More on Synthetic Alcohols
Posted: 18 Safar 1424, 20 April 2003
I wish to explain the nature of a synthetic alcohol. As the name suggests it has not been extracted from the fruits such as grapes, dates etc. but is synthesised chemically.
Cetyl alcohol is a long chain alcohol which is solid hence obviously not drinkabale nor does it cause intoxication if at all ingested. Therefore, it is halal to use in cosmetic products. It is also not absorbed through the skin when applied as a cream.
However, Synthetic Ethyl Alcohol, which is a short chain alcohol (C2H5OH) and is a liquid, is not halal. Because it causes intoxication when ingested. As the Ulema say anything that causes intoxication even in a very small quantity will therefore be haram.
Fruits such as dates and grapes when they are putrified, produce Ethyl Alcohol which is the intoxicating agent and that is why it makes Khamr a haram drink.
Ethyl Alcohol is also used in many cosmetic agents both for men (Aftershave Lotion) and for female perfumes. Ethyl Alcohol is absorbed through the skin. It then passes through the flesh into the blood vessels and finally mixes with the blood and circulates throughout the body. Once in the blood it is as good as if one has ingested through the mouth. As a small quantity of any intoxicant is haram therefore, as mentioned earlier, all liquid cosmetic products containing Ethyl Alcohol are prohibited. Other names given to synthetic Ethyl Alcohol are, Ethanol, Methylated Spirits (contains 5 percent Methyl Alcohol and 95 percent Ethyl Alcohol). Products containing these ingredients therefore will also be prohibited.
I was Research and Development Manager/Senior Scientist working for reputable pharmaceutical companies (Searle, Wyeth, Roche, Aventis) in Britain for 33 years until my recent retirement. I have developed many medicinal products of which a number of them have worldwide patents. I have thoroughly studied ingredients and worked on many liquid products to avoid using Synthetic Ethyl Alcohol as a dissolving medium so that our Muslim brothers/sisters may be able to use them without any concern. At the same time I am Alhamdu-Lillah a practising Muslim living in London.
I thought it will be beneficial to send this Email message through Albalagh Newsletter for many of my Muslim brother/sisters to understand the position of Synthetic Ethyl Alcohol.
Ahmed Saeed Mughal