FATWA ON COKE AND SOFT DRINKS
The Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa has established beyond any doubt that Coca Cola as well as all other soft drinks contain very small quantities of alcohol. In this fact there is no doubt and the manufacturers of these minerals cannot and do not dispute this claim. Attached hereto are papers which testify to the validity of our claim. Some of our brethren dispute our stand and not only disagree with our findings, but actively, practically and sarcastically advocate and encourage Muslims to consume these minerals.
While they are entitled to their opinions based on Shar’i proofs if indeed they do possess any such proofs, we must stress that they are not discharging their duty as Ulama-e-Haqq on account of their negligent and childish attitude in this matter. Every Aalim of Truth should be aware of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advice that Muslims should abstain from mushtabah (doubtful) things. A mushtabah thing becomes such not on the basis of one’s personal feeling, likes or dislikes. A thing will become mushtabah where there exists valid Shar’i Dalaa-il . When a group or even a single Aalim acting on the basis of valid Shar’i Dalaa-il proclaims an item unlawful, then a valid doubt has been introduced. The item becomes mushtabah and in terms of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) exhortation the mu’min should abstain therefrom.
Hence, even those Ulama who claim that Coke is absolutely halaal should not step out of their way to encourage people to consume such minerals. Uprighteousness demands that they advise their followers to abstain and since they do not accept the finding of prohibition they will be acting correctly if they do not proclaim minerals to be unlawful. However, since they have not even bothered to enquire of the basis and the proofs of those who proclaim Coke to be unlawful, they have failed in their duty and we can say that they are regarding these minerals to be lawful purely on the basis of their personal opinion and liking. While they may have written a letter or two to the manufacturers to enquire about the alcohol content of Coke, they have accepted the word of the manufacturers as being the final verdict. While they condemn us behind our backs for our stand, they never, as uprighteous Ulama, bothered to enquire from us the basis of our stand.
It is alleged that we are being unnecessarily hard (mutashaddid ) in having declared Coke unfit for Muslim consumption. It is claimed that we are imposing difficulties on people by having branded Coke and other soft drinks. A little unbiased thought will dispel these observations. Firstly, Coke is not a necessary item of diet. No one will suffer any detrimental effect by abstaining from Coke. Secondly, Coke is a luxury drink from which even millions of non-Muslims in this country and other countries abstain. Thirdly, Coke and other minerals are detrimental to the health. Abstention from these minerals is thus a blessing and a favour rendered to oneself. Fourthly, no one will suffer in anyway whatever if he/she abstains from Coke and other soft drinks. Fifthly, a large variety of fresh fruit juices are available on the market which are far better substitutes for the carbonated soft drinks.
In view of the above mentioned facts, there is no substance in the claim that a difficulty is being imposed on Muslims by asking them to abstain from soft drinks.
Some claim that our contention of alcohol in soft drinks is without proof. However, this is the weakest and the most baseless argument since investigations prove conclusively that soft drinks do contain small quantities of alcohol as the annexures hereto confirm. Therefore, those who assert that Coke and other soft drinks do not contain any alcohol are in fact making baseless claims for which they have no proof whatever.
At our inspection of our local Coca Cola plant the bottling process was shown and explained to us. It was emphasised by the management that no alcohol whatever is used in the production. However, we pointed out that the concentrate or the essence, the vital and fundamental ingredient, was alcoholic. Surprise was expressed by the plant’s officials who were conducting the tour with us. We asked to be shown the concentrates. These were shown to us at request. We again mentioned that the concentrates contained approximately 20% alcohol by volume. The officials at the plant claimed to be ignorant of this fact I but promised that enquiries will be made. Refer to annexures A1, and A2; .
The concentrates from which soft drinks are produced contain about 20% alcohol by volume. It is from such alcoholic concentrates that Coke and other minerals are made. In the final product, viz. the soft drink, small quantities of alcohol remain. Refer to annextues B , C and D . It is, therefore, unreasonable and utterly baseless to deny the alcohol-content of Coke and other soft drinks. These minerals are made from only alcoholic concentrates and the final product contains minute quantities of the alcohol.
It is also alleged that since non-khamr alcohol is used in soft-drink manufacturer soft drinks should not be branded unlawful on account of the fact that according to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) and Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh) non-khamr alcohol is taahir and if taken in non-intoxicating quantities remains halaal. This argument is not acceptable for several reasons:
(1) It is accepted that the alcohol (ethanol) used in soft drink manufacture is not khamr. However, since the past 14 centuries the Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab has been on the view of Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh), viz. all alcohol, be it non-khamr, is haraam and najis . The Hanafi Fuqaha have for the past 14 centuries issued the Fatwa on this view of prohibition. Today there exists no pressing need to reverse this Mufta bihi view of the Hanafi Math-hab. There is no valid reason for the desire to cancel the official and standing Fatwa of the Hanafi Math-hab in regard to alcohol and issue a new Fatwa in so far as minerals are concerned. Yes, it is conceded that there is such a need in regard to medicines since it is almost impossible to find any alcohol-free medicine. On account of the real need in regard to medicine, the Fatwa of permissibility based on the viewpoint of Shaikhain (rahmatullah alayh), issued by our senior Ulama is understandable and acceptable. But, there is no such need in regard to minerals.
