INTOXICANTS ARE HARAAM
QUESTION: on the question of soft drinks containing alcohol, some Ulama are of the view that alcohol which is not grape extract is permissible. The Ulama who hold this view contend that:
• If the alcohol is neither from dates nor grapes it is permissible.
• Imaam Muhammad's view of prohibition does not apply to soft drinks because the factors found in intoxicants are not in soft drinks.
The claim that non-grape and non-date alcohols are permissible has come as a great surprise to many who have read the fatwa issued by the Ulama who hold that soft drinks are permissible. The categoric fatwa proclaiming non-grape and non-date alcohol permissible has far reaching consequences and repercussions which I as a layman can foresee. Whiskey, vodka, champagne, all beers and most varieties of wines and liquors contain ethanol or non-grape and non-date alcohol. on the basis of the fatwa of permissibility of ethanol, it follows that all forms of wines if taken in small quantities which do not intoxicate will be permissible. Please comment and clarify the confusion caused by this fatwa of permissibility of ethanol.
ANSWER: RASULULLAH (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) said that as Qiyaamah draws near, liquor will be made lawful by dubbing it with fancy names. The initial stage for such legalization of liquor has already commenced. And this process, sad to say, has been initiated by the Ulama of this time. Whereas in former times Ulama closed the slightest avenue from which haraam and corruption could enter, in these times in proximity to Qiyaamah, some Ulama have adopted a diametrically opposite stand. Instead of closing avenues of haraam and corruption, they not only open such avenues, but actively foster and defend such processes which constitute the introductory steps to haraam.
Every Muslim with a little intelligence will understand the purport of the following Hadith: "Every intoxicant is haraam." And, every clear-thinking Muslim who has no vested interest or axe to grind or who has no allegience to an organisation other that the Shariah or who is unbiased will readily understand the meaning of the following Hadith: "Whatever of a great quantity intoxicates, a lesser quantity of that substance is (also) haraam."
Ethanol (the non-grape and non-date alcohol) is the intoxicating agent in all liquors which contain this substance. Take away the alcohol, and the whiskey, champagne, etc. will cease to be liquor. All contain ethanol. All these drinks have been converted into wine/liquor by ethanol. on the basis of the 'fatwa' of permissibility it will follow that a few drops of whisky added to a glass of water or any other lawful drink will not render that drink haraam because the whisky contains ethanol, not grape alcohol and not date alcohol.
Some beers contain the same minute percentage of ethanol alcohol as soft drinks, yet thus far none of those who say ethanol is permissible has ventured to say that beer is halaal although that time is not far off when beer and wines will be openly declared 'halaal' based on the ethanol permissibility fatwa. If a few drops of beer or vodka or whisky will render water or any syrup or drink haraam, there is no logical reason for claiming that any drink besides known beers, which contain ethyl alcohol is halaal. By the same token if a soft drink with a small quantity of ethyl alcohol can be halaal then a beer with a small quantity of ethyl alcohol will also be halaal. The issue is not whether soft drinks intoxicate or not. Beer like Barbican and others do not intoxicate and cannot intoxicate on account of the minute quantity of ethanol it contains. Regardless of the quantity, intoxicants are haraam. Whether the intoxicant is in beer or soft drinks (Barbican too is a soft drink) it is haraam and will render the drink haraam.
The claim regarding Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh) is very misleading. The illustrious Hanafi Fuqahaa of the past 13 centuries were all aware of all the arguments of Imaam Abu Hanifa, Imaam Abu Yusuf and Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayhim). Inspite of their thorough knowledge of the arguments of these Fuqahaa, the fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab for the past 13 hundred years has been on the ruling of Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh). Why do these Ulama in this belated age seek to override the Fatwa or the 13 century old Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab for the sake of Coke? And, in the process of trying to abrogate this Fatwa they are opening a wide door of fitnah and corruption by providing 'proofs' for the permissibility of alcohol – liquor and beer.
The Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab remains valid and in full force even today and so it will remain until the end of earthly time. No one has the authority to override this 13 hundred year old Fatwa by attempting to water it down with the assertion that it is Imaam Muhammad's ruling/view in conflict with the view of Imaam Abu Hanifah. People of Ilm should understand the operation of the principles of the Math-hab. They should not attempt to detract from the gravity and importance of the Fatwa of the hurmat (prohibition) of all types of alcohol by simply attributing the prohibition to Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh). In so doing they are rendering a great disservice to the Deen and are unconsciously constituting the category of men who come within the scope of the Hadith which predicts the legalization of liquor.
It should be noted that the scope for the permissibility of using non-grape and non-date alcohol applies to medicines and non-edibles. In view of the difference of opinion among the Fuqahaa regarding the types of alcohol, the latitude in its use is restricted to essentials. The permissibility cannot be extended to non-essential consumables which in fact are harmful for the health. There is thus no scope whatever for proclaiming soft drinks permissible on the basis of the ikhtilaaf (difference) of opinion. It is indeed the height of folly, to say the least, to upset the Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab, viz. Imaam Muhammand's view for a physically ruinous substance such as coke. It is extremely irresponsible to reject the 13 century Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab and open a wide doorway for future 'legalization' of liquor purely for the sake of consuming a drinks which wrecks the physical health. one small bottle of soft drink contains 12 teaspoons of sugar. Wisdom and responsibility demand that in so far as coke and soft drinks in general are concerned, only the view of Imaam Muhammad be entertained.