Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I was reading your response about the Hanafi position on beer versus wine alcohol. Can you clarify what you mean by “(d) it is not used in vain (lahw)”? My example would be beer-battered shrimp. The beer is not used as an intoxicant, nor is that its intention, nor does it contain a sufficient quantity to intoxicate. And it is not used simply to be used, but supposedly because it makes the food taste better. I’m not sure that qualifies as “in vain”. Thank you for your response.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.
Beer battered shrimp is unlawful to consume, as is anything with beer in it, no matter how little the amount of beer.
I believe there is some misunderstanding on this issue. The fatwa that you cite is as follows:
“According to the Indian Hanafi scholars, the fatwa in our times is that synthetic alcohol (and all alcohol not considered ‘khamr’) is tahir (pure), and permitted to use and consume AS LONG AS:
(a) it is not used as an intoxicant;
(b) it is not used as intoxicants are used (i.e. for alcoholic consumption, even a little);
(c) it is not used in an amount that intoxicates;
(d) it is not used in vain (lahw).”
So the very first condition mentioned for permissibility is that the alcohol used in the product is not normally used as an intoxicant. Beer, of course, is normally used as an intoxicant. Therefore, its presence in any food or drink would render that food or drink impermissible, however little the amount of beer present.
To clarify the last condition, to use alcohol “in vain” (lahw) means to consume or use alcohol as corrupt people do, for corrupt or sinful purposes. The usage of alcohols as flavoring in various food products is not deemed “in vain.”
And Allah knows best.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani