Vinegar is a condiment that has been around for more than 10,000 years. But since it’s made by fermenting alcohol, the question regarding whether it is Halal or not arise frequently.
So are wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar Halal?
Is it permissible to deliberately turn wine into vinegar? And is it permissible to consume such a vinegar?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Verily, vinegar is an excellent condiment.” