Question # 318: Can a Muslim use perfumes on body and clothes which contains alcohol?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: As for using perfumes containing alcohol, this is a matter of dispute as some of the scholars allow it while others forbid it. According to scholars, who allow it, state that the perfumes containing alcohol are pure and that they are permissible to use. However, those who forbid based their view on acknowledging these alcoholic elements to be intoxicating. In conclusion, this is from the doubtful matters and Muslims are encouraged to act on safest views and to avoid disputes. Thus, whoever abstains from it has surely guarded his honor and religion, and whoever used it based on the fatwa that allow it, is excused and no one can deny it on him.
Long Answer: According to Dr. Salah Al-Sawy: “The ruling is based upon knowing whether alcohol is considered pure or impure and whether this type of alcohol is intoxicating. These two issues are a matter of dispute amongst scholars. As for the first part, the dispute is famous and the most correct view is that alcohol is pure, because when Allah revealed in the Qur’an the ayah that alcohol is unlawful, the companions poured their alcohol on the streets of Madinah; hence if it were impure they would have not done so. As for the second point, it is still anticipated by the experts and its conclusion is that of the Islamic Fiqh Council who have issued a verdict in this matter with the following statement: “First: it is impermissible to use alcohol as a medicine in any way because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘Allah has not placed a cure in anything unlawful’. This hadith was documented in Sahih Bukhari. He also said, ‘Allah sent down sickness and made a cure for each sickness, so seek medication and do not use unlawful items for medication’, and this is a hadith that Abu Dawud recorded in his Sunan book, and so did Ibn Al-Sunni and Abu Na’eem. [It was narrated that Tariq bin Suwaid Al-Hadrami said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, in our land there are grapes which we squeeze (to make wine). Can we drink from it?’ He said: ‘No.’ I repeated the question and said: ‘We treat the sick with it.’ He said: ‘That is not a cure, it is a disease.’”] This sahih narration has been documented by Ibn Majah in his Sunan and so did Abu Na’eem. Second: It is allowed to use medicine that contains a very low percentage of alcohol that is necessary to produce this medicine for which there is no other alternative. However, this permissibility is valid only when a trustworthy doctor prescribes it for his patient. It is also allowed to use alcohol as wound disinfectant and to kill germs, and so is the case for creams and external lotions and oils. As for using perfumes containing alcohol, then this is also a matter of dispute as some of the people of knowledge allow it while others forbid it. The Fiqh Council in India has pointed out that the perfumes containing alcohol are pure and that they are permissible to use, and the following is their statement: ‘Third point: alcoholic elements that are used in perfumes are not intoxicating, as the experts have said. Thus, they are not considered impure components’”. On the other hand, those who forbid perfumes that contain alcoholic elements based their view on acknowledging these alcoholic elements to be intoxicating. In conclusion, we can say this is from the doubtful matters and it is established by the people of knowledge that Muslims are encouraged to act on safest views and to avoid disputes. Thus, whoever abstains from it has surely guarded his honor and religion, and whoever used it based on the fatwa that allow it, then he is excused and no one can deny it on him.”
According to Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…no doubt consuming intoxicants is haraam according to the texts of Islam and the consensus of the scholars, but is using it in ways other than drinking… is open to speculation, but to be on the safe side we should not use it. If you say that it is open to speculation because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, al-ansaab [animals that are sacrificed on stone altars for idols], and al-azlaam [arrows for seeking luck or decision], are an abomination of Shaytaan’s handiwork. So, avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Shaytaan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from al-salaah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” (Soorah al-Ma’idah, 5:90-91), then we look at the general meaning of the phrase So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) and say that alcohol should be avoided in all cases, whether it is drunk or applied to the skin, or used in some other way. If we look at the reason why, Allah says, “Shaytaan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from al-salah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” We may understand this to mean that only drinking it is forbidden, because applying it to the skin does not lead to that (enmity and hatred, etc.). So, in conclusion, we say that if the percentage of alcohol in this perfume is low, there is no need to worry about using it, but if it is high, then it is better to avoid it unless it is for a need, such as sterilizing wounds and the like.” (Liqa’ al-Baab al-Maftooh by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)
In another fatwa, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The basic principle is that things are pure (taahir) unless there is evidence to indicate that they are impure (najis). When there is no evidence to indicate that something is impure, then the basic principle is that it is pure. But it is evil (khabeeth) in a practical and metaphorical sense. However, the fact that a thing is forbidden does not necessarily mean that it is impure. Do you not see that poison is haraam but it is not najis (impure)? Everything that is najis is haraam, but nor everything that is haraam is najis. Based on that, we say concerning cologne and similar things: they are not najis, because alcohol in and of itself is not najis. There is evidence for the opinion that we have mentioned, so cologne and similar things are not najis either, and as they are not najis, the clothing does not have to be purified from them. (Majmoo‘ Fataawa al-Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen)
According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, “Using Alcoholic hygiene products is allowed if it is not an oral one, like mouth wash, toothpaste or the like. Alcohol is prohibited for drinking and using with beverages, but not for any other purposes, especially when there is a need for that. Alcoholic perfume is allowed too according to the soundest opinion of scholars.”
According to Shaykh ‘Abd-Al-azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him): “The basic principle is that the perfumes which are common among people are permissible, except in cases where they are known to contain something which would prevent their use, such as their containing intoxicants, or where a large quantity of the perfume would cause intoxication, or it contains something impure (najaasah), etc. But in principle the perfumes which are common among people are permissible, such as ‘oud, amber and musk, etc.
If a person knows that there is a perfume which contains something that would prevent its use, such as intoxicants or impure materials (najaasah), then he should not use it. That includes colognes, because we know from the testimony of the doctors that they are not free from intoxicants. They contain a large amount of alcohol which is an intoxicant. So, we should not use them unless we find kinds which are free of such materials. There are enough kinds of permissible perfumes to leave us with no need for these, praise be to Allah. The same applies to all kinds of drinks or foods which contain intoxicants – we should not use them… The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whatever intoxicates in large quantities is haraam in small quantities.””
(The fataawa from Shaykh ‘Abd-Al-azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen are from the answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.