Are Medicines that Contain Alcohol Permissible?

Question:

Asalamo-alaikum

Could you clarify whether alcohol in medicine is permitted in our madhaab and what are the evidences for this and the conditions?

Answer:

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

All praise is to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. And, prayers and salutations are on the Prophet Muhammad.

The Sultan of the Scholars, Al-Izz b. Abd al-Salam mentioned regarding using impurities for medicinal purposes that it is permissible when no other pure substance can stand in its place. This is because the advantage of recovery and health is greater than avoiding impurities. Then he stated that according to the relied-upon view using liquid intoxicants [khamr] medicinally is impermissible. (Qawaid al-Ahkam fi Islah al-Anam 1/132)

In his Fatawa, Ibn Hajar drew a distinction between the medicinal use of pure [bi sirfiha] liquid intoxicants and that which has been mixed with other ingredients [bi makhlutiha]. He mentioned that the second type is permissible, while the first is not. (al-Fatawa al-Kubra al-Fiqhiyyah 1/28)

Perhaps, the khilaf in the School pertains to using liquid intoxicants as medicine; but not necessarily to using medicines containing liquid intoxicants. (Mughni al-Muhtaj 5/518; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 9/170)

Khatib mentions that antidotes concocted [tiryaq ma’jun] with it are permissible when there is no substitute. Also, it should be anticipated that the medicine will speed up one’s recovery, either by a doctor’s recommendation or through one’s own knowledge. (Ibid)

In conclusion, it is unlawful to consume liquid intoxicants, even under the pretense of medicinal reason or health benefit. Currently, some medicines prescribed or sold over-the-counter contain alcohol, and likewise other impurities. It is permissible for a sick person to use these medicines when there is not a pure substitute available and it must be anticipated that the medicine will in fact speed up recovery.

And, Allah knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.