Does Alcohol Only Refer to Ethanol? (Shafi’i)

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I’ve been told that when talking about alcohol in the islamic context (khamr) we chemically only refer to “ethanol”.

Can we limit all rulings pertaining to khamr, like impurity, to ethanol (and substances with a similiar effect) only, according to the Shāfi’ī school? Does it matter how the substance has been manufactured ?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam, I pray you’re well insha’Allah.

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Every intoxicant is khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden.’ [Muslim].

In the Shafi’i school, the principle is that if a liquid is an intoxicant (muskir), then it takes the ruling of alcohol (khamr). This means that any liquid that intoxicates, falls under the ruling of alcohol. There is no differentiation between the source, name (ethanol or other), or manufacturing process of the alcohol.

For the Hanafi positions, please read here.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

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