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Is vanilla essence Haram?


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Author Topic: Is vanilla essence Haram?  (Read 199 times)
N. Truth Seeker
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« on: August 16, 2019, 04:37:11 pm »



As-salam Alaykum to all.




It's hard for kids as well as the elders to do without those yummy homemade cakes our moms and sisters bake in our kitchens for family get-togethers we enjoy.  Not to mention those much awaited mouth-watering ice-cream scoops the vendors sell in summer picnic spots.   Many of these delectables require good quality vanilla for flavoring that gives off its pure essence.   

Lately a lot of squabbling went on over this topic at our discussion session.  Some folks said it's Haram.  Also just as many said it isn't because it doesn't cause intoxication and neither is it meant to.  In our home, we accept the latter view.  I recall several years ago we had some sort of brief discussion on this issue here (can't locate that thread) with a very combative kicked-out member who insisted it's Haram but never logically analyzed her argument as is commonplace within the wahabi circles.

Of course we know of vanilla that's without alcohol;  most likely made with glycerin.   Our mainstream Muslim community has largely labeled that as "Halal" while the other one is labeled "Haram."   My mother and older sister have prepared various desserts at home using the glycerin based vanilla.  It doesn't carry the same vanilla flavor at all, and often there's a distinct deterioration in the taste.  So, we gave up using it.  Whatever studies we did on our own did not indicate the alcohol based vanilla as Haram in any way.  It carries no intoxicating effects nor the intent for it.    My mom and sis now use the regular vanilla and our desserts do taste different for the better.   Needless to say, if there was a genuine Haram aspect in regular vanilla, we would never even think of using it no matter how much it may improve the taste of the food.  But that kind of use of alcohol for just a bit of flavoring cooked in high temperature just doesn't convey and Haram concepts ... if one is a true follower of the Quran alone and thus guided by reason,  not by whims or traditional fads.

I would appreciate the views of Muslim Villa in as much detail as possible with some source references.   

 
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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2019, 04:52:42 pm »



Walaykum Salam, and hey brother, it's Halal.  You stated your concerns rationally and articulately.   My husband and I did some in-depth research on it quite some time ago and compiled all relevant points in a report-form which I sent to family members who too were keen to know.  Insh'Allah,  I will give you all the details as to why it's not Haram.  Just give me a day or two to find that research-writeup and post it here.   But it's Halal for sure and the sources are learned Muslims, not non-Muslims nor the hardcore salafist minds.


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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2019, 04:54:57 pm »



Allah bless you sister.   I'll be waiting for that post in this thread.   
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2019, 11:28:48 pm »

 

Wa'salam.  Me also waiting ......  Cheesy   I too agree vanilla is not Haram.  The two simple points that make it Halal are:
-   It doesn't cause intoxication if used in food for flavoring, just a few drops are used.
-   Alcohol evaporates completely while cooking or baking, leaving behind only the vanilla flavor.

More details with some evaluation would be a good idea.

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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2019, 11:32:45 pm »



Right sister, those are the two basic points in a nutshell.
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2019, 12:57:39 am »



Walaykum Salam again. 

Yes brother TS and Sis Heba.  Those two points are the most relevant.

Let me now share some detailed explanations that made a lot of sense to us and answered all our queries in regard to consumption of vanilla as Halal, not Haram.

The following are some quotes from Abdul Rehman Lomax, a learned revert who embraced Islam in 1971.

QUOTE:
The extract contains alcohol.  If one could manage to drink it, it would be intoxicating.  I have never heard of anyone drinking vanilla extract.   Alcohol is considered naajis, "filth." However, this looks to me like a hedge around the law. The actual prohibition is of "khamr," which was date-palm wine produced for consumption, for its intoxicating effect, and the sequence of the prohibition shows that it is intoxication that is being prohibited, and specifically the kind of intoxication that alcohol can induce.

Looking this up in the 'Reliance of the Traveller' by  Nuh Keller, naajis includes wine or  any liquid intoxicant.   (Nuh Keller is an American Sufi Sheikh, became Muslim in 1977 and moved to Jordan where he currently resides).

Now, this is obvious to me: the sharia is revealed, the way, and al a’malu binniyah, actions are [judged] by intention.   And then those who want rules, apply what they have from the sharia and create rules, which get more and more complicated, because life is complicated, and these rules never cover all contingencies, and often are based on weak analogies, even misunderstanding of the situations being covered. 

And, again, we can notice what happened with those who came before, who took the law and created hedges around it and hedges around those hedges, thus forbidding for themselves what God permitted, which is not approved!

