Does using products that contain alcohol such as eau de cologne, cream and perfume invalidate wudu and harm prayers?

Details of the Question
Does using products that contain alcohol such as eau de cologne, cream and perfume invalidate wudu and harm prayers?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is stated in the Quran that wine is dirty. (al-Maida, 5/90-91)

According to Hanafi madhhab, it is haram to drink the intoxicants other than wine too but there are various views about whether they are dirty like wine or not. Imam Abu Hanifa says if intoxicants other than wine and those made from grapes smear the garments of a person, it will not harm his prayer even if the amount that smears is more than one dirham. (Sarakhsi, Mabsut, 24/14-15) Accordingly, it is haram to drink things like eau de cologne and spirit but it is permissible to buy, sell and use them.

According to Shafii madhhab, there is no difference between wine made from grapes, the intoxicants made from other substances and eau de cologne. They are dirty like wine and are haram. It is necessary to wash the places that they smear. This is the main decree but in order to make extracts, perfumes and similar things usable, the small amounts of additives in them are regarded as ignorable even if they are dirty.   (Jaziri, 1/19; Mehmed Keskin, Büyük Şafi İlmihali, p. 504)

We also advise you to read the following article:

The issue whether eau de cologne and similar substances are dirty or not is related to the issue whether alcoholic drinks (hamr) are dirty or not. As it is known, intoxicants are rendered haram in order to protect the mind; and drinking intoxicants is regarded among major sins. The following is stated in the last verses that mention alcoholic drinks:  

"O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination― of Satan's handiwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?" (al-Maida 5/90-91)

As it is known, alcoholic drink (hamr) is described as dirty in the verses above. This is the first important point regarding the issue. If we accept alcoholic drink as "dirty", we will deal with the issue of 'what is alcoholic drink (hamr)', which is the second important point. It is necessary to remind the following before explaining them: The drink that Islam forbids is the one that intoxicates, that is, the alcohol that intoxicates:  "hamr", not all kinds of "alcohol". Therefore, if there are some kinds of alcohol that do not intoxicate, as far as we know methyl alcohol does not, they are not regarded as haram (forbidden) alcohol; that is, they are not regarded as "hamr".

Besides, being dirty is one thing and being forbidden to drink is another. Therefore, not all forbidden drinks are dirty. That is why, some previous scholars and the scholars who lived after them hold the view that alcohol (hamr) is haram to drink but it is not dirty and that it does not invalidate prayer if one's garments are smeared with it. For instance,  Raba'a, Lays b. Sa'd, Imam Shafii's friend al-Muzani, who are among previous scholars,  some scholars of Baghdad and Qayrawan (1), who lived after them, San'ani,  and Shawkani(2) and Siddiq Hasan Han(3), who lived afterwards. These scholars, who are in minority use the following argument as their evidence: That alcoholic drink is described as dirty (rijs) in the verse means that it is spiritually dirty, not materially. Similarly, that alcoholic drinks were poured onto the streets of Madinah shows that it is clean.(4) If it were dirty, they would not have allowed the streets of Madinah to be dirtied by alcohol.

These scholars are in minority and their evidence is not so strong. Therefore, "Mujtahid imams unanimously agree that alcohol (hamr) is haram and dirty."(5)

The reasons for it:

1. The word "rijs" is used to express that alcohol (hamr) is dirty. In Arabic, the word "rijs" is used for stink, urine and feces along with both material and spiritual dirt; "rijs" is also used for punishment and"riks"is used for material dirt. If spiritual dirt only had been meant, the word "rijs" would not have been chosen. (6)

2. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was asked about eating food from the plates of polytheists, he told his Companions to wash them before eating from them.  Since they use alcohol and pork, the plates are demanded to be washed; it means they are dirty.(7)

3. The verse demands Muslims "to avoid" alcohol (hamr) definitely; it does not say "do not drink" only. To avoid becomes possible by not drinking and not touching it.(8)

After determining that "hamr" is dirty according to the majority of the fiqh scholars and learning what is called "hamr", the answer to the question at the beginning becomes clear.

