taught by Yasir Qadhi
Section 3: Miscellaneous Issues
We are going to mention a few issues here that are often forgotten in the books of halaal and haraam, such as the issue of alcohol in food or gelatin.
In YQ’s opinion, the majority of the products labelled as haraam are not actually haraam. Overzealous people – good intentioned though they may be – label them as haraam.
The Status of Alcohol
The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities is prohibited in small quantities.” [An Nasaa`i]
We begin by defining alcohol in Islam. One of the biggest blunders of the overzealous haram labelers is that they confuse the shar’i alcohol and alcohol according to organic chemistry. Anything with an OH radical is considered alcohol [chemically speaking, that is]. According the shari’ah, just because something is called an alcohol chemically, that does NOT make it haram alcohol.
According to the shari’ah, alcohol is that which intoxicates. Most alcohols do not intoxicate. Some alcohols will kill you, but they won’t intoxicate you. Ethanol alcohol is intoxicating. Methanol will NOT intoxicate you; it will kill you.
Khamr is that which clouds the mind, intoxicates; in English, you get drunk off of it.
If there is a trace amount of khamr in a product, and you were to drink 20 glasses and you were not to become intoxicated, then that is not considered khamr. A classic example of this: grape juice. You cannot have a bottle of grape juice without having SOME fermentation at the bottom. This won’t make the grape juice haram. You can consume 5 bottles of grape juice and still not be intoxicated 🙂
Beer intoxicates after 5, 10, 15 glasses [depending on the individual], therefore a spoonful of beer is haram.
Is Khamr Najas?
If it is haram to eat and drink, it is haram to apply on your body? Is khamr Najas [filthy]? What if it’s in our perfumes, or in our mouthwash? If we say khamr is najas, we cannot use it; it would be in the same category as urine or stool iyyaoothubillah!
Scholars have differed over this:
- Those who say khamr is najas. Pretty much everyone has this opinion: Shafi’ee, Maliki, Hambali, Dhahiris, Hanafis. This has been the mainstream standard position for the last 14 centuries of the Ummah. The evidence:
- Allah calls khamr rijis (filthy) in Al Maa`idah, 90.
- A sahabi asking if you could use the plates and utensils of the people of the book, because they eat pig and drink wine. The prophet said to wash before using. This shows wine is najas.
- Allah prohibited khamr in the strictest of matters: selling grapes to the winemaker, even! So if wine is prohibited this strictly, it must be najas.
- When speaking of the wine of Jannah, Allah says when describing it: “their Lord will give them a tahur (pure and it purifies; highest level of purity) wine to drink.”
- Khamr is not najas. It has always been a minority, but the people who have held this opinion have always been heavy weights 🙂 Some are: Al muzani, main student of shafi’ee, dawood adh-dhahiri, the Indian descendants of ash Showkaani – siddeeq Hasan khan (founder of Ahl al Hadith movement), Ahmed Shafi’ee of Egypt, Ibn ‘Uthaymeen… Their evidence:
- You have not proven khamr is najas. The general rule is that all products are pure unless proven otherwise. And you all have not proven it is najas.
- The response to 1: are poker chips najas? No. Are idols physically najas? No. rijis does not mean najas. Rijs means spiritually filthy.
- Not every haram is najas. Poison is haram, but it isn’t najas. Just because you have to wash the dishes doesn’t mean the wine is najas. The hadith means you can’t TASTE the khamr.
- Idolatry is forbidden in even stricter terms, but the idols are not najas.
- The wine of jannah will be tahoor; in this world it is taahir.
- There is a hadith in which the sahabah threw the wine in the streets when it was made haraam. Are you allowed to throw najas into the street and people walk in it? If it were najas, could they have thrown it in the street, where people could walk? The very fact that they threw it in the streets, and not in the restrooms, is an evidence that the sahabah never thought of it as najas.
Although this opinion was a minority in the Ummah until now, it is being revived now.
A simple rule of thumb to remember: Not every haram is najas, but every najas is haram.
If it is not Najas, is it ok to ingest?
Many medicines have quantities of intoxicating alcohols in them and there are no other alternatives. If your life depends on it, then it is allowed for you to drink. What about Robittusin? It has a high level of ethanol.
Why is there alcohol in the medicine? Is it there to intoxicate? No. It is there as a medium for the drug to get from the medicine into your stomach. It is not khamr per se. At the same time, it is not haraam because it doesn’t intoxicate. It may be makruh.
What about brandy put into food for flavoring? Many people believe that the alcohol evaporates. IT DOES NOT. A lot of it remains. They add it for the taste, so of course it must remain!
If the quantity is negligible, then we can forget it. Homeopathy has not been proven medically yet, but those who believe in it take pills that have quantities of ethanol in them. You can swallow the entire bottle and it will not intoxicate you. Therefore, the medicine would not be haraam.
Denatured alcohol is an alcohol that has been chemically altered so that you cannot get high off of it. Therefore, if you cannot get high off of it, it is not khamr.
Pure ethanol that is used to sterilize things is not khamr. You may go blind if you drink it! 🙂
 Islam classifies drinks into three:
- Tahur: pure and purifies
- Tahir: pure, but doesn’t purify. Example: coffee, coke, etc.
 Was a student in Yemen. His teacher was a hard core ahl al hadith. He studied under students of showkaani. The version of theology he spread in India was very strict. This is why ahl al hadith are thought to be very hard core.