Answered by Moulana Javed ibn Nazir Kachhalia
Is it true in the hanafi fiqh non khamr alcohols such as ethanol (corn derived) are permissible for external application e.g in creams and internal consumption e.g in sweets as long as they are in minute quantities barely there, not meant for intoxication and do not intoxicate even if the product is consumed in large quantities?
It should be remembered that, alcohol extracted from grapes, dates and barley is decisively unlawful (haram), both its oral intake as well as application, for it is considered to be impure (najis). This type of alcohol is known as Khamr (wine), and it will be unlawful to even consume one drop of such alcohol.
If the alcohol used in creams, perfumes and deodorants are extracted from sources such as grapes or dates, then it will not be permissible to use. Other than that, as is in most cases chemical alcohol is used, such products would be permissible to use. However piety is that even those are avoided. (Fatawa Haqqaniyyah p.199 v.5)
Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani states in Takmila Fath al-Mulhim: “The ruling with regards to the various types of alcohol, the usage of which has become widespread and they are used in many medicines and perfumes, becomes known, in that if the alcohol is extracted from grapes or dates, then there is no question of it being permissible or pure. However, if the alcohol is derived from other than grapes or dates, then there is no problem according to the view of Imam Abu Hanifa, in that it will not be unlawful to use such alcohol for medical or other lawful purposes as long as the alcohol does not reach the level of intoxication…. And normally the alcohol used in medicines, perfumes, etc is not extracted from grapes and dates, rather it is derived from seeds, honey, chemicals, petrol, etc. (Vol 3, P608)
The conclusion we can come to is that it will be permissible to use medicines made out of alcohol.
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Written by Moulana Javed ibn Nazir Kachhalia
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.