ADDENDUM: LIQUOR (WINE) – THE PROCESS OF HALAALIZATION

(Compiled and abridged from the works of Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai)

WARNING AND NASEEHAT FOR MUFTIS

The function of a Mufti is to strengthen the servant’s bond with Allah Ta’ala. It is most despicable for a Mufti to dig out from the kutub obscurities or technicalities or differences which open up the gateway for fitnah, fisq and fujoor, and which weaken the Muslim’s bond with Allah Ta’ala, and also destroys his physical health. Furthermore, a Mufti should not search for concessions and technicalities to issue fatwas of jawaaz (rulings of permissibility) to sustain his own weaknesses and indulgence.

For example, when one senior Mufti Sahib was asked about drinking Fanta, he responded: “This bandah drinks Fanta.” That the “Bandah drinks Fanta”, is not a fatwa should be abundantly clear. The Mufti Sahib had also committed khiyaanat (abuse of trust) by abstaining from issuing a proper, valid Shar’i Fatwa, and by issuing a statement of drivel to cover his own weakness and indulgence. It is the Mufti’s personal problem drinking Fanta. He grievously erred with his endeavour to pass off his own act of weakness as a Shar’i Fatwa.

A Mufti should be far-sighted and a man of Taqwa. If he lacks Taqwa, he should go cut grass or wash cars for a living. He should not sit on the throne of a Darul Ifta and mislead the servants of Allah Ta’ala like the proverbial fox who led a flock of small animals into his den, then devoured them all. A Mufti who lacks Taqwa is totally unfit for the Department of Ifta’. He has no right to issue fatwas. He is a khaa-in (treacherous abuser of amaanat), a robber of Imaan and a destroyer of Akhlaaq.

Coke, Pepsi and the myriad of soft drinks are not essential items of life. If a Carrion Halaalizer proclaims these drinks ‘halaal’ it is quite understandable. SANHA’s objective is the haraam boodle which its haraam certificate trade nets. The Haraam ruling deprives the Carrion Purveyor from substantial haraam revenue, hence there is no surprise when SANHA resorts to issuing rubbish ‘fatwas’ of permissibility. But when a Mufti sitting in a Darul Ifta recklessly issues fatwas of jawaaz on the basis of technicalities, obscurities, grey arguments, personal weakness and self-indulgence, then he conducts himself like the proverbial fox. A Mufti should reflect deeply and endeavour to encompass the consequences of his fatwas.

On an issue such as these ruinous soft drinks, it should be understood that a fatwa of permissibility is a licence firstly for ruining the physical health of the whole community. Secondly, it opens the gateway for halaalization of all non-khamr liquors. After halaalizing ethanol-containing soft drinks, there is no logical reason for saying that ethanol-containing non-khamr liquors taken in small quantities are haraam.

On the basis of the soft drink fatwa of permissibility, vodka, gin, whisky and the innumerable other kinds of non-khamr liquors will logically become ‘halaal’.  With his fatwa of jawaaz, the Mufti is laying the ground for producing a community of diseased alcoholics, and liquor-traders. Bottlestores and pubs are extremely lucrative avenues for earning haraam boodle. In Egypt fatwas have already been issued to halaalize bottlestores. The Muftis in South Africa will soon follow suit.

It is vital and imperative that the Fatwa of Prohibition issued by the Four Math-habs from the age of Khairul Quroon be retained intact. It is indeed tragic that Muftis who are supposed to be the guardians of the Shariat, and men who have the best moral, spiritual and physical interests of the Ummah in mind, are failing to take lesson from the concern of non-Muslim medical experts who have researched soft drinks and have conclusively established the destruction these haraam drinks wrought on the human body. It is highly irresponsible for a Mufti to issue a fatwa of permissibility simply on the basis of the ethanol in soft drinks being non-khamr…

A FEW ARGUMENTS OF THE LEGALIZERS

“Your fruit salad at home would yield similar results [of trace alcohol content]. However no one advances the argument that fruits are haraam.”

The stupid logic behind this statement is that if coke, etc. are haraam on the basis of the alcohol content, then likewise should the Ulama proclaim fruit to be haraam because technology establishes minute traces of alcohol even in fruit.