Once one considers alcohol as naajis, then, of course, putting filth into food is crazy!   But there is no risk of intoxication, neither from the vanilla extract nor from vanilla flavoring, even if alcohol was used in the production of that extract.  Further, if the item is baked, whatever alcohol might be left will be removed, no discernible trace will be left, unless, say, you use a mass spectrograph, which can find almost anything in almost anything.     It would be obsessive to track down and avoid all products that include an alcoholic base.  As has been pointed out, yeast, fermenting dough, generates alcohol in yeasted bread.   This is then almost entirely burned away when the bread is baked. I have never seen any Muslim claim that yeasted bread was prohibited.

Opinions that claim that the tiniest quantity of naajis makes a thing impure are obviously out of touch with reality.   The actual classical rule requires that the thing not be sensibly altered in some way or, I would add, expected to be dangerous.  For example, water contaminated by Shigella from feces may seem pure, but is not, and is dangerous. But if that water is boiled, it would be harmless, even if the bacteria were still there, they would be dead.

So, the real issue.  Intention.   Intention is wrapped up with perception. Suppose you are cooking for someone who would react to the very idea of there being a tiny amount of alcohol.  It would be *rude* to use an alcohol based extract.  This has nothing to do with "actual naajis," and looking at the rulings described, there is no "actual naajis" in an issue.  It is all about intention and perception and relationship with God.

There may be some value produced, worth approaching the "hedge" around the law, but never forget that the hedge is just that, a hedge, not the law. Nevertheless, one who ignores the hedge and loiters near the clear boundary risks crossing it, hence the advice to avoid the doubtful.    But clearly again, in this case, the intention of making vanilla flavoring this way is not to make an intoxicant.   Products made with vanilla extract will not generally contain any noticeable alcohol, so worrying about the alcohol within them may create hardship and unnecessarily divide people.   What damages human community and creates separation actually furthers the purposes of Satan, and this is ironically behind the prohibition of khamr, because it makes people fight. 
UNQUOTE:

That was precisely in conformity with Quranic values, and logically informative.     Hope everyone got it.

Now, I quote another excerpt.  This is from Islam Q&A where all works are supervised by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid.

QUOTE:
With regard to the ruling on consuming/eating vanilla, it is permissible even though it was mixed with alcohol during preparation, for two reasons:

1.  Alcohol is not najis (impure) in a physical sense; rather it is taahir or pure  (if the aspect of intoxication is excluded).

2.  The alcohol does not have any effect on vanilla; the one who consumes it does not become intoxicated and no effect or taste of alcohol is felt when eating it.   Rather whatever may have been attached to the seeds during preparation disappears and leaves no trace in the seed after cooking.  Such a thing is not haram to consume.

(According to late Shaykh Ibn ‘Usaymeen) :  Do not think that any ratio of alcohol that there may be in a thing makes it haram; rather if the ratio is such that it will have an effect, in the sense that if a person drinks this liquid that is mixed with alcohol he will become intoxicated, then it is haram.  But if the ratio is very small and has diminished and left no trace, and it does not have any effect, then it is halal.

The Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences has researched the topic of haram substances in food and drink; among the conclusions they reached were the following:

Alcohol is not impure (najis) according to sharee‘ah.   That means, alcohol and other intoxicants are not physically impure, rather they are metaphorically impure because they are an abomination of the Shaytaan, is more correct. (This refers to the intoxication or state of drunkenness that comes from drinking regular alcohol .. and with the intention of drinking / enjoying an intoxicant).

With regard to food substances that use a small amount of alcohol in their manufacture in order to dilute some substances that are not soluble in water, such as colorings, preservatives, flavorings and so on, it is permissible to consume them because almost all of the added alcohol evaporates during the process of cooking.  (Also, the quantity of vanilla used for flavoring is very small, therefore quantity of alcohol very, very little.  No question of intoxication).

And Allah knows best.
UNQUOTE:


Alhumdulilah.   I hope this piece was clear to everyone.

Summarizing all of the above
To begin with, I would like to mention that a 120 ml bottle of vanilla extract would approximately contain 35% alcohol.    If you're baking a one-pound cake, you'll need around 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  That's a very small quantity of vanilla and a one-pound cake will have to bake in a hot preheated oven for at least 30 minutes, usually 35 minutes until sizzling hot.  No question of any bit of alcohol remaining in it.  Everything evaporates during baking.

Alcohol is simply the agent for extracting the flavor from the vanilla beans.    The alcohol burns off during the process of cooking while the flavor remains intact.  Alcohol only acts as the carrier for the flavor.    Just for readers' information, the alcohol found in most brands of vanilla is from sugar cane a.k.a. ethyl alcohol.

Ya Allah Jan, never leave us without Your Guidance.  Ameen.




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Beware!! what exactly is GELATIN ?
Grapes are much better than wine
Sugar alcohol
A question on chocolate liquor


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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2019, 04:40:47 pm »



Subhan'Allah.     That was truly helpful.  Allah Almighty bless you and may Allah Almighty bless the sources that analyzed the essential points so thoroughly in accordance to Quranic values, and therefore logically. 

It's also interesting to note that the sources who clearly see vanilla extract as Halal are people who don't reject hadith.  I mean, if a Quran alone follower had written this, the mainstream who say "O! Quranists always write such things."  Nauzbillah!   This is what the world has come to when the highest degree of wisdom, that is, following the Quran alone is viewed as something derogatory by the mainstream 'Muslims' nowadays.  But here, it's their own hadith accepting folks who are confirming vanilla essence cannot be considered Haram because of the sort of reasons mainstream Muslims are hung up on.   And again, what I mean is, the sources of the opinions you cited are hadithists, though they are apparently more thoughtful and reasonable hadithists than mainstream at large.  For example, quoting a paragraph from the works of Abdul Rehman Lomax,  "Now, this is obvious to me: the sharia is revealed, the way, and al a’malu binniyah, actions are [judged] by intention.   And then those who want rules, apply what they have from the sharia and create rules, which get more and more complicated, because life is complicated, and these rules never cover all contingencies, and often are based on weak analogies, even misunderstanding of the situations being covered."     So very true, this is precisely what's happening in the hadith school.   Although the expression he used "Innamul amalu biniyyat" (actions depend on intentions) is from hadith which is one of those rare hadith statements which is compatible with Quranic values, he apparently does not accept the hadith institution blindly.  He obviously considers it necessary to analyze the decision of the jurists and deem them acceptable only if they comply with Quranic values without any conflicts.

Many thanks again Sister Ruhi.  I will need to print this thread for our next discussion session and take up this point again as it was left inconclusive the previous time.  Also need to send it around on email of many relatives and friends. 
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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2019, 04:43:22 pm »



You are hugely welcomed brother ts.    And I totally concur with your follow-up comments.    Very rightly perceived.
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2019, 06:07:20 pm »



Excellent thread.  Everything perfectly clarified.  Anyone who doesn't understand now is because they don't want to understand on account of traditional obstinacy.  Only Allah can deal best with such folks.

I too never viewed vanilla as Haram.   I may use three or four drops of it while baking a pound cake or perhaps while making almond or vanilla fudge.  No question of intoxication at all, and additionally the vanilla evaporates - every bit - while baking or cooking. 

Thanks again Sister Ruhi and Brother TS.
 



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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2019, 06:11:04 pm »



A big welcome dear sister.  You're right, it's pointless arguing if the opposition revolves around traditional stubbornness.  It's best to leave such folks in their own devices. They will eventually have to answer to Allah.
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2019, 06:37:47 pm »



That's about the best analytical piece busting the myth dubbing vanilla as "haram."   Thanks a bundle sister Ruhi.

Brother TS, that's a very good point you gauged.  The logical argument rejecting this myth is actually presented by a few sensible ones within a large crowd guided by whimsical feelings which they stamp as 'Islamic Law' ... and of course such people view the Noble Quran as least important.   "Islamic Law" for most of them refers to the interpolated-filled man-written Shariah.
It's actually more pathetic than imagined, how deviated most so-called Muslims are.

  (23:97 Al-Mominun)
    وَقُلْ رَبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ

"And say: My Rab! I seek refuge in YOU from suggestions of the evil ones," 

Ameen.


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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2019, 06:47:20 pm »



Ameen, ameen ya Rab.

Many thanks dear sister Heba.   
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2019, 06:49:21 pm »



Ameen my dearest, dearest Allah.
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2019, 06:52:38 pm »


Ameen my Allah.

I'm glad this thread was useful for all.  I hope our guest readers also find it helpful to clarify their doubts.  Let there be no future conflicts on the use of vanilla extract in our kitchens for cooking/flavoring purposes.   Let the half-wit jurists say what they want.  That's of very little or no importance unless they speak sense with the Quran as their Benchmark.

 
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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2019, 06:54:56 pm »



Right brother, absolutely.
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