I have been hearing mixed fatawa on the issue of alcohol in food. Some foods — such as vanilla ice cream — contain very tiny amounts of alcohol from the vanilla extract which is used. If you ate tons of this food you there would still not be enough alcohol in the food to get you drunk. Is it permissible to eat these foods?
Sh. Uthaymeen gave a fatwa which said: \”If a small quantity of alcohol is so submerged in something else that is has no tangible or theoretical effect, then the substance keeps the ruling that is in accordance with its own attributes. As for the hadeeth that states ‘Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden\’, this refers to a certain beverage that intoxicates when someone drinks a lot of it but not when he drinks a little. It is unlawful to drink a small quantity of such a beverage, because even though a small quantity cannot make a person drunk, it can lead to drinking larger quantities.\” Also, a fatwa allowing this can be found on islamtoday.com
(http://www.islamtoday.com/showme2.cfm?cat_id=2&sub_cat_id=561) Jazzakum Allah Khair
All praise be to Allah and may His peace and blessings be on His final and greatest messenger, Muhammad.
It is important to know that khamr is not only Alcohol and Alcohol is not all khamr. The khamr that was present during the time of the messenger of Allah was made mainly of dates and grapes, thus the Hanafi scholars limit the use of the term khamr to drinks made of them, but they still forbid intoxication by any drink.
The majority of scholars and that is clearly the stronger position consider all intoxicants to be khamr, for the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said:
” ÙÙ Ù ÙØ³ÙÙÙØ± Ø®ÙÙ ÙØ± Ø ÙÙÙ Ù ÙØ³ÙÙÙØ±Ù ØÙØ±ÙØ§Ù .”
Every intoxicant is khamr and every intoxicant is haraam. [Reported by Muslim] Thus, the majority would consider haraam any amount of a beverage that intoxicates, whether it is fermented from cooked juices or from uncooked materials like honey, wheat, barley, millet, or figs. This is the right position based on the following hadeeth reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim:
Ø¹ÙÙÙ Ø£ÙØ¨ÙÙ Ù ÙÙØ³ÙÙ ÙÙØ§ÙÙ : Ø¨ÙØ¹ÙØ«ÙÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙÙÙØ¨ÙÙÙÙ ï² Ø£ÙÙÙØ§ ÙÙÙ ÙØ¹ÙØ§Ø°Ù Ø¨ÙÙÙ Ø¬ÙØ¨ÙÙÙ Ø¥ÙÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙÙÙÙ ÙÙÙ Ø ÙÙÙÙÙÙØªÙ : ÙÙØ§ Ø±ÙØ³ÙÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙÙÙÙÙ Ø Ø¥ÙÙÙÙ Ø´ÙØ±ÙØ§Ø¨ÙØ§ ÙÙØµÙÙÙØ¹Ù Ø¨ÙØ£ÙØ±ÙØ¶ÙÙÙØ§ ÙÙÙÙØ§ÙÙ ÙÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙÙ ÙØ²ÙØ±Ù Ù ÙÙÙ Ø§ÙØ´ÙÙØ¹ÙÙØ±Ù Ø ÙÙØ´ÙØ±ÙØ§Ø¨Ù ÙÙÙÙØ§ÙÙ ÙÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙØ¨ÙØªÙØ¹Ù Ù ÙÙÙ Ø§ÙÙØ¹ÙØ³ÙÙÙ Ø ÙÙÙÙØ§ÙÙ : ” ÙÙÙÙÙ Ù ÙØ³ÙÙÙØ±Ù ØÙØ±ÙØ§Ù Ù .”
Abu Musa said: The Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) sent me and Muadh ibn Jabal to al-Yaman, and I said: O Messenger of Allah, there is a drink that is made in our land called al-mizr, and made from barley, and another drink called al-bit, and made from honey. He (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: Every intoxicant is haraam.
