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The Answer to the Question The Reality of Ethanol from the Viewpoint of Islam To: Adhipati-Yudhistira Indradiningrat (Translated)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

To the honorable scholar, Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah, may Allah safeguard him and look after him. Can you please provide an explanation of what exactly is the Islamic view on Ethanol? Is the substance itself considered Khamr, and therefore it is prohibited, regardless whether it stands alone or in a solution, and regardless of its amount (in a solution, e.g.: drinks, perfume, etc.?) I apologize, there is one more thing, please discuss about ethanol in fruits. Barak Allahu Feek.


Wa Alaikum Assalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

As I learned from the specialists in the science of alcohol, that there are two types: Ethyl alcohol and Methyl alcohol. So if the name contained in the question, "Ethanol", is Ethyl alcohol then here's the answer:

1. Alcohol has a class called methyl alcohol, and I was told that it is not an intoxicant but is a deadly
poison. Spirit fuel is from this class, and is taken from sawdust of wood and others. Drinking it causes blindness and can lead to death within days. Accordingly, the methyl is not Khamr, and does not take the ruling (Hukm) of Khamr in terms of impurity (Najasa) and prohibition (Tahreem), except in terms of the use of methyl as a poison based on the principle of causing damage, for Ibn Majah reported from Ubadah Bin As-Samit:

«أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، قَضَى أَنْ لَا ضَرَرَ وَلَا ضِرَارَ»"That the Messenger of Allah (saw) ruled that there is no damage and no causation of harm".

2. Another class of alcohol is called ethyl alcohol, which is used in fermented or distilled intoxicating
drinks, and Medical spirit is of this kind. Ethyl alcohol is also used in the industry as a preservative of some materials, as a drying (dehydrating) agent, as a solvent for some alkali and fats (lubricants), as an anti-freeze, as a solvent for some drugs, as a solvent for aromatic substances such as cologne and perfumes, and is involved in the manufacture of some carpentry materials. These uses are of three types:

a. In one type, alcohol is used as a solvent only, or as an additive to some materials. In such use, alcohol
does not lose its essence or its chemical properties; rather it remains unchanged in its chemical composition and its intoxicating effect. Hence the usage of alcohol under this type is absolutely prohibited (Haram), such as the example of cologne. Thus the usage of cologne is not permissible and it remains impure (Najis), because it contains impurity (Najasa) which is mixed with it, and alcohol remained unchanged. So it constitutes of materials that are blended with Khamr, and Khamr is impure. The evidence for this is the Hadeeth of Al-Khushani: Ad-Daraqtani reported from Al-Khushani who said:

قَالَ: قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا نُخَالِطُ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَلَيْسَ لَنَا قُدُورٌ وَلَا آنِيَةٌ غَيْرُ آنِيَتِهِمْ، قَالَ: فَقَالَ:«اسْتَغْنُوا عَنْهَا مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَجِدُوا فَارْحَضُوهَا بِالْمَاءِ فَإِنَّ الْمَاءَ طَهُورُهَا ثُمَّ اطْبُخُوا فِيهَا»

"I said: O Messenger of Allah, we interact with the Mushrikeen and we have no utensils other than their utensils". He said: "Then he (saw) said: "Avoid them as much as you can, but if you do not find anything else, then rinse them with water, because water restores their purity, then cook in them."

Hence the Messenger (saw) said: «فَإِنَّ الْمَاءَ طَهُورُهَا» "because water restores their purity (Tahara)".

It means that these utensils were Najis, since they were filled with Khamr, and they were purified after being rinsed. This proves that Khamr is Najis and the question concerned utensils that were filled with Khamr, as stated in the narration of Al-Khushani, reported by Abu Dawood from Abi Tha'laba Al- Khushani, that he asked the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said:

عَنْ أَبِي ثَعْلَبَةَ الْخُشَنِيِّ، أَنَّهُ سَأَلَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ * قَالَ: إِنَّا نُجَاوِرُ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ وَهُمْ يَطْبُخُونَ فِي قُدُورِهِمُ الْخِنْزِيرَ وَيَشْرَبُونَ فِي آنِيَتِهِمُ الْخَمْرَ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ *: «إِنْ وَجَدْتُمْ غَيْرَهَا فَكُلُوا فِيهَا وَاشْرَبُوا، وَإِنْ لَمْ تَجِدُوا غَيْرَهَا فَارْحَضُوهَا بِالْمَاءِ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا»

"We adjoin the people of the book while they cook pork in their pots and drink Khamr from their vessels." The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "If you find others than drink and eat from them. If you do not find others, then rinse them with water and eat and drink".

