The Clear Rulings on Alcohol According to Hanafi Fiqh | Imam Zia Shiekh

A complete picture of the Hanafi religious ruling

By Imam Zia Sheikh

Is Beer Halal According to the Hanafi Fiqh?

You might be forgiven for thinking so if you believed the recent viral posting of an Egyptian Shaykh (link) declaring that to be the case, which has now been determined to be fake. Before you rush out to your local convenience store to celebrate, it is better to get the complete picture of the religious ruling, and that is the purpose of this article.

First of all, there are clear ahadith that suggest that all intoxicants are haram, regardless of how they are made: “All intoxicants are khamr, and all khamr is prohibited” (Agreed upon), and “whenever a large amount of an object intoxicates, a small amount of it is also prohibited.” (Tirmidhi)

So then, how would a Shaykh come to the conclusion about the ruling in Hanafi fiqh?

According to Hanafi fiqh, the legal definition of khamr is the juice of grapes or date syrup (nabeedh) that has been fermented to a point that the sugar turned to alcohol, thereby making it into an intoxicant.

Where did this definition come from?

The proof of this is in the decisive, unequivocal texts of the Qu’ran (see 5:90) and Noble Sunnah, as the narrations of the prohibition of khamr together comprise multiple-chain transmission (tawatur). Its prohibition is also confirmed by scholarly consensus. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “Intoxicants are from these two trees,” while pointing to grapevines and date-palms. [Sahih Muslim]. There is also a consensus of the companions regarding this type of alcohol.

What this means is, that any other form of intoxicant that is not included in the above definitions (grapes and dates) cannot legally be called khamr,  and therefore the ruling would have to be based on scholarly legal judgments, known as ijtihaad,   or by analogy, which is known as qiyaas. Therefore, any type of intoxicating drink made of barley, honey, figs, or anything other than those things that are clearly mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, requires some detail, and is subject to a difference of opinion.

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Because of this seeming ambiguity, the ruling on this category of intoxicant is divided:

1- The majority of the Ulemaa of the Hijaz and the Muhadditheen have said that all of these types of alcohol are prohibited, whether in small or large amounts.

2- The Scholars of Iraq, Ibrahim Nakhi from the Tabieen , Sufyan Althawri, Ibn Abi Layla, Ibn Shubrumah, Imam Abu Haneefa, and the rest of the scholars of Kufa, and the majority of the scholars of Basra say that the prohibition in these products is the intoxication in the product, not the product itself. This is based upon the seemingly ambiguous and contradictory texts regarding the ruling of these products.

However, prominent scholars from the Hanafi school, like Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan Shaybaani have declared the above opinion to be incorrect, as mentioned in prominent Hanafi books like Ad-Durr-Ul-Mukhtar, “And Muhammad (Shaybaani) has declared the drinks extracted from honey, figs etc to be haram.”

It is mentioned in  Al-Mowsooatul Fiqhiyah  “As for the nabeedh of honey, figs, barley, and wheat, it is permissible according to Imams Abu Haneefa and Abu Yusuf, with the condition that it is not drunk with the intention of merry-making and mischief, and Imam Muhammad has opposed them in this opinion. The fatwa is given according to the opinion of Imam Muhammad in the Hanafi school of thought.”

The last line is the key in all of this discussion. Despite differences of opinion, the religious ruling (or the mufta-bihi qowl) is derived from the opinion of Imam Muhammad, and not the other Hanafi scholars.

In summary:

  • All intoxicants are prohibited in Hanafi fiqh
  • The leniency of the ruling according to some Hanafi scholars can be benefitted from in areas of extreme need, like alcohol in some medications.

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5 responses to “The Clear Rulings on Alcohol According to Hanafi Fiqh | Imam Zia Shiekh”

  1. Avatar Meg says:

    Baloney all of it. The Quran is quite clear in one and only one ayat, gambling and intoxicants (anything and all things which cause intoxication and interference with one’s judgement) are the equivalent of the Shaitan himself. Without exception.

    Medications obviously…to relieve pain are not included, nor are those used for other purposes in the cure of diseases and that is just pure common sense. They have risks all the same but one must assume that ‘intoxication’ is meant to be ‘the recreational’ use of a chemical.

  2. Avatar Tenzin says:

    I came reading this thinking “I wonder why someone would feel the need to clarify this.” My lack of participation in social media sometimes saves me from having to read inane garbage.

    And after reading this, I am more confused. I feel like the article could use a bit more elaboration.

    Few questions for the author:
    1) So this is talking about the hanafi fiqh. What is the implication on the other madhahib?

    2) So all those times me and my friends joked about “Bro it’s okay to drink as long as you don’t get drunk”, is somehow true in certain madhabs? If the drink is intoxicating, but is not from grapes or date trees, it’s okay to drink it according to some fatawa, as long as it’s not with the intention of merry-making or mischief?

    Forgive me for any misunderstanding. I was always under the impression that any intoxicating substances (ANY alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc) are absolutely, a thousand percent, unconditionally, considered unlawful to consume. The obvious exceptions being for life-threatening situations.

    • Avatar greywolf says:

      All you need to know is “whenever a large amount of an object intoxicates, a small amount of it is also prohibited.” (Tirmidhi).

      End of discussion. Full stop.

    • Avatar Marcus says:

      When the prophet (saw) prohibits the alcohol made from palmdates and grapes two ijtihad was deducted from the event.

      1. The scholars who took it litterally and resulted in alcohol based on date and grapes are sinful only. Making other kind of alcohol halal.

      2. The other scholar focused on the intoxicant nature behind the prophet’s prohibition and forbid all kinds of alcohol.

      Since both are ijtihads produced by wellknown ulemah both opinions have a place in islam.

      Allah(swt) says that the one who strive (in ijtihad) and landed on the right solution gets 2 hasanat and the one who landed om the wrong solution gets 1 hasanat. Tolerance is the key here. But on the day of judgement there is only one true opinion, but for us in dunya the true answer is not always revealed, hence ijtihad which make room for difference interpretations.

      And please don’t use hadith and ayat to backup your favorite opinion. Do you really think the other scholars opinion is based on thin air without ayat and hadith to back up as well??

      Today there is a mainstream. Just like the evolution of different scholars in different regions. Mainstream today is alchohol is haram. But some scholars have different opinion and that is just as halal if they were sincere in their ijtihad progress. And I believe a man like Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf were both mumin with high level of taqwa and truly sincere when they reached their islamic verdict on this issue.

      If Allah told us to consume a coconut without further instructions we would deduce various opinions based on that command. Some would eat the entire coconut, other would crack it eat only the white soft part and other will only drink the juice. As all three variation is defined as “consume”. So which one is right? All of them. But you can only follow one. So pick the one you have most faith in and in which you believe the aleim has the strongest and most robust intellectual capacity.

  3. Avatar Marcus says:

    Here are some basic knowledge about islamic law principles.

    If a devine text is…
    Absolut in meaning/command = no interpretation.

    Ambigous in meaning/command = room for interpretation.

    Although we say shariah is the God’s law and not a manmade set of laws truth is majority of shariah is a collection of law products built upon itjihad.

    Ijtihad, no matter how you cut it, is eventually the man’s ability to define set of rules in a grey zone where crystal clear definitions lack. The devine part is the work is based on devine sources (quran and sunnah).

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