Can I consume products with alcohol like kombucha, vanilla extract, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, or non-alcoholic beer? Can I use products that have alcohol in them like cologne or hand sanitizer?

Short Answer

Point 1: Alcoholic beverages (known as khamr in Arabic) such as beer, wine, vodka, and sake are forbidden to consume. Any other beverage which contains some alcohol, but cannot intoxicate you no matter how much you drink (see here), is not an alcoholic beverage. Therefore, kombucha, non-alcoholic beer, and soda all contain trace amounts of alcohol but cannot intoxicate you so they are fine to consume. There is alcohol even in regular foods we consume (hotdog buns 1.28% ABV, ripe bananas 0.2% ABV, and grape juice 0.09% ABV) but this alcohol does not make the product an alcoholic beverage or intoxicating food.

Point 2: Products like rice wine vinegar or chocolate liquor have the words “wine” or “liquor” in them but are not, and were not, alcoholic beverages in any way. Therefore, they are permissible to consume.

Point 3: Products like vanilla extract (35% ABV) and soy sauce (2% ABV) are not alcoholic beverages (khamr) and are not drunk by people. Although they contain higher amounts of alcohol, if you tried to get drunk off of them you would get very sick and perhaps die before you became drunk. Since they are not alcoholic beverages, and almost no one would ever use them to get intoxicated, and the final products they are mixed with (like ice cream or soup) cannot intoxicate you, they are fine to consume.

Point 4: Using wine or alcoholic beverages in cooking requires deeper analysis. If the final product cannot intoxicate you no matter how much you eat, such as beer battered fish, and you would die of fish overdose before becoming even a little intoxicated, then scholars differ. Most scholars have stated that alcoholic beverages are impure (najis) and therefore, even if these were significantly diluted into the food, they still cannot be consumed, unless it is completely evaporated in the cooking process. Putting half a teaspoon of wine into a giant cake mixture is like putting a spoon of urine in there. However, Imam Ibn Hazm (and Sh Ibn Uthaymin, and others) has argued that alcoholic beverages are not impure and therefore they can be consumed if they are completely diluted such that they cannot intoxicate in large amounts. For example, alcoholic candy can intoxicate you if you eat enough of it but white wine mustard cannot, so according to Ibn Hazm, the first is prohibited but the second is permissible.

Point 5: Alcohol in products like cologne, hand sanitizer, shampoo, and creams does not come from alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, or vodka. Therefore, it is not impure (najis) and can be used without any issue.

Advice

My personal view is that alcoholic beverages are not impure, but this is a minority view and it may be preferable to follow the view that it is.

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Shaykh Mustafa Umar