According to Imam Abu Hanifa and some scholars of Kufa, "hamr" is the name of the intoxicating drink that is made from grapes and that is let aside without being boiled and that becomes sharp by forming foams. The other alcoholic drinks are called "nabidh". Almost all of the other fiqh scholars hold the view that all of the intoxicants are "hamr". The reasons for it:

1. There are various narrations and hadiths stating that every intoxicant is "hamr" and haram.(9)

2. The following is stated in the hadith of Anas:

"When alcoholic drink was rendered haram, very little drink was made from grapes. Most of the alcoholic drinks used to be made from wet and dry dates." (10)

In the hadith, the alcoholic drink made from dates is mentioned as "hamr".

3. In the hadith of Ibn Umar. the following is stated:"When the prohibition of alcoholic drink (hamr), was sent down, it was made from five things: grapes, dates, wheat, barley and corn.

It is stated thathamr is what covers the mind (makes the mind blurred)." (11) This is clearer.

4. As it is stated in the previous hadith, lexically "hamr" means to cover; therefore, anything that covers the mind, that is, intoxicates should be called "hamr". Fakhruddin Razi regards it as the strongest evidence and says, "Take into consideration the fact that many hadiths support it."(12)

5. In this verse, which forbids gambling along with alcoholic drinks, the reason for the prohibition is stated as Satan causing enmity and hatred among people by using them. Since it is present in all intoxicants, they should not be different from each other regarding any issue.  

6. Gambling was rendered haram by the same verse and acting upon this verse, the scholars unanimously agreed that all kinds of gambling are haram. (13) Therefore, the same thing should be thought about alcoholic drinks. Besides, the following hadith exists:

"Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a small quantity of it is forbidden, too."(14)

This is the view of the three madhhabs except Hanafi; however, this is the view of fatwa in Hanafi madhhab, too.(15)

When we learn from these hadiths and similar ones that anything that intoxicates is called "hamr" and that hamr is dirty according to the majority of the scholars, it becomes clear that according to the majority of the scholars, eau de cologne, spirit and other alcohols are dirty and haram. However, Hanafis and especially Imam Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf (Imam Muhammad usually thinks like the other madhhab scholars regarding these issues) analyzed and classified the issue like a chemist and divided drinks into seven groups based on their properties. Their evidence and explanations regarding the issue cannot be underestimated and ignored. Those who look at al-Mabsut by Imam Sarakhsi (XXIV/2 ff.) and Badayi by Imam Qasani (V/l 12 ff.) can see it clearly.According to their classification, the following issues are in question:

1. Wine (hamr) is the state of raw wet grapes rising, getting sharp and foaming. (According to Abu Yusuf and Muhammad, foaming is not necessary to become hamr.) It is najasah ghalizah (strong dirt) according to all imams. If it is more than one dirham, it invalidates prayer.(16)

2. Alcoholic drinks made from wet and dry dates and raisin (sakar, fadih, naqi). They are najasah ghalizah like wine. There is also a narration that they are not dirty. According to Abu Yusuf, it is najasah khafifah (light dirt); it invalidates prayer only if it is too much. (17)

3. The remaining types of the seven groups of alcoholic drinks are dirty and they do not invalidate prayer even if it is haram to drink those that are intoxicant.

We can deduce the following from what we have said so far: Intoxicants made from grapes and dates are unanimously haram and dirty.

According to all madhhabs except Hanafis, whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a small quantity of it is forbidden and dirty.

In Hanafi Madhhab, especially according to Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf, alcoholic drinks made from things other than grapes and dates are not dirty even if it is haram to drink those that are intoxicant.

Let us deal with the question again: If eau de cologne, spirit, shampoo, extracts, ink, perfume, cream and similar liquids are made from something other than grapes and dates - I think all of them are so now - , or if they are made from grapes and dates but do not contain alcohol that intoxicates, they are not dirty according to the two imams mentioned above and they do not invalidate prayer. If they contain alcohol, they are dirty according to all of the other imams. In that case, Muslims have two alternatives:

1. They will either accept the view of the majority of mujtahids by preferring the cautious one if they can manage to avoid them and to have taqwa and to accept the following hadith as their criteria:

"Abandon what is doubtful and take what is not doubtful."(18)

"Halal and haram things are certain. There are doubtful things between them. Anyone who avoids them protects his religion and chastity."(l9)

2. Or, they will say, "It is sufficient for me to know that Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf hold this view. The following is stated in a hadith: "There is ease in religion."(20) "If something is inevitably widespread," it is better to say it is permissible if it is possible. "This era is not the time of being able to avoid doubtful things."(21) Thus, one will not avoid these kinds of liquids. Neither of the views is criticized. (22)

As it is seen, the issue is more related to the Islamic sensitivity of individuals. However, it is necessary to state that it is likely that the alcohol in these liquids except eau de cologne and spirit (ethyl alcohol) will lose its intoxicative property when it reacts with other substances and form new mixtures or compounds. As we stated in the beginning, not everything that includes alcohol is haram and dirty. We need Muslim chemists who will analyze these substances.   

