Is Vanilla Essence Halal?

Bismillah walhamdulillah wassalaatu wassalaam ‘alaa RasoolAllah

Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh

May Allah make the following beneficial

We know that all intoxicants are prohibited as the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Every intoxicating substance is unlawful.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

However, we also need to realise that according to Islamic Law, a substance is classified as an intoxicant if the substance itself (as a whole) has the ability to intoxicate when consumed.

In light of the above, to clarify whether or not a product containing vanilla essence is an intoxicant (which would make it unlawful) we would need to clarify whether the entire product, if consumed in any quantity has the ability to intoxicate. 

We would not clarify whether or not the product containing vanilla essence is an intoxicant based on the fact that it may or may not have a percentage of alcohol in it. Rather we would clarify whether or not the product containing vanilla essence is an intoxicant based on the characteristics of that product itself.

With that said, let’s look at the characteristics of a typical product containing vanilla essence.

Firstly, we need to consider whether normal/low consumption levels is likely to intoxicate. If this low consumption intoxicates, then we’d consider the product an intoxicant (and as such, it would be unlawful to consume). 

However, it is also essential that we consider whether high consumption levels of the product containing vanilla essence would intoxicate, as the Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden.” [Related by al-Tirmidhî, Abû Dawûd, al-Nasâ’î, Ibn Mâjah, al-Dâraqutnî, and Ahmad with an authentic chain of transmission]

In light of the above, let’s ask ourselves the following:

If a person consumes a ridiculously large quantity of the product containing vanilla essence (e.g. the maximum consumption humanly possible), would they become intoxicated? 

If the person is intoxicated by this very high level of consumption, then we’d know that the product itself is an intoxicant and as such unlawful. If the person does not suffer from intoxication from this very high level of consumption, then we’d know that the product is not classified as an intoxicant. So ask yourself, will this extremely high level of consumption of the product containing vanilla essence intoxicate?

To provide you with more information regarding this very issue, a fatwa from website of Shaykh Salman al-Oadah (may Allah preserve him), islamtoday.com, is located below:




Question: In vanilla flavoring and many other flavorings there is alcohol. I am not sure of the percentage. These flavorings are used in icecream and many other processed foods and beverages. So can we eat these things? 

Answered by the Fatwa Department Research Committee – chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah states the following: 

Alcohol is forbidden because it intoxicates. The exact percentage of alcohol in a food or beverage has no effect on the ruling. The ruling applies to the food or beverage itself taken as a whole and not to its composition. Anyway, such small percentages of alcohol generally do not have any affect on a person who consumes the product.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (1865), Sunan Abî Dâwûd (3681), Sunan al-Nasâ’î (5607), Sunan Ibn Mâjah (3392), and Musnad Ahmad (5648)]

As long as the food or beverage in question does not intoxicate even when large quantities are consumed, then it is not prohibited.
The only other possible objection that might be raised against such a product is that alcohol is considered an impure substance according to many scholars. However, it is an established principle in Islamic Law that minute quantities of an impurity that are completely submerged in pure substances do not make those pure substances impure. The quantity of alcohol in such a product is generally so minute as to be effectively non-existent as far as matters of purification are concerned.

And Allah knows best.

Source: http://www.islamtoday.com/show_detail_section.cfm?main_cat_id=22&q_id=165



In concluding, as a general advice, when dealing with any issue wherein we are unsure of the permissibility/prohibition of something, let’s keep in mind that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: 

“That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart.” [Related by Bukhari and Muslim]

In light of the above, it may be more appropriate to just buy the non-alcoholic alternative(s) mentioned in earlier posts. 

Also, I remind myself and others to remember that declaring things unlawful is something that should not be taken lightly. After all, Allah says (which means):

O you who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibat (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.) which Allah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors. 
And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and fear Allah in Whom you believe
[Surah Maaidah, ayah 87 – 88]

SubhanAllah walhamdulillah, may Allah grant us that which is best in this life and the next, wassalaatu wassalaam ‘alaa RasoolAllah

And Allah knows best

Wassalaamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh

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