How Do Non-alcoholic Wine and Wine Vinegar Differ?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

In a recent question (What Is the Ruling on Halal Wine?), it was mentioned that de-alcoholized wine was haram because of the impurity of wine. But it is also well known that wine vinegar is halal. Don’t these two opinions contradict? In both cases, the original product is an impure intoxicant, and both processes remove the intoxicating property of the wine. Neither process significantly alters the composition of the product beyond the alcohol. The only difference is that one removes the alcohol completely, while the other replaces it with acetic acid. Shouldn’t de-alcoholization processes then be analogous to the process of producing vinegar and take the same ruling?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

No. There is no contradiction between the prohibition of de-alcoholized wine and the permissibility of wine vinegars for the following reasons:

  1. The Sacred law allows very specific ways for the removal of impurities. The process in which wine is dealcoholized is not one of them. Due to this, even if the alcohol is removed, the impurity from that alcohol is not; therefore, the drink is impure. Impurities are prohibited for consumption. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
  2. Wine vinegars are permitted directly from Prophetic narrations, and istihala, or chemical transformation, is an established means of purifying impurities in the Sacred law. Due to this, wine vinegars are pure and permissible to consume. [Ibid.]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The best of condiments is vinegar. The best of condiments is vinegar” [Muslim]

Summary

The rulings of Islam are not based on science but rather on textual evidence from the core source of law: the Quran, the Prophetic narrations, scholarly consensus, and legal analogy. The scholars derive their rulings through the lenses of these four. These rulings make up the Sacred law which allows the Believer to live their life according to what Allah Most High wants from us.

Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.