According to some imams of Hanafi Madhhab only, eau de cologne can be used. However, those who follow the majority of the fiqh scholars and do not use eau de cologne will have acted more cautiously.


(01) Qurtubi, VI/288.
(02) as-Saylu'l-Jarrar, 1/35-36.
(03) Karaman, Meseleler, 1/312.
(04) Qurtubi, ibid
(05) Abu Abdillah, Rahmatu'l-Umma, 373.
(06) Qurtubi, VI/287-288.
(07) ibid.
(08) Qurtubi, VI/289.
(09) As examples see, Muslim, Ashriba, 73; Abu Dawud, Ashriba, 5; Tirmidhi, Ashriba, I.
(10) Muslim, Ashriba, 7,8.
(11) Bukhari, Tafsir, (5) 10, Ashriba, 2; Muslim, Tafsir, 33, 34; Abu Dawud, Ashriba, l; Nasai, Ashriba, 20, 24, 46.
(12) Fakhruddin Razi, VI/43. '' (85) Qurtubi, III/52.
(13) Abu Dawud, Ashriba, 5; Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 3; Nasai, Ashriba, 25; Ibn Majah, Ashriba, 10.
(14) Elmalılı, H/763.
(15) Qasani,VI/ll3.
(16) Qasani, VI. l 15.
(17) Bukhari, Buyu', 3; Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 60; Musnad, III/153.
(18) Bukhari, Iman 39, Buyu', 2; Muslim, Musaqat 107, 108; Abu Dawud, Buyu', 3; Tirmidhi, Buyu', 1; Nasai, Buyu', 2; Muslim, Musaqat, 107, 108; Abu Dawud, Buyu', 3; Tirmidhi, Buyu', I; Nasai, Buyu', Qudat, II; Ibn Majah, Fitan, 14.
(19) Bukhari, Iman, 29; Nasai, Iman, 28; Musnad, V/69.
(20) Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah, II/108 (with Hamawi).

(21) As a matter of fact, the following statement of Hamdi Yazır confirms it: "Wine made of grapes and intoxicants produced from it are dirty. It is doubtful whether the other intoxicants are dirty or not. For instance, those onto whose garments wine, champagne, raki and cognac were poured should not perform prayers without washing them. However, it cannot be claimed that spirit, beer and other intoxicants harm ones prayer if they touch his clothes even if he does not drink them." (Tafsir, 11/762-763);, According to what Hayrettin Karaman quotes from a letter in his archive, the famous scholar M. Zahidu'l-Kawthari says, "To sum up, spirit is not dirty according to Abu Hanifa. His statement saves a lot of people. He says, Its odor and touching garments do not harm." (İ.l. Günün Meseleleri, 1/31.4) Abdulfattah Abu Ghudda states the following, confirming this view: "The following statement of the scholar Hisni is quoted in Durru'l-Mukhtar: There are three narrations about the intoxicants other than hamr (wine): l. They are najasah ghaliza. 2. They are najasah khafifa. 3. They are clean. According to the narration stating that they are najasah khafifa, if they cover less than one-fourth of the garment or the body, it is excused. The respectable scholar Ahmad az-Zarqa regarded them as clean and decreed fatwas accordingly. The famous scholar Kawthari says it is permissible to use intoxicants other than wine like spirit but haram to drink them. He also stated that this was the view of Imam Abu Hanife's madhhab. It is clear that the fatwas of these two respectable scholars contain ease and tolerance for people. For, these substances are used in many fields of daily life. However, it is doubtlessly better to avoid them if one can do so. For, it is controversial whether they are clean or not." (Fathu-Babi'l-Inaya, 1/258 footnote).

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