haram, whereas others believe it’s not haram but disliked and there are a few scholars who say it is mubah (not disliked but perfectly permissable).
They all agree smoking causes harm to one’s health. The argument is whether it is haram to use that which harms. The statement “smoking kills” is not without doubt because not all smokers die because of smoking.
Poison is haram in Islam because death is yaqeeny (without doubt) after its use, as opposed to smoking. A smoker doesn’t know whether it will cause his death, but there is a high chance.
The scholars who say it’s permissible agree that smoking cigarettes before entering the masjid is disliked because of the bad smell, the hukm is the same as the hukm of raw onions and garlic.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) told his companions not to eat onions and garlic at prayer times (before coming to the masjid) because the angels dislike the smell just like humans. In other Ahadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) was presented a dish with raw onions or garlic and he gave it to the companions (Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with him) and told them to eat and said “I talk with them, you don’t”, the statement means I talk with the angels but you do not.
Therefore, he who takes the ruling of those who say it is permissible must not smoke at prayer times or before going to the masjid.
After all the ikhtilaf I end by giving you the simple hukm which will help you act upon every scholar’s statement, that is whenever there is ikhtilaf between the scholars, one should always act upon the safer ruling, which clearly means to not smoke.
Allah knows best.
Imam Ahmed Raza Khan states in his great encyclopaedia on Hanafi fiqh:
Fatawa Ridawiyyah Vol. 24 Pg. 555 in answer to someone who asks as regards to cigars that it is mubah (neither punished nor rewarded for this) however, it is best to leave it instead of spending money in waste, one can easily help our brothers and sisters who do not have enough financial support even to live a normal life.
May Almighty Allah give us the tawfiq on helping others to help ourselves in this world and the hereafter.
[Answer provided by: Mawlana Zahid Husain and verified by Mawlana Mohammed Kalim]