At the time of the prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) solid or gaseous substances that cause intoxication were not known, so when they became first known (hashishah = cannabis) to the Muslim scholars, the most learned of them did not hesitate to include them under the terminology of khamr, so they became automatically forbidden by the textual proofs that forbid khamr, or at least they included them under the ruling of khamr by analogy (Qiyas).
Imam Ibn Taymeah said:
ÙØ£Ù Ø§ Ø§ÙÙ ØÙÙÙÙ Ù Ù Ø§ÙÙÙÙØ§Ø¡ ÙØ¹ÙÙ ÙØ§ Ø£ÙÙØ§ [Ø§ÙØØ´ÙØ´Ø©] Ù Ø³ÙØ±Ø© Ø ÙØ¥ÙÙ Ø§ ÙØªÙØ§ÙÙÙØ§ Ø§ÙÙØ¬Ø§Ø± Ø ÙÙ Ø§ ÙÙÙØ§ Ù Ù Ø§ÙÙØ´ÙØ© ÙØ§ÙØ·Ø±Ø¨ Ø ÙÙÙ ØªØ¬Ø§Ù Ø¹ Ø§ÙØ´Ø±Ø§Ø¨ Ø§ÙÙ Ø³ÙØ± ÙÙ Ø°ÙÙ. ÙØ§ÙØ®Ù Ø± ØªÙØ¬Ø¨ Ø§ÙØØ±ÙØ© ÙØ§ÙØ®ØµÙÙ Ø© Ø ÙÙØ°Ù ØªÙØ¬Ø¨ Ø§ÙÙØªÙØ± ÙØ§ÙÙØ°Ø© Ø ÙÙÙÙØ§ Ù Ø¹ Ø°ÙÙ Ù Ù ÙØ³Ø§Ø¯ Ø§ÙÙ Ø²Ø§Ø¬ ÙØ§ÙØ¹ÙÙ Ø ÙÙØªØ Ø¨Ø§Ø¨ Ø§ÙØ´ÙÙØ© Ø ÙÙ Ø§ ØªÙØ¬Ø¨Ù Ù Ù Ø§ÙØ¯ÙØ§Ø«Ø© Ù Ù Ø§ ÙØ¬Ø¹ÙÙØ§ Ù Ù Ø´Ø± Ø§ÙØ´Ø±Ø§Ø¨ Ø§ÙÙ Ø³ÙØ± Ø ÙØ¥ÙÙ Ø§ ØØ¯Ø«Øª ÙÙ Ø§ÙÙØ§Ø³ Ø¨ØØ¯ÙØ« Ø§ÙØªØªØ§Ø±. ÙØ¹ÙÙ ØªÙØ§ÙÙ Ø§ÙÙÙÙÙ Ù ÙÙØ§ ÙØ§ÙÙØ«ÙØ± ØØ¯ Ø§ÙØ´Ø±Ø¨ Ø Ø«Ù Ø§ÙÙÙ Ø³ÙØ·Ø§ Ø Ø£Ù Ø£Ø±Ø¨Ø¹ÙÙ Ø¥Ø°Ø§ ÙØ§Ù Ù Ø³ÙÙ Ø§ ÙØ¹ØªÙØ¯ ØªØØ±ÙÙ Ø§ÙÙ Ø³ÙØ± ”
The verifying scholars recognized that it [hashish=cannabis] is an intoxicant, and only consumed by the wicked, because of the euphoria it brings, so, it is like intoxicating drinks. Khamr causes increased energy and quarrels, whereas this causes lassitude and enjoyment, but it still has the characteristics of corrupting the mood and intoxicating the mind as well as exacerbating lustful desires and causing one to have no jealousy for his household. All of this would make it even worse than intoxicating drinks. This [the appearance of hashish in Muslim lands] came along with the advent of the Tatars. The one who consumes a little or a lot of it deserves the punishment prescribed for drinking: eighty or forty lashes, if he were a Muslim who believes in the prohibition of intoxicants. [al-Fatawa al-Kubra: 3/423]
The position of giving all drugs the name of khamr is stronger and supported by the Prophets saying Every intoxicant is khamr.
