Author: Faheema Mahomed Ali
Date: 04 October 2022
Every devout Muslim is ingrained with the knowledge that alcoholic drinks are forbidden. The consumption of alcohol has many detrimental physiological effects on the body and has been linked to countless social and economic ills in society. The knowledge of the harms of alcohol consumption is widely publicized and the number of teetotallers, even amongst those that do not have religious restrictions, are increasing steadily. With this in mind, many alcohol beverage companies have introduced new ranges of non- alcoholic wines, beers and champagnes. Non- alcoholic wines are marketed as a “healthier alternative” for the health conscious consumer and also an innovative way to “accommodate” for those who have religious restrictions.
Non- alcoholic wines are produced by extracting the alcohol after the fermentation process during wine making. Using this method, wine companies have promised consumers the true, “sophisticated” taste of wine. There is however, a division amongst the Ulema with regards to the permissibility of non- alcoholic wines. Some scholars state that due to the final product having an ABV (alcohol by volume) of less than 0.5% it would be considered non-intoxicating and therefore Halaal. However, we need to remember that wine, irrespective of alcohol content, is explicitly forbidden by Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran. Unlike vinegar, which undergoes a complete chemical transformation when produced, wine, in its essence, does not change even though the alcohol content has been removed.
Some Muslims who feel that non-alcoholic wine is permissible have applauded its production stating it as a positive move towards inclusivity of Muslims into modern society. They also state that it can help reverts to better adapt and to curb the curiosity of young Muslims living in a western society. However, we should remember, Muslims have been advised by the Messenger (SAW) that, “Whoever imitates a certain people becomes one of them.” (Abu Dawood). In almost all Non- Muslim societies, drinking and “popping the champagne bottle” is the customary way of celebrating and socialising. Although non- alcoholic wines may not have the intoxicating properties that are so detrimental, they still carry the ideals of the secular society which made it so popular. Moreover, the notion of creating inclusivity and curbing the curiosity of Muslims could lead to a spiritual crises and cause heedlessness in the prohibitions of Islam.
The permissibility of non-alcoholic wines will continue to be debated amongst Muslims worldwide. However, as Muslims we cannot go against the clear commands in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Finally, we should be mindful of the Hadith narrated by ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said; “Wine is cursed from ten angles: The wine itself, the one who squeezes, the one for whom it is squeezed, the one who sells it, the one who buys it, the one who carries it, the one to whom it is carried, the one who consumes its price, the one who drinks it and the one who pours it.”(Ibn Majah).