Both pork and Khamr are Najis. Hence the utensils in which they are placed become Najis. They must be washed to restore their purity (Tahara) before their usage.

b. In another type, the essence of alcohol changes and it loses its intoxication property. It is transformed,
together with the other substances, into a new substance that has properties different from those of alcohol. The new substance is non-toxic hence it does not take the Hukm of Khamr and it is pure (Tahir) like any other substance that falls under the Shar'i principle "things are permitted in origin unless there is an evidence of prohibition".

c. In another type, alcohol is changed in its essence and loses its intoxication property. It forms with the
other substances a new substance with chemical properties different from those of alcohol, but the new substance is poisonous, thus it falls under the Hukm of poison: It is Tahir, but its usage for drinking or causing harm with them to oneself or to others is Haram.

3. Therefore, if ethyl alcohol is mixed with other substances then the Hukm regarding it depends on knowing whether the ethyl mixture loses its intoxication property or not, and whether the mixture is poisonous or not...

This needs investigating the underlying reality by experts and specialists. If it is scientifically proven or demonstrated that this mixture is intoxicating then it takes the Hukm of Khamr, indicating that ethyl in the mixture has not lost its intoxicating property and its essence in this mixture. Nevertheless, if it is scientifically or practically proven that this mixture is no longer intoxicating nor that it is poisonous, then it does not take the Hukm of Khamr or the Hukm of poison. However, if it is scientifically or practically proven that the mixture is no longer intoxicating but it remains poisonous, then it does not take the Hukm of alcohol, but it falls under the Hukm of poison.

Accordingly, if the resulting mixture is intoxicating like cologne then it takes the Hukm of Khamr, for the Hadeeth of the Meesenger of Allah (saw) as narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Aisha, the Mother of the believers (ra), she said: «كُلُّ شَرَابٍ أَسْكَرَ فَهُوَ حَرَامٌ» "Every drink intoxicate it is Haram"

And with Muslim narrated from Ibni Umar, who said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: «كُلُّ مُسْكِرٍ خَمْرٌ، وَكُلُّ مُسْكِرٍ حَرَامٌ...»، "Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is Haram".

And in another narration of Ibni Umar: «كُلُّ مُسْكِرٍ خَمْرٌ، وَكُلُّ خَمْرٍ حَرَامٌ» "Every intoxicant is Khamr and every Khamr is Haram".

Additionally, Khamr is forbidden under ten circumstances and not only if it is drunk. At-Tirmidhi reported from Anas Ibn Malik who said:

«لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الخَمْرِ عَشَرَةً: عَاصِرَهَا، وَمُعْتَصِرَهَا، وَشَارِبَهَا، وَحَامِلَهَا، وَالمَحْمُولَةُ إِلَيْهِ، وَسَاقِيَهَا، وَبَائِعَهَا، وَآكِلَ ثَمَنِهَا، وَالمُشْتَرِي لَهَا، وَالمُشْتَرَاةُ لَهُ»

"The Messenger of Allah (saw) has cursed ten in relation to Khamar (alcohol): its producer, the one for whom it is produced, the one who drinks it, the one who transport it, and the one to whom it is transported, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who eats from its profit, the one who purchase it, and the whom to whom it is purchased."

Any one of these ten roles is Haram.

4. With regard to your question about ethanol in fruit, this question is not clear... If you meant in the question the innate properties of fruit, when it ripens and is on the tree, and there was some of ethyl alcohol inherently present there, i.e. if an analysis of the components of an orange, for example, was carried out and found some ethanol ... If so, this has no effect, because alcohol here is not in a liquid intoxicant solution, it is in the solid fruit that is innately existing in it. Nevertheless, if the fruit that contains ethanol causes damage, it is not permissible to eat it according to the principle of damage. Ibn Majah reported from Ubadah Bin As-Samit: «أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، قَضَى أَنْ لَا ضَرَرَ وَلَا ضِرَارَ» "That the Messenger of Allah (saw) ruled that there is no damage and no causation of harm".

Otherwise, if you intended in the question other than this, then clarify it so that we are able to give you the answer, Allah willing.


Your brother,
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah


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