This argument is baseless, firstly because Allah Ta’ala has made fruit halaal, irrespective of tests establishing the presence of alcohol in fruits. The coke argument may not be extended to what Allah Ta’ala has made halaal. Even if the alcohol content is confirmed in fruit by means of stupid tests, the fruit will remain halaal simply because Allah Ta’ala has made it halaal and tayyib.

On the other hand, if the fruit ferments – gets rotten – and becomes intoxicating, then in terms of Allah’s Law it will be haraam on account of the intoxicating element. Soft drinks may not be argued on the basis of fruit because the alcohol used to make these drinks is haraam by Allah’s law.

Pure haraam alcohol concentrates are used to manufacture soft drinks. The alcohol used is haraam, hence the resultant drink is not permissible. For the edification of the modernists it has to be said that we cannot proclaim fruit to be haraam even if an alcohol content is confirmed because whoever claims that Allah’s halaal fruit is haraam becomes a kaafir.

In terms of Islamic jurisprudence there are two distinct types of alcohol. One is deemed to be intrinsically impure and totally forbidden to use such as wine, sherry, cognac and the like. The other is ethanol derived from molasses, coal etc. which is not deemed an impurity and would only be deemed unlawful if used in intoxicating applications.” 

Juxtaposing ethanol as the opposite of sherry, cognac, etc. conspicuously demonstrates the stupidity of the modernists. There is absolutely no basis in the Shariah – in Islamic jurisprudence – for differentiating between sherry and ethanol. Sherry, vodka, whisky, gin, etc. are haraam intoxicants on account of their ethanol content.

This claim that ethanol is halaal leads to the inevitable conclusion that sherry and whisky consumed in small quantities which do not intoxicate will be halaal. This is the corruption of this stupid contention which seeks to present ethanol as the opposite of sherry, cognac, etc.

What is ethanol?

“Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient of many beverages, the production of which involves a fermentation process, and the word alcohol is often used to describe the ethyl alcohol content of such beverages.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

“Ethyl alcohol: the intoxicating agent in fermented and distilled liquors…..Ethanol also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colourless liquid.” (Wikipedia)

Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient in all liquors regardless of the raw material from which it is manufactured. Ethanol is not wine. Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient in wine. Thus, it is ethanol which makes sherry, gin, whisky, vodka and the thousand other kinds of liquors intoxicating and haraam. Minus ethanol, no drink is intoxicating, and minus ethanol no drink is wine or liquor. There is no wine and liquor called ethanol. Ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient in all wines and liquors whether it be grape wine or liquor made from molasses, wheat, fruit, or from any of the other myriad of substances.

All liquors contain the intoxicating ingredient called ethanol. The stupid averment that “Islamic Jurisprudence” differentiates between sherry, cognac, etc. on the one side and ethanol on the other side is an exhibition of the modernists’ gross ignorance. It is an argument which is hilariously ludicrous since ethanol is not a wine.

Sherry, cognac, vodka, whisky, gin, etc., are haraam on account of their ethanol content. Similarly, coke, co-ee, pepsi and the myriad of other so-called ‘soft drinks’ are haraam because of their ethanol content. Regardless of the raw material from which ethanol is derived, it is haraam because it is an intoxicating ingredient. It is the actual devil which causes drunkenness which transforms a human being into a swine.

In which kitaab is it mentioned that “ethanol” is a pure substance? No kitaab of Fiqh mentions this stupidity which the modernists attempt to beguile the masses. Whilst mention is made of a difference between khamr and non-khamr liquors, there is no mention of ethanol. Both kinds of liquor, khamr and non-khamr, contain the intoxicating ingredient known as ethanol.

Whilst according to the small minority view non-khamr liquor is taahir (not impure/napaak), and not sinful if consumed in small quantities, not to produce intoxication, nor taken for feeling a little light-headed or for pleasure, the Fatwa of the FOUR Math-habs is on the hurmat of all kinds of alcohol regardless of the raw materials from which they are made.

All liquors, not only wines, according to all FOUR Math-habs are in the category of khamr as the Hadith categorically states:

“Every intoxicant is khamr and every khamr is haraam.”

Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said:

“Whatever befogs the mind is khamr.”