That is the first part that needed clarification, which is that khamr refers to all intoxicants.
As for Alcohol, there are so many types of Alcohol. The Alcohol that was present in the khamr during the time of the Messenger of Allah, and in modern time alcoholic beverages is Ethyl Alcohol, or more precisely, Ethanol.
The word Alcohol was not used during the time of the Messenger, and we need to know some about it to clarify any confusion that may result in mistaken judgment.
Obviously, and as admitted by the western scientists, the word has an Arabic origin. The al in alcohol indicates the Arabic descent, for al- in Arabic is a definite article corresponding to the in English.
The origin of the word cohol may have to do with kuhl, which is a fine powder mostly made of antimony, and was mainly used in cosmetics. It could also have come from Ghawl//Ghool, a word used in the Quran to refer to the after effects of wine.
Alcohol is made from natural product processing, such as the fermentation of carbohydrates or reductive cleavage of natural fats and oils, or manufactured from petroleums hydrocarbons. So, not all Alcohol is made by the fermentation of carbohydrates like the case during the Prophets time.
Alcohols are derivatives of hydrocarbons in which one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by a hydroxyl (-OH) functional group. Hydrocarbons are compounds which contain hydrogen (H) and carbon (C) only. There are many types of Alcohol, such as Ethyl Alcohol (the type present in alcoholic beverages), Methanol, which is used in various products, such as anti-freeze, Glycol and Iso-Propyl Alcohol, which are toxic and intoxicant, but there are types of Alcohol, such as the completely denatured Alcohols, which are not intoxicant, because Alcohol simply means hydroxylated hydrocarbons. It is always safe however to consider all Alcohols intoxicant, whether they are natural or synthetic, because the very vast majority of Alcohols is.
Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin. Pure vanilla extract is made by extracting from vanilla beans in an alcoholic solution. In order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the FDA requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon. This extract is then added in small amounts to ice cream and other food products.
The ruling depends on a few factors:
• First, If a large quantity of a substance intoxicates, then a small quantity of that substance is forbidden. Conversely, if the large quantity did not intoxicate, then that substance is not forbidden for the reason of intoxication. That is confirmed by the following hadeeth
” Ù Ø§ Ø£Ø³ÙÙÙØ± ÙÙØ«ÙØ±ÙÙ ÙÙÙÙÙÙÙÙ ØÙØ±ÙØ§Ù ” “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden.”
[Related by Abu Dawood, an-Nasaey and others authentically]
Now, does the ice cream made with vanilla extract intoxicate? No one would say that. So, when does it become an intoxicant? If you extract the Alcohol from that extract in the ice cream and isolate it, then it becomes intoxicant and forbidden to consume even if it were trivial in amount, because more of the same will result in intoxication.
• Second, would the mixing of Alcohol with the food products make them impermissible or filth? According to the stronger position (of the minority), Alcohol is not physical filth. Thus, it doesnt turn the mixture into filth. Even, if it was filth, submersion in a large quantity of tahir (pure substance) according to the stronger position, will not affect the ruling of the pure substance unless one the characteristics of Alcohol prevailed (color, smell or taste).
Does mixing it with another substance change the ruling of the new substance even if it was not filth? Yes, if it made the new substance intoxicant.
• Third, would it be permissible for Muslims to add Alcohol to food products? No – as in the case of turning Alcohol into Vinegar – that would not be permissible for Muslims, though, it would be permissible for them to consume it if it was added by others, and most certainly if it occurred naturally in a food (even bread goes through fermentation) so long as the consumed substance is not intoxicant even in large quantities.
Based on the aforementioned, we believe that it is permissible to use food products that contain the vanilla extract.
I hope this answer is satisfactory.
Allah knows best.