I would like to know if it is permissible to consume ethanol alcohol found in many food and sweet products as well as in some fizzy drinks ?
I would also like to kmow if it will be correct to consider it as Haraam ?
Firstly we would define ‘Ethanol’ so that we may understand the textual references and rulings of the Fuqaha that follow.
Wikipedia defines ethanol as follows. Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. A psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs known, ethanol produces a state known as alcohol intoxication when consumed. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a solvent, and as a fuel. In common usage it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.
In regards to the permissibility of ethanol we have quoted textual references from Hidaaya and Biyaana which is a commentary of Hidaaya, thus these are the rulings of the Fuqaha.
According to Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi Alaih, alcohol that is extracted from wheat, barley, honey, maize/corn, (which in simple terms includes ethanol) is Halaal and permissible to use. A person that consumes wine that has been manufactured from these sources (i.e. wheat, barley, honey, maize /corn, etc.) will not be given the Shari’ee Had (punishment) even though one had reached a state of intoxication.
However, according to Imaam Muhammad Rahmatullahi Alaih it is Haraam to consume such alcohol and if a person consumes an intoxicant that has been manufactured from these sources to such an extent that he is intoxicated then the Shari’ee Had (punishment for consuming alcohol) will be executed upon such a person. The Ulema have written that the Fatwa has been passed on the view of Imaam Muhammad Rahmatullahi Alaih due to Fasaad (corruption) being prevalent in our era.
According to the principles of Ifta it is necessary for one to follow the preponderant juristic view which is the view of Imaam Muhammad Rahmatullahi Alaih in the above mentioned Mas’ala hence ethanol will not be permissible for consumption in items which are consumed purely for pleasure such as beverages, fizzy drinks etc. and not regarded as necessities. Similarly, one should also refrain from consuming food items containing ethanol such as sweets and confectionary since these too are consumed for pleasure and there are many Halaal alternatives available on the market.
If ethanol has been used in medication (which is a necessity, especially when there is no other alternative available) then there is no harm in utilizing such medication.
وَقَالَ فِي الْجَامِعِ الصَّغِيرِ : وَمَا سِوَى ذَلِكَ مِنْ الْأَشْرِبَةِ فَلَا بَأْسَ بِهِ ) قَالُوا : هَذَا الْجَوَابُ عَلَى هَذَا الْعُمُومِ وَالْبَيَانِ لَا يُوجَدُ فِي غَيْرِهِ ، وَهُوَ نَصٌّ عَلَى أَنَّ مَا يُتَّخَذُ مِنْ الْحِنْطَةِ وَالشَّعِيرِ وَالْعَسَلِ وَالذُّرَةِ حَلَالٌ عِنْدَ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ ، وَلَا يُحَدُّ شَارِبُهُ عِنْدَهُ وَإِنْ سَكِرَ مِنْهُ ، ——- وَعَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ أَنَّهُ حَرَامٌ وَيُحَدُّ شَارِبُهُ وَيَقَعُ طَلَاقُهُ إذَا سَكِرَ مِنْهُ كَمَا فِي سَائِرِ الْأَشْرِبَةِ الْمُحَرَّمَةِ
(البناية فى شرح الهداية ص 104 ج15)
وعن محمد r انه حرام اي ان المتخذ من الحنطة والشعير والعسل والذرة حرام ويُحَدُّ شَارِبُهُ اذا سكر منه اي من المتخذ من هذه الاشياء— ان الفتوي على قول محمد r كذا ذكره الامام المحبوبى (البناية فى شرح الهداية ص 104 ج15)
قال الزيلعي وصاحب الملتقي ——ان الفتوي فى زماننا بقول محمد r لغابة الفساد—-
(البناية فى شرح الهداية ص 104 الخ)