(2) By declaring soft drinks made from alcoholic concentrates halaal, a door to future fitnah is being opened up. In fact the stage is being prepared for future legalization of liquor as has been predicted by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
(3) The Ruling (Fatwa) of the Hanafi Math-hab being on the view of Imaam Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh) is based on the principle of blocking the avenue for future fitnah. Ignoring this ruling and principle in regard to the unnecessary luxury of Coke, etc., the door for fitnah is being opened in that other drinks which are generally regarded as unlawful by all our Ulama, will also come within the scope of permissibility which has been accorded to soft drinks. Barbican Beer and similar other supposedly alcohol-free beers too contain the non-khamr ethanol. Although Barbican Beer, etc., are advertised ‘alcohol-free’ they do contain ethanol-alcohol in small quantities. In view of the alcohol in very small quantities, the authorities permit such beverages to be advertised ‘alcohol free’. See Annexure ‘D ‘. To the best of our knowledge none of our Ulama has ventured to proclaim these ‘alcohol-free’ beers halaal. Yet, these beers contain ethanol in the same quantities as do the soft drinks. In fact, Barbican Beer contains a lesser quantity of alcohol than some soft drinks. Annexure ‘D1’ and Annexure ‘D2 ‘ states that Barbican Beer contains .03% alcohol. According to Annexure C Sparletta Lemonade contain .04% alcohol; Raspberry contains .033%; Pineapple contains .04% and Cream Soda 05%. Thus, all these flavours have more alcohol than some of the beers which our Ulama regard to be haraam.
Therefore, those who claim that Coke, etc., are halaal, have no logic and no reason for maintaining that Barbican Beer and other similar beers are haraam since the soft drinks (some or most of them) contain a greater quantity of the non-khamr ethanol-alcohol than these haraam beers. Hence, in proclaiming soft drinks halaal,the door has already been opened for declaring Barbican, etc. halaal.
(4) Let us take this argument a step further. Laager and Castle Beer are unanimously regarded as haraam by our Ulama. However these beers too contain the non-khamr ethanol. While Laager beer contains about 3.6% ethanol, soft drinks contain .058 ethanol. The difference is only in quantity. But, both contain the non-khamr ethanol. Laager and Castle beer taken on the basis of the principle employed by the legalizers of soft drinks, can also be declared ‘halaal’. Thus, the avenue for fitnah has been expanded to bring Laager, Castle and similar beers within the scope of the permissibility which has been applied to soft drinks.
(5) Let us progress further with this argument. Gin and Whiskey are unanimously proclaimed haraam by our Ulama. No Aalim so far has said that a small quantity of Gin and Whiskey is halaal. Yet, these liquors contain the self-same non-khamr ethanol which soft drinks contain. Gin and Whiskey taken in small quantities do not intoxicate. On the basis of the principle employed by the legalizers of soft drinks, Gin and Whiskey too should be ‘halaal’. Thus, the door for fitnah has been opened even wider to accommodate even Gin and Whiskey. The same argument will extend to Vodka and many other liquors which contain non-khamr ethanol and which do not intoxicate if taken in small quantities.
(6) It should be understood that Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) prediction about the ‘legalizing of liquor’ will not take place overnight. It will be a gradual process – a process which has already been initiated by those who regard soft drinks to be halaal. The modernists and the ulama-e-soo’ will sooner or later set into motion the technicalities of Fiqhi principles to legalize all liquor on the basis of the non-khamr alcohol content and on the principle of small quantities which do not intoxicate. It is only short-sighted persons and those who are not concerned much with the morals of the Ummah who will venture to be so careless and proclaim soft drinks permissible without even having properly investigated the matter and without thinking of the future and of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) prediction.
Of importance regarding this issue is the fact that the view of even the Shaafi, Maliki and Hambali Math-habs conforms with the verdict of the Hanafi Math-hab, namely, all types of alcohol are najis and haraam.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Whatever intoxicates in a large quantity, even its little quantity is forbidden.”
“Every intoxicant is haraam.”
It does not behove the Ulama to issue such verdicts which are of neither worldly nor spiritual benefit to the Ummah and serve only the purpose of boosting the monetary interests of the kuffaar.
Annexure ‘E’ is extracts from an article, GOING TO HELL IN A SHOPPING BASKET which appeared in a book BIG SECRETS. These pages present some interesting facts in the history of Coca Cola. The facts came to light during a supreme court trial regarding the ingredients of Coca Cola. It is conclusively proven in this article that Coca Cola contains alcohol.
We trust that we have sufficiently explained our stand in regard to soft drinks.
Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa
Documentation Verifying the Alcohol Content of Coke
Islam takes an uncompromising stand in prohibiting intoxicants, regardless of whether the amount is little or much. If an individual permitted to take but a single step along this road, other steps follow; he starts walking and then running, and does not stop at any stage. This is why our beloved Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Of that which intoxicates in a large amount, a small amount is HARAAM.”
“If a bucketful intoxicates, a sip of it is HARAAM.”
In connection with alcohol, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) cursed ten categories of people saying:
“Truly, Allah has cursed KHAMR and has cursed the one who produces it, the one for whom it is produced, the one who drinks it, the one who serves it, the one who carries it, the one for whom it is carried, the one who sells it, the one who earns from the sale of it, the one who buys it, and the one for whom it is bought.”
When the above verse of Surah al-Maaidah was revealed, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) announced:
“Truly, Allah has prohibited KHAMR. Therefore, whoever hears this verse and possesses some of this substance should neither drink it nor sell it.”
The narrator of the Hadith says:
“The people brought forth whatever they possessed of it and poured it out in the streets of Madinah.”
Islam’s stand in prohibiting alcohol and blocking all avenues which lead to drinking is very clear and unequivocal. The Arab’s during the period of jaahiliyyah were very fond of wine and drinking parties. To eradicate this pervasive evil from society, Allah Ta’ala adopted a wise course of education and training, prohibiting it in measured stages. First, He made it clear to them that the harm of drinking wine is greater than its benefit; next, He told them not to come to Salaat while intoxicated; and finally, He revealed the verse in Surah al-Maaidah which prohibited it totally and decisively:
“O you who believe! Truly, intoxicants and gambling and divination by arrows are an abomination of shaitaans’ doing; avoid it in order that you may be successful. Assuredly shaitaan desires to sow enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from remembrance of Allah and from Salaat. Will you not then desist?”
The response of the Muslims to these verses was remarkable indeed. At the time some people were drinking, with partly-filled cups in their hands. As soon as they heard someone announcing: “Wine has indeed been prohibited.”, they poured the remaining drinks upon the ground and broke the big clay pots in which other drinks were being fermented.
May Allah give us the strength to give up something we love and enjoy, something that has become a part of our daily life. May Allah give us the strength to give it up just as the Muslims of those times gave up wine and drinking parties solely for the pleasure of Allah.
I wish to stress that mere academic knowledge of the HALAAL and HARAAM, and of the limits of these is not sufficient. Although the major sins and principle obligations are known to every Muslim, nonetheless, we find a great many of them indulging in these sins and neglecting those obligations, and rushing toward the Fire with their eyes wide open.
If the Muslim is well-versed in the knowledge of his religion and its Shariah, and at the same time possesses a fully alert conscience which safeguards the limits so that they cannot be overstepped, he is indeed rich in all goodness. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) spoke the truth when he said:
“When Allah intends good for a person, He makes his own soul a watcher over him.”
Just as Islam has prohibited whatever leads toward the HARAAM, it has also prohibited resorting to technical legalities in order to do what is HARAAM by devious means and excuses inspired by shaitaan. It has reprimanded the Jews for resorting to such practices. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Do not do what the Jews did in order to (technically) leaglise Allah’s prohibitions by flimsy excuses.”
This is a reference to the fact that Allah had prohibited the Jews to hunt on the Sabbath (Saturday). To get around this prohibition they would dig ditches on Friday so that the fish would fall into them on Saturday, to be caught on Sunday. Those who resort to rationalisations to justify their actions consider such practices to be permissible, but the jurists of Islam consider them HARAAM, since Allah’s purpose was to prevent them from hunting on the Sabbath, whether by direct or indirect means.
Calling a HARAAM thing by a name other than its own or changing its form while retaining its essence is a devious tactic, since obviously a change of name or of form is of no consequence as long as thing and essence remain unchanged. Thus, when some people invent new terms in order to deal in usury or to consume alcohol, the sin of dealing in usury and drinking remains. As we read in the collections of Ahadith:
“A group of people will make peoples’ intoxication HALAAL by giving it other names.
A time will come when people will devour usury, calling it “trade”.”
And among the strange phenomena of our time is that people term obscene dance “art”, liquor “preservatives”, and usury “interest”. In all its legislation and moral injunctions, Islam lays great stress on nobility of feelings, loftiness of aims, and purity of intentions. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Actions will be judged by intentions, and everyone will be recompensed according to what he intended.”
I conclude with the following supplication, which has come to us from the early Muslims:
O Allah, make us independent of HARAAM with HALAAL and of disobedience to You with obedience to You.
All praise is for Allah Ta’ala, Who guided us to this; had He not given us guidance, we could not have been guided.
All information mentioned in this investigative report was checked and re-checked via the different sources available in order to verify the authenticity and accuracy of the information. The information is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Being only human, I stand to be corrected on any error made on any issue discussed.
The Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa
PO Box 3393
PORT ELIZABETH 6056