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Actually I have few questions relating to alcohol consumption. They are so related that I feel they should be at one place.

  1. What is the purpose of Allah in making alcohol haram?
  2. Is it OK to drink alcohol if that purpose is still met?
  3. There are cough (and other) medicines which contain alcohol. They are not wine or something like that. Is it ok to take that medicine in cough?
  4. Some foods in which a little amount of alcohol is mixed to make the food soft and cook earlier. Alcohol is volatile and evaporates on heating. Is it ok to eat that food?
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    I edited your question to make it more understandable, hope you don't mind. Just in case, you can roll back the edit. – Gigili Jun 22 '12 at 6:37
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1. What is the purpose of Allah in making alcohol haram?

Because of reasons that are stated in Quran:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاء فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلاَةِ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّنتَهُونَ
Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants(*) and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?
Maide 91 (5/91)

I don't know why they translated "خمر" as intoxications, but خمر means "wine, vintage, booze, brew, ferment", and means "drinks that make you drunk" in general.

According to this ayat, the reasons stated in Quran are:

  1. Alcohol makes hostilities (الْعَدَاوَةَ) among us.
  2. Alcohol spreads hatred (الْبَغْضَاء) among us.
  3. Alcohol averts us from the remembrance of Allah (ذِكْرِ اللّهِ).
  4. Alcohol averts us from prayers (الصَّلاَةِ).
    (Actually, the word "salat" means more than just "prayer". It literally means "supporting", as a term it means "supporting the way of Allah through education". The basic practice know as "prayer" is only a kernel of salat. It consists of parts (rakats) in which we read Quran and do ruku (bowing) and sacde (prostrating) to show our obedience. The kernel of our prayers is reading Quran, in a wider meaning it is education. So, in this ayat, Allah also means/implies that alcohol obstructs education.)

2. Is it ok to drink alcohol if that purpose is still met?

No. When Allah orders something, it becomes a must. We cannot decide back doors with our own minds. Allah prevents us finding our way with our own minds.

وَلَوِ اتَّبَعَ الْحَقُّ أَهْوَاءهُمْ لَفَسَدَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ بَلْ أَتَيْنَاهُم بِذِكْرِهِمْ فَهُمْ عَن ذِكْرِهِم مُّعْرِضُونَ
But if the Truth had followed their inclinations, the heavens and the earth and whoever is in them would have been ruined. Rather, We have brought them their message, but they, from their message, are turning away.
Muminun 71 (23/71)

.

3. There are cough (and other) medicines which contain alcohol. They are not wine or something like that. Is it ok to take that medicine in cough?

About good usages of alcohol:

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَآ أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ كَذَلِكَ يُبيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ
They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they should spend. Say, "The excess [beyond needs]." Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.
Bakara 219 (2/219)

Allah says that "the things that make you drunk" (خمر - khamr) has also good points.
When we read the entire Quran, we get an impression that Allah loads less responsibilities to diseased people.

4. Some foods in which a little amount of alcohol is mixed to make the food soft and cook earlier. Alcohol is volatile and evaporates on heating. Is it ok to eat that food?

If there is no alcohol in the final form of the food, then there is no problem. But, some alcohol may have remained in it. A Mumin (believer) must be cautious and finicky. Allah's orders comes before anything else. So, I personally would avoid any food that was prepared with alcohol.

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    Just to clarify, one shaykh I studied under was a chemical engineer. He said that around 40-50% of alcochol remains, even after evaporation. – ashes999 Jun 22 '12 at 13:24
  • خمر khamr is an Arabic word that covers all forms of drinks that intoxicate (makes you drunk), so intoxicants is an appropriate translation. – System Down Jun 22 '12 at 16:30
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    @ashes999 It seems that the percentage of alcohol remaining depends on various factors: time cooked, temperature, type of food, distribution, method of preparation, etc. According to this link it can go down to 5% after 2.5 hours of baking/simmering, but for any length of time less than that the amount is surprisingly significant. (That's not to say that 5% alcohol remaining is permissible, or anything.) – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 24 '12 at 19:37
  • Sure @muntoo. I'm just telling you what he told me. I believe he was talking specifically about flambee. – ashes999 Jun 25 '12 at 0:19
  • @ashes999 Yeah, just backing up your claim with science. :) – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 25 '12 at 0:21
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[2:219] They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they should spend. Say, "The excess [beyond needs]." Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.

This verse from the Qur'an clearly states that although there is benefit in alcohol, the negative effects are much greater (such as the acts you commit while intoxicated or the harm it does to your body.)

In Sunan Ibn-I-Majah Volume 3, Book of Intoxicants, Chapter 30 Hadith No. 3392 "Anything which intoxicates in a large quantity, is prohibited even in a small quantity."

From this hadith, it is clear that any amount that is sufficient enough to intoxicate you is prohibited. Even if someone takes a small amount of alcohol with the intention of staying sober, it's still prohibited.

The majority of scholars have decided that if the amount of alcohol is so insignificant (most accept between 0-0.5%) and if it is mixed with another substance, it is impossible to become intoxicated, hence, the hadith above wouldn't refer to the situation of medicine. Although some scholars still recommend avoiding it unless it's necessary, since there are a lot of alternatives.

Based on the chart I saw here, I don't believe that the food would contain less than 0.5% alcohol. The chart says that after 2.5 hours of cooking it would still contain 5% alcohol, a much higher percentage than what the above-mentioned scholars agree is permissible.

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    Also i would like to point out that alcohol in small amounts is probably still prohibited because it still encourages the production of wine if wine consumption is cut down, production probably will too. but its an opinion so i didnt want to add it in there – NesreenA Jun 22 '12 at 6:57
  • @Gigili i belive become intoxicated was a better choice right? i dont want to edit it back because i dont want to reject your edit – NesreenA Jun 22 '12 at 7:06
  • The common phrase it to "get intoxicated" (look up the word or Google it) and there were other errors in your answer. Feel free to roll back the edit you disagree since you cannot reject my edit. – Gigili Jun 22 '12 at 7:10
  • i mean since i dont want to offend you – NesreenA Jun 22 '12 at 7:11
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    Actually the chart says after cooking for 2.5 hrs it would "retain" not contain 5% of alcohol. Wine is is usually 12-15%, so if you cooked wine with 15% alcohol content for 2.5 hrs and it only retained 5% of the alcohol, the food would contain about .75% of alcohol not 5%. I'm not saying you should cook with it, it's alcohol, just that when looking at such charts it's easy to get misinformed, and to read the information carefully. – user5441 Jun 2 '14 at 18:50
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According to Fiqh of Shia Islam foods and drinks that alcohol is added to them are not permissible for eating and drinking. Quran says:

There will circulate among them young boys made eternal (17) With vessels, pitchers and a cup [of wine] from a flowing spring - (18) No headache will they have therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated - (19)

http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/56:19

Answers of questions:

1- according to Quran its harms are more than its benefits. also to test humans and believers be determined and drink wines of paradise.

2- that purpose can be met only in paradise. your death is needed.

3- there are some Hadith saying: God has places no cure in wine. also the shia scholars say the rule is that if that alcohol is inebriant or not (not in little consume).

4-

برخي غذاها به خودي خود درصد بسيار کمي الکل دارندکه مست کننده نيست اين غذاها اشکال ندارد اما برخي غذاها درصد کمي از الکل به آنها اضافه مي شود.اين مورد حتي اگر الکل بسيار کم باشد و مست کننده نيز نباشد خوردن اين غذاها اشکال دارد.اما اگر الکلي باشد که خود آن مست کننده است اگر آن را اضافه کنند اشکال دارد.

Some foods naturally have a little alcohol which is not inebriant and there is no problem in eating them. but in some foods a little alcohol is added to them. in this case even if the alcohol is very little and is not inebriant eating that food is not permissible. if a alcohol which itself is inebriant be added to food it is not permissible also.


References:

Online answering of Official website of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

  • The purpose can only not be met in paradise. ;) But the question was poorly phrased. – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 24 '12 at 19:52
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    As much as I know the alcohol whose drinking is forbidden is also unclean (Najis) and if so, evaporation wouldn't be enough for the food to become clean! I am missing a point? – owari Oct 21 '12 at 11:16
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Just to answer your third question: we all know that drinking/taking too much medicine will kill you. But still medicine is not haram. And probably if you drink too much of your cough medicine, your last worries will be being drunk, as the amount of medicine you took will probably destroy your body in other manners. So you don't need to be a faqih to see that there is no harm in drinking this medicine as it will kill you before you even get drunk if you somehow decide to drink a full bottle of it. We are here talking about taking a product that was basically produced as medicine and happens to contain alcohol and not about drinking alcohol (wine or whatever it is in order to heal your body, like you all know a glas of wine a day keeps the doctor away)

I see a lot of "According to Quran" "According to Hadith" but unfortunately never "According to your mind and to common sense while interpreting Quran and Hadiths".

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    It would be nice if you could quote any Quranic verses of Sahi Hadiths. Thanks. – Inshan Jun 6 '16 at 8:21
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I see it as a ban on drunkenness and especially drunkenness that causes people harm than a ban on alcohol. Islam thus is like all religions in warning that reckless drunkenness is a sin and does harm. Also it can be implied that people use alcohol to do wrong and give them courage and this kind of drinking is wrong.

So, to answer, I think Islam warns us about the dangers in alcohol, totally outlaws hurting other innocent people whether it is alcohol-fueled or otherwise. It does not ban alcohol but tells us instead to treat it with respect and not to let it rule one's lives.

  • It would be nice if you could quote any Quranic verses of Sahi Hadiths. Thanks. – Inshan Jun 6 '16 at 8:19

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