Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Forgiveness is at the heart of drug rehabilitation

A bold, new Dubai radio show aims to give support to drug users and their families

Abdullah Al Ansari, host of the Masmooh radio show. Victor Besa/The National
Abdullah Al Ansari, host of the Masmooh radio show. Victor Besa/The National

In an interview with The National, Dubai imam Abdullah Mohammad Al Ansari has explained the concept for a groundbreaking radio show, being broadcast in the emirate throughout the holy month of Ramadan. “We want to help everyone realise that addiction is not a crime and addicts are not criminals,” he said. “The way some families deal with their loved ones who suffer from drug abuse often backfires, as they are not aware of what they should do. So we are also trying to help them.” As both a spiritual leader and director of community research, awareness and public relations at Dubai's Erada Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation, it is a job for which Mr Al Ansari is perfectly suited.

While Islam prohibits the use of intoxicants, a small number of people still struggle with addiction across the Arab world. Recognising this and taking a bold, progressive stance, the UAE has made a series of reforms over recent years. In 2016, the use of illegal drugs was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanour, while drug users were allowed to be admitted to centres for professional treatment, rather than facing jail or fines. In 2017, plans to establish specialist drug courts, tailored to understanding and tackling these specific problems, were announced. Then, last year, the nation revealed its intention to build the region’s first centre for the training of health workers to treat drug addiction. This forward-looking, multifaceted approach, focused on rehabilitation and the restoration of dignity, stands to benefit individuals, the nation and the wider region.

The idea of personal redemption and empowerment is something that Mr Al Ansari has a powerful belief in. His broadcasts are part of a broader effort to reintegrate people with substance-abuse issues to society, based around an ethos that is summed up in the show’s title: Masmooh – Arabic for “Forgiven”. As he says: ““We want to help everyone realise that addiction is not a crime and addicts are not criminals. They are suffering from an illness – the recovery from which requires the forgiveness and support of all segments of the community.”

Updated: May 20, 2019 05:13 AM

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