The Lancet: Alcohol Consumption Carries Significant Health Risks and No Benefits for Young People; Ismaili Imams Have Advised Their Jamats to Stay Away from Facile Social Habits

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Over the past week, the media around the world has taken note of an important worldwide study published in the July 14, 2022 issue of The Lancet (see News Release) which says that the consumption of alcohol in any amount carried significant health risks and no benefits to young people. The Lancet is among the world’s oldest and best-known general medical journals. Some of the headlines in the media, with links to detailed reports (that are accessible without a subscription), were as follows:

  • Alcohol is never good for people under 40, global study finds (The Guardian)
  • Alcohol, Even in Moderation, Carries Health Risks for People Under 40 (Healthline)
  • No amount of alcohol is healthy if you’re under 40, study says (CNN)
  • Drinking just 3 cans of beer a week may be linked to cognitive decline (Medical News Today)
  • Young people should not drink’: World study challenges alcohol guidelines (Global News)
  • Drinking Any Amount of Alcohol Isn’t Good for People Under 40, New Global Study Finds (People Magazine)
  • Sobering new study says that those under age 40 shouldn’t drink alcohol at all (Fox News)

In October 2018, when Canada legalized the recreational use of marihuana, we expressed our concern on the matter, and asked the Ismaili Jamat and its youth to seek to be wary, and apply principles of good health in our daily lives, in view of the very easy access to the drug, and temptations to try it out.

Both Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III and Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, have articulated their feelings and concerns about social habits and their harmful effects during their Imamat. When speaking to the Transvaal Muslim League in the Johannesburg City Hall on August 12, 1945, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah asked his Muslim audience to avoid alcohol at all costs. He said:

“The greatest danger, to every Muslim citizen — I have not the least hesitation in saying it — is alcohol. Time has shown that it is an injury to you; an injury to your person; an injury to your health. It is forbidden because it carries greater evil than good. Believe me, in a community like yours, alcohol is a very grave danger. Once you got into the alcohol habit, I do not know where it would lead you. A handful, here and there, of the weak, or of the unhappy, find their way to this terrible poison. Avoid it at all costs. Avoid it, I say, for in this country you cannot afford to lose one man.”

Speaking to the Jamat and addressing the youth in particular the present 49th Imam has said:

“In the past I have said to you, do not squander your money on social habits which are of no interest and which are harmful and I have mentioned smoking, I have mentioned drinking. I now add to the list drug-taking. I say to you today, and particularly the younger generation, use your energy, use your imagination, use your strength, but do not waste it. Do not waste it in drinking, in smoking cigarettes, in eating, in smoking drugs or whatever it may be. This is not for our Jamat. I say to you stay a healthy Jamat and face the problems without wasting your energy and time and money on these other habits. Remember this is a matter of importance, because these habits can weaken the Jamat.” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dar es Salaam, November 11, 1970 [1]


“Do not abandon the overall principle of good health, of good morality which Islam has taught all the members of its faith. To the young, I say, remember that one day you will be parents, and ask yourselves if you will authorize your children to participate in certain habits which are prevalent in the Western World, and I am sure the answer will be in the vast majority, no. Because our Jamat is a strong Jamat, and I want you to be absolutely clear in your minds that when you come to another society, you must have the wisdom to absorb that which is good and to ignore or reject that which would be detrimental to you or to your family.” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, August 3, 1969 in London, England [2]

With a reputable journal such as The Lancet now suggesting that young people should not drink, we urge the Ismaili youth and its young professionals to avoid alcohol at all costs, and seek to abide by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance to the younger generation: “Use your energy, use your imagination, use your strength, but do not waste it. Do not waste it in drinking, in smoking cigarettes, in eating, in smoking drugs or whatever it may be.”

During his Takht Nashini visit to Kampala, Uganda, on October 27, 1957, Mawlana Hazar Imam said:

“My Beloved Spiritual Children,

Your care and welfare will always be my concern. I am certain that you and your children, will benefit if you follow the advice I have given you.”

Throughout his Imamat of 65 years, Mawlana Hazar Imam has always sought that the characteristic of the Jamat should be such that we should seek at all times for the best in worldly matters and the best in spiritual matters, and that so long as the Jamat continued in this search for the best in both the worlds and followed his Famans we would always have a happy and prosperous future. (Dacca, December 8, 1964).

Date posted: July 21, 2022.



[1, 2] – Farman quotes from archives and notes of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) on social habits. See also this article Applying Good Principles in our Daily Living.



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