Alcohol in food via fermentation

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is is permissible to eat foods that may contain a small percentage of alcohol via fermentation? I know yogurt and vinegar contain small amounts of alcohol via fermentation and are permissible. I am specifically referring to soy sauce. A popular brand of soysauce does not list alcohol as an ingedient. But the website of the company lists it containing a maximun of 2% alcohol that is created via fermentation. What is the legal ruling?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this finds you well, and in the best of health and spirits. May Allah grant you all good and success in this life and the next.

The incidental presence of alcohol (from non-wine sources) does not make an item haram, as long as it is:

[1] Not being used to intoxicate;

[2] Not being used in an amount that intoxicates;

[3] Not being used as intoxicants are used;

[4] Not being used for vain (i.e. useless) purposes.

This is the fatwa of leading Hanafi scholars of our times, based on the position of Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy on him) himself. It means that all consumption of alcohol as an intoxicant is haram; as is all use of alcohol in food items when the alcohol is being used because it is an intoxicant (e.g. rum in some dessert).

It would mean, however, that the incidental presence of alcohol in some items–such as soya sauce, or in some food items as part of some ingredients–would not be haram.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani


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