Thus, regardless of the raw material from which ethanol is made, the beverage to which this intoxicant is added becomes haraam in the same category as khamr as far as drinking is concerned.

“Ethanol would only be deemed unlawful if used in intoxicating applications.”

This averment clearly illustrates the jahaalat of the modernists. Firstly, there is no view in the Shariah which says that ethanol is haraam only if taken in quantities which intoxicate. There is no mention of ethanol in the Shariah. The reference is to liquor. Liquor, not grape wine, is the subject of some difference.

However, the minority view – very small minority – has been overshadowed and set aside by the consensus of the Four Math-habs and this prohibition has been the law of the Shariah since the era of Khairul Quroon. It is haraam in this belated age for anyone to dig out the obscure and minority view and to present it in refutation of the fourteen-century Ruling of the Shariah Furthermore, the minority difference applies to only the Hanafi Math-hab. Whereas there is no difference on the issue of intoxicants among the other three Math-habs, there is a difference in the Hanafi Math-hab.

However, the Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab has always been on the view of Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh), a view which coincides with the view of the other three Math-habs, viz. all alcohol is haraam and impure regardless of whether it is wine or liquor – grape wine or liquor made from any other substance. There is absolutely no scope in the Hanafi Math-hab nor in any other Math-hab for revoking the Ijmaa-ee (unanimous) Fatwa of the Four Math-habs, to issue a fatwa of permissibility for the sake of halaalizing harmful and poisonous drinks such as coke, pepsi and the numerous other so-called ‘soft drinks’. Neither is it valid to invoke the principle of Necessities make permissible prohibitions.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) stated explicitly:

“Whatever in a big quantity intoxicates, a small quantity of it is also haraam.”

On the basis of the modernists’ stupid argument, a small quantity of sherry, vodka, gin, etc. will be halaal and pure because it does not intoxicate. No one will get drunk if a teaspoon of whisky is added to a glass of water and drunk as a ‘tonic’. In fact, most people will not become drunk even if they consume a whole glass of liquor.

According to such twisted logic, small quantities of these liquors should be halaal because they are not wine (khamr), they are liquor. It should be understood that these non-khamr beverages are not ethanol. They are intoxicating liquor containing ethanol which is the intoxicating ingredient, and so does khamr too contain ethanol.

If coke and Pepsi are halaal, there is no logical grounds for proclaiming sherry, gin and vodka to be haraam since all of these drinks contain ethanol, hence in terms of the modernists’ logic all these non-khamr liquors should be halaal if consumed in small quantities which do not intoxicate.

“Soft drinks cannot intoxicate no matter how much you drink and are not considered Haraam, even if they contain flavourants which have residual levels of ethanol. The prohibition for Muslims is not to indulge in intoxicant beverages.” 

Ethanol is beyond the slightest vestige of doubt an intoxicant. It is the intoxicating ingredient which makes all wines and liquors haraam. Whether coke intoxicates or not is not the argument. The contention is that it contains an intoxicant which does intoxicate if used in a big quantity. And, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that even a small quantity of an intoxicant is haraam regardless of it not intoxicating due to the small amount ingested.

The modernists will soon apply the very same warped carrion logic to halaalize a small quantity of gin and vodka because small quantities of these ethanol drinks do not intoxicate. Why would soft drinks containing ethanol be halaal while a teaspoon of ethanol-whiskey and vodka be haraam? Both will not intoxicate. On the basis of proclaiming ethanol-containing soft drinks halaal, there is no logical reason for saying that ethanol-containing liquors taken in small non-intoxicating quantities are haraam.

In fact, halaalizing ethanol-containing soft drinks is opening up the gateway for the wholesale halaalization of all forms of non-khamr alcohol. After all, Rasulullah’s prediction in this regard has to materialize, and the modernists and those Ulama who are duped by their ‘logical arguments’, appear to be the ones who will give effect to the predicted halaalization of liquor.

 THE LAMENTABLE ATTITUDE OF THE ULAMA

The Ulama are supposed to be the very first ones to understand the Maqsad (Objective) of life of earth. They are supposed to be aware that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, the world has been created for you, and you have been created for the Aakhirah.”

In this transitory earthly abode we have been given a very short lifespan which the Qur’aan and the Sunnah exhort us to utilize for self-reformation, purification of the nafs and for the development of our everlasting stay in Jannat. Therefore, it does not behove the Ulama to conduct themselves in ways which are inimical to the Goal of the Aakhirah.

The entire Qur’aan Majeed is replete with aayaat vigorously enjoining the cultivation of Taqwa. There are no less than 250 aayaat in which Taqwa is commanded and exhorted. This is also the theme of the Sunnah. Among the vital requisites of Taqwa is abstention from mushtabah (doubtful) food. There is no need for discussion pertaining to haraam. Every faasiq and faajir is aware of the imperative need to abstain from haraam.

But, alas! In our age even the Ulama have no care for Taqwa and mushtabahaat. In fact Taqwa has become a strange and an alien concept for even the Ulama. Abstention from mushtabah is frowned on, and even mocked.  It is essential for Muftis when they issue fatwas to keep in mind the spirit and ethos of the Deen. The ethos of the Qur’aan and Sunnah has to be introduced into the Mufti’s fatwa.

This does not envisage the imposition of unnecessary hardship on the masses. It does not mean that Shar’i concession should be set aside when there is a real need for it. But it does mean that concessions should operate within the confines of the Shariah, and where there is no need for laxity, or laxity leads to fitnah and fasaad, then it is binding on the Mufti to abstain from employing destructive latitude in his fatwas.

Consider the issue of soft drinks. These drinks are not essential for life on earth. On the contrary they are destructive, physically, morally and spiritually. They are carcinogenic, i.e. they cause cancer, as well as many other grave diseases. Furthermore, they contain alcohol which every Muslim understands is haraam. They are the earthly substitutes for Teenatul Khabaal (the pus of Jahannamis) which will be served to the consumers of alcohol.

For such a destructive beverage, it is highly irresponsible for a Mufti to issue a fatwa of permissibility by manipulating technicalities of Fiqh, and differences of opinion. Whilst the emphasis of the Deen is on food reduction (Qillat-e-Ta’aam), and this applies to halaal tayyib food, the emphasis of the Muftis of this age is on abundance of food consumption even mushtabah and haraam food which has been recklessly halaalized by the manipulation of technicalities. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

* “Eating more than once a day is wasteful.”

* “A kaafir eats with seven intestines whilst a Muslim eats with one intestine.”

*“Sufficient (as nourishment) for them ( i.e. for the pious Believers) is that which is sufficient for the beings of the heavens (i.e. for the Malaaikah).”

The Malaaikah subsist on Tasbeeh and Taqdees. The Auliya of Allah Ta’ala also attain similar powers whereby the consumption of food is negligible. Commenting on this Hadith, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (rahmatullah alayh) said:

“It has been narrated that some Auliya stayed in seclusion for long periods without any food whatsoever. They survived on Tasbeeh and Thikrullaah. This Hadith explicitly confirms that sometimes Tasbeeh and Thikr are adequate substitutes for food. However, nowadays people are unable to implement the austere ways of food reduction practised in the former ages. ……. In the Shariah, Taqleel-e-Ta’aam (reduction of food) has assumed the form of fasting.”

Hadhrat Sahl Bin Abdullah (rahmatullah alayh) said:

“When Allah Ta’ala created the world, He created ignorance and sin in satiation (i.e. a full stomach), and in hunger He created Ilm (Knowledge) and Hikmat (Wisdom).”

The advice proffered by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is that the stomach should be filled with food only one third; one third space in the stomach should be for water, and the other third for circulation of air. The Akaabir Ulama and Auliya of recent times, seeing the physical and spiritual weaknesses of people advise that one should not fill the stomach to capacity. When one feels that a couple of morsels could still be eaten, then one should stop eating. Over-eating is physically and spiritually destructive.

We are not advocating that people in this age should adopt the extremely rigid and austere methods of food reduction practised in the former days as advocated by Imaam Ghazaali and other Auliya. The purpose of citing these narrations is to induce the Ulama to reflect and to exercise caution by abstaining from mushtabah, for such abstention is Waajib, and to refrain from recklessly issuing fatwas which provide a licence for unbridled gluttony which destroys both the physical and spiritual fibre of the Muslim.

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