Fatwa: Questions and Answers on Vinegar


Question: I have a very important question to me because it make me crazy. Please can you tell me is brandy vinegar HALAL or HARAM? That is because it is in ketchup mustard, mayonnaise and someone told me that in bred in all juices (apple or orange) there is alcohol content from 0,1% - 0,5%. Is it now haram when I drink apple juice or eating bread? Baraka Allahu fikum!

Answer: The juristic rule of istihlak states that any substance that is so INSIGNIFICANT because of its quantity as mixed with an overriding halal substance(s), then it is forgiven. If we apply this rule to your question, we would say what experts have concluded in this regard, that any quantity of alcohol that does not exceed the amount of 0.5% is not intoxicating, and therefore it would not render juice or bread haram when mixed with them. The same applies to ketchup, mustard, etc.

People who misunderstand this rule are often confused with the interpretation of the hadith “whatever intoxicates in big quantity, a small amount of it is haram.” However, the hadith is only talking about the “intoxicating substance” that is not mixed with others. For example, a Muslim is not allowed to take little drops of wine and drinks them under the pretext that he won’t get drunk. But when the alcohol is mixed with other substance to the effect that it has become irrelevant (up to 0.5%) then it has become another substance that falls under the rules of either istihlak or istihalah (transformation).

Question: Are all kinds of vinegar Halal, and which kind is Haram?

Answer: Vinegar is halal and there is nothing wrong with it. As for vinegar that it is not hundred percent pure and there is wine mixed with it, it is also considered halal because even if it is made from wine it has undergone fundamental process of transformation through certain chemical changes that is called “Istihalah” in Islamic law. So, the ruling of wine does not apply to it anymore and we are still allowed to use it.

Question: Is it haram to use balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar?

Answer: As for the ingredient “balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar”, you are best advised to consult local Muslim scholars who are more aware of the nature of such ingredients, for we are not sure about its nature, though we surveyed the Internet for relevant information.

However, we'd like to give you some general Islamic guidelines regarding the Halal (lawful) food.

The general principle is that any food is Halal except for the following kinds:

1. The dead animal

2. Blood

3. Pork

4. Animals that have been dedicated to anyone other than Allah, that is those which are slaughtered with the invocation of a name other than that of Allah Almighty —for example, the name of an idol.

5. The animal (or bird) that dies because of being strangled

6. The animal (or bird) that dies because of being beat with something

7. The animal (or bird) that dies because of falling down from a height

8. The animal that dies because of being gored by another animal

9. The animal (or bird) that dies because of being killed by a wild beast

10. Animals that have been immolated to idols

Accordingly, all the kinds of food that Halal except what contains any of the prohibited kinds of food that we have mentioned above. Still, any food that contains any intoxicating substance, whether little or much, is absolutely Haram (unlawful).

Also, it will be beneficial to check The Guide to Halal Food

Question: As-Salamu `alaykum! My question involves the use of vinegar in cooking. To my understanding, vinegar is made from alcohol. Certain types of vinegar have a residual alcohol content. In other kinds of vinegar, you do not know whether any alcohol is left in it or not. Which kinds of vinegar acceptable in Islam?

Answer: Concerning your question, we’d like to cite for you the opinion of the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, on this issue:

"Muslim scholars unanimously agree that if wine turns into vinegar by itself, it is lawful. However, if it turns into vinegar with the aid of a chemical substance or by adding something, such as salt, bread or onion, to it, scholars hold different views regarding it. Although some scholars say that it is pure and lawful because it has been changed from its original state, others say that it is still impure and, thus, it is must be avoided.

In his book, Al-Majmu`, Imam An-Nawawi states: 'If wine changes into vinegar by itself, it becomes pure according to the majority of scholars. However, if the change is a result of putting something in it, I say that it is still impure. Ahmad and most scholars also hold this view. Abu Hanifah, Al-Awza`i and Al-Layth consider it pure.'

Malik has reported three hadiths on this, the most authentic one is that treating wine is prohibited. But once it is carried out, wine becomes pure. In the books of the Maliki jurists, it is stated that it is permissible to treat wine so that it becomes vinegar.

What I see is that if wine changes into vinegar, it becomes pure and lawful as it has changed from its original state and this requires a new ruling as is the case with all other converted impurities regardless of whether this occurs naturally or by human interference. Wine itself is a pure substance as it was made from grapes. After becoming an intoxicant, it becomes prohibited. Once it changes and lacks the intoxicating characteristic, it regains its original ruling.

The view of the Hanafi scholars and those who follow them in this respect seems to be strong. They say that treating wine is similar to its natural change into vinegar as both involve the removal of the reason of prohibition, which is intoxication, as well as the attainment of its benefit of nourishment and medicinal purposes.

In addition, the reason for declaring it impure (i.e., intoxication) no longer stands. It is well known that a ruling is attached to its reason in terms of existence or otherwise.

In his book, Sharh Mushkil Al-Aathar, Imam At-Tahawi states: 'Since treatment is a process of reformation, it is permitted as is the case for tanning impure leather. It is stated in an authentic hadith: 'When animal leather is tanned, it becomes pure.' This applies to the case in hand, i.e., vinegar, and it includes all its types."

By and large, dear questioner, it’s clear from the above-mentioned statements and quotations that so long as vinegar originates from wine directly, without the aid of any additives, it is lawful according to the unanimous view of scholars. As for the vinegar that originates from wine through human interference, it’s somehow controversial among scholars, as you can see.


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