Legally, products containing less
than ½ of 1% alcohol are not regarded as alcoholic, is it still considered
prohibited in Islam?
Ethanol is divided into 3 types:
1) Naturally formed ethanol,
found in very small quantities, in most fruits and plants.
2) Ethanol formed from the
carbohydrate fermentation process.
3) Ethanol formed from other
The scholars have agreed that the
first type of ethanol is not impure and is permissible to be consumed. This is
because the process of extracting ethanol extracts will damage the fruits or
plants that contain them.
They have also agreed that the
second type of ethanol is impure, even in a very small quantities or if it does
not cause intoxication..
This is based on the hadith of
the Prophet s.a.w :
"ماأسكر كثيره فقليله حرام"
Which means:: "anything that cause
intoxication in large quantity, then even a little is haram". (Narrated
by Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud and Ibn Majah)
The total prohibition is to
prevent from rampant consumption of liquor.
Therefore drinks or products that
are not alcoholic based on legal definitions but can cause intoxication are
still considered prohibited. This second type of ethanol is also considered to
be impure, and anything that has been mixed with it is impure and prohibited to
The scholars differs on the third
type of ethanol. However, most of them are of the opinion that it is not impure as it is
formed for industrial purpose and not for the purpose of drinking.
As Muslims, we must believe that
every commandment and decree from Allah is for our own good. God knows best
about us than ourselves. The knowledge we have is too little compared to the
Knowledge of God which is like a drop of water from the oceans of the entire
world and beyond that. And even a drop of water too comes from God.
The origin of the prohibition
comes from the Qur'an as in surah Al-Mai'dah, verse 3 which reads:
"حرمت عليكم الميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير وما أهل لغير الله به"
Which means: "It is
forbidden to you (eating) carcass, blood, pork, and (meat) slaughtered
mentioning name other than Allah has
Therefore as a Muslim, every
commandment and prohibition of God must be act upon without having doubts and
skepticism. We are encouraged to study, if possible, the reasons for such
commands and prohibitions. But it is not allowed that we begin to obey God's
commandments only after knowing the reason behind it. This is because we may
never know the reason behind the commandment of God as mentioned by Imam
Al-Ghazali;only the prophets would have knowledge on some of these reasons.
Alcohol is divided into 3 types:
1) Naturally formed ethanol, found in very small
quantities, in most fruits and plants.
2) Ethanol formed from the carbohydrate fermentation
3) Ethanol formed from other petro-chemicals.
The type of alcohol normally used in products of which
its purpose is not for consumption is made from industrial petro-chemicals and
not from the carbohydrate fermentation process. According to scholars, this
type of alcohol is not impure and can be used