A hookah (Persian: قلیان [qalyān]; Hindustani: हुक़्क़ा (Devanagari) حقّہ (Nastaleeq)[hukkā], ḥuqqah, Hukić—also known as a waterpipe, narghile,arghila, qalyān, or by other names) is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin—often glass-based—before inhalation. Health risks of smoking hookah include exposure to toxic chemicals that are not filtered out by the water and risk of infectious disease when hookahs are shared. The water-pipe was either invented by an Irfan Shaikh of the Mughal Empire or originates from the time of the Safavid dynasty, from where it eventually spread to the east into India during that time. The hookah or Argyleh also soon reached Egypt and the Levante during the Ottoman dynasty from neighboring Safavid Iran, where it became very popular and where the mechanism was later perfected. The word hookah is a derivative of "huqqa", an Arabic term. Outside its native region, smoking the hookah has gained popularity in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, Tanzania, and South Africa, largely due to immigrants from the Levant, where it is especially popular, who introduce it to younger people.
Argilah or Argileh (Arabic: أرجيلة, sometimes pronounced Argilee) is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Iraq. Nargile derives from the Persian word nārghile, meaning coconut, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word nārikela (नारिकेल), suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells.
In Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Bulgaria, na[r]gile (на[р]гиле; from Persian nargile) is used to refer to the pipe. Šiša (шиша) refers to the tobacco that is smoked in it. The pipes there often have one or two mouthpieces. The flavored tobacco, created by marinating cuts of tobacco in a multitude of flavored molasses, is placed above the water and covered by pierced foil with hot coals placed on top, and the smoke is drawn through cold water to cool and filter it. In Albania, the hookah is called "Lula" or "lulav".
"Narguile"is the common word in Spain used to refer to the pipe, although "cachimba" is also used, along with "shisha" by Moroccan immigrants in Spain.
Shisha or sheesha (شيشة), from the Persian word shīshe (شیشه), meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt, Sudan and countries of the Arab Peninsula (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia), and in Algeria, Morocco, Greece, Tunisia, and Somalia. In Yemen, the term mada'a is also used.
In Persia, hookah is called "Qalyān" (Persian: Qalyān). Persian Galyan is included in the earliest European compendium on tobacco, thetobacolgia written by Johan Neander and published in Dutch in 1622. It seems that over time water pipes acquired a Persian connotation as in eighteenth-century Egypt the most fashionable pipes were called Karim Khan after the Persian ruler of the day. This is also the name used in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
In Maldives, hookah is called "Gudugudaa".
In the Philippines, hookah is called "Hitboo" and normally used in smoking flavored marijuana. The hookah pipe is also known as the "Marra pipe" in the UK, especially in the North East, where it is used for recreational purposes.
The widespread use of the Indian word "hookah" in the English language is a result of the British Raj, the British dominion of India (1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Kolkata, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:
According to Cyril Elgood (PP.41, 110) in India, the physician Irfan Shaikh, at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542 - 1605 AD) invented the idea. However, a quatrain of Ahlī Shirazi (d. 1535), a Persian poet, refers to the use of the ḡalyān (Falsafī, II, p. 277; Semsār, 1963, p. 15), thus dating its use at least as early as the time of the Shah Ṭahmāsp I. It seems, therefore, that Abu’l-Fath Gilani should be credited with the introduction of the ḡalyān, already in use in Persia, into India. There is, however, no evidence of the existence of the water pipe until the 1560s. Moreover, tobacco is believed to have reached Persia around 1600, so that suggests another substance was probably smoked in Ahlī Shirazi's quatrain, perhaps through some other method.
Following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani, who came from Gilan, a province in the north of Persia, migrated to Hamarastan. He later became a physician in the Mughal court and raised health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen. He subsequently envisaged a system that allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'. Gilani introduced the ḡalyān after Asad Beg, the ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar I to take up smoking. Following popularity among noblemen, this new device for smoking soon became a status symbol for the Indian aristocracy and gentry.