بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Is it permissible to use alcohol in the preparation of medicines and perfume?

Alcohol is a chemical composition (formula) that includes hydroxyl (OH) group, which is intoxicating. In the light of the verses from the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there is a consensus within the Muslim community that drinking of alcohol (referred to as Khumr in Arabic and wine in English) is forbidden, regardless of the quantity of consumption. Earlier, alcohol was made by fermentation of various items, for instance, grapes. That alcohol is called as “local or vernacular alcohol”. At present, alcohol is prepared by utilizing modern technology and is called as “English wine”. However, as per the dictates of Shariah, both the varieties come under the same clause; anything that causes intoxication, its consumption, business transactions/deals related to it, buying shares of a company associated with it, working for/with a company in any capacity that produces alcohol, all such activities are strictly forbidden. There are few individuals who get so habitual of drinking alcohol that consumption in little quantities does not intoxicate them at all. For those individuals, the learned scholars of the Muslim community have categorically explained that in case a person drinks something for the first time and gets intoxicated, it will fall under the category of alcohol.

There may be few benefits associated with drinking alcohol but from a holistic point of view, its injurious side is way more significant. This is testified by our experience of watching the terrible condition of those who get addicted to alcohol. The point is that He, who has created human, jinn and all the universe, has forbidden the entire human race from drinking alcohol. What it implies is that drinking of alcohol is disobedience of Allah, one of the seven major sins that ruin the human being.

In several modern medicines, alcohol is mixed or used in preparation and formulation as a stabiliser or preservative, or for the cure of some disease. For instance, there is alcohol in most of the medicines prescribed for asthma or breathing problems. In the preparation of most of the homeopathic medicines too alcohol is used. This alcohol is a little different from the one used for drinking purposes. Similarly, in the preparation of perfumes too alcohol is used. Now the question that arises before us is that, is it permissible to use medicines and perfumes in which alcohol is used. The learned scholars of our community have remarked that in case it is possible to avoid the medicines that contain alcohol, which is to say that there are alternatives for them in the market, then they should not be used. If an alternative is not available, then such medicines can be used because the alcohol used in medicine is in meagre quantity and is also different from the drinking alcohol, as per the information provided by the experts. So, in the case of medicine, the objective is not to drink alcohol. Similarly, we can also use all those alcohol-based medicines that are used for cleaning the body; the highly volatile spirit that is used before and after an injection shot or extracting of blood through in injection.

In the case of most of the homeopathic medicines, alcohol is used for their stability as well as preservation. However, the alcohol used for that purpose is in very small amount. Homeopathic medicine is all about just few drops that are dropped on small pills made of sugar, water and milk. In those few drops, the quantity of alcohol is very little and is much lighter as compared to the drinking alcohol. This is the reason why the learned scholars of our community have said that homeopathic medicines can be used.

Well, as far as the matter of perfumes is concerned, one can easily avoid using them. Therefore, it is only better for us to not use perfumes that have alcohol in them because non-alcoholic perfumes (’Itr) can easily be found everywhere. However, the learned scholars of our community have argued that the alcohol used in perfumes [made of Hydroxyl (-OH)] has not been specifically prohibited in either the Holy Quran or in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Its prohibition is based on the learned scholars’ independent reasoning (Ijtihad). Moreover, the usage of these perfumes has become quite common these days. Therefore, it is maintained that usage of perfumes containing alcohol is not forbidden but, for the sake of our well-being, we should avoid using them.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (