Medicines Containing Alcohol
Muslims are allowed to take medicine containing alcohol if its amount doesn’t affect the mind and there is no other alternative. It should be prescribed by a qualified doctor and taken within essential limits.
Medicines Containing Alcohol
· Using alcohol in medicines.
· Medicines with an alcohol ingredient.
There are many medicines that contain alcohol in varying proportions. Most of these are for the treatment of colds, coughs, upper respiratory infections as well as other common diseases. Should Muslims take such medicines if alcohol-free medication is hard to come by?
It is permissible to use medicines with an alcohol ingredient if the alcohol is transformed and has no effect on the mind. If the medicine contains a large percentage of alcohol, or a small percentage that remains potent, then it may not be used except in the case of need, when there is no permissible alternative and it is prescribed by a qualified doctor of integrity. In this latter case, a Muslim may take such a medicine within the limits of what is essential.
The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League endorsed this view in its decision No. 6/16 which stated:
It is permissible to use medicines containing alcohol in small quantities that are essential in the pharmacological industry, provided that such medicines are prescribed by a competent doctor.
It is also permissible to use alcohol externally on wounds as a cleansing agent, killer of germs and in creams and ointments that are used externally.
· The Islamic Fiqh Council urges pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists in Muslim countries and importers of medicines to do their best to reduce the use of alcohol in medicines to the absolute minimum, and to use substitutes wherever possible.
· The Council urges doctors to keep prescribing alcohol-containing medicines to the minimum.
This view is also endorsed by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in its decision No. 23 (11/3) and by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa
If the alcohol component is mixed within the medicine and cannot be separated then the rule of transformation applies to it. This rule means that the matter that is impure or forbidden is no longer effective and has shed its impurity and become lawful to consume. Scholars give various examples, such as a drop of urine that falls into a small quantity of water and gets mixed with it leaving no effect on the water which retains its colour, taste and smell. This water is considered pure and may be used as such. Another example is that of a dog falling into a salt-extracting facility and becoming part of the salt product. This salt can be used in food, it is treated as salt and we do not consider its origin.
If the alcohol is not mixed then the medicine is not permissible to use because it is partly intoxicating. However, in cases of necessity when there is no substitute medicine, the alcohol-containing one becomes permissible, because necessity relaxes prohibition and Islamic law is based on removing hardship and stress. Necessity is treated according to the situation.
· Decisions by the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League.
· Decisions by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy.
· Decisions of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
· Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
· Fatawa al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah, by a group of scholars.
· Abdullah Ben Bayyah, Sina[at al-Fatwa wa Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat.
- Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa, vol. 22, p. 297.