Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam alaykum,
Are substances mixed with alcohol excused according to the Shafi’i School?
An example would be a cream mixed with alcohol.
Answer:Wa alaykum salam
May Allah increase you.
Scholars adopted one of three approaches in dealing with widespread usage of denatured alcohol in the current era.
1. Maintaining the original rule of impurity and contamination:
Scholars of this view maintained that alcohol of all kinds is impure. Consequently, any mixture, less than 200l (2 qullas), that comes in contact with with such alcohol will be rendered impure. According to these scholars, the usage of products containing alcohol will be impermissible.
2. Questioning the impurity of alcohol:
A number of the early scholars questioned the proofs of the impurity of alcohol and concluded that it is actually pure. Among them were Rabi’ah al-Ra’yi – a teacher of Imam Malik rahimahuLlah, and Imam Isma’il b. Yahya al-Muzani, the student of Imam al-Shafi’i.
According to them, there would be no problem in using products that contain alcohol for non-consumption purposes.
3. The rule of public affliction (‘Umum al-Balwa):
In the post-industrial societies we live in, the widespread usage of alcohol denat in a vast array of products such as paint, hand cleaners, soaps, cream and lotions etc. cannot be ignored. Abstaining from all these products brings about difficulty and hardship. Allah the Most High said, “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” [2:185] The Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said, “facilitate ease (for people) and do not make things difficult (for them)” [Agreed Upon].
Accordingly, the great 10th century Shafi’i scholar, Shams al-Ramli, when asked about cheese that was sold in Cairo and manufactured with an impure rennet, replied,
“Yes, cheese made with an impure rennet (bittasarruf) will be overlooked because of public affliction (‘umum al-balwa) in these times, as was the legal verdict of my father, may Allah have mercy upon him. This has been taken from legal maxims such as, “Difficulty produces ease” and “when a matter becomes constricted it widens.” Allah said, “He has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” [Further,] our scholars have clearly overlooked impurities in instances where the difficulty was by far less than the case at hand.”
In conclusion, one can safely assume that the presence of alcohol in various products in post-industrial societies, by far exceeds the presence of an impure rennet in cheese sold in 10th century Cairo. Thus, based on the rule of public affliction, the presence of denatured alcohol in these products will be overlooked and will be considered pure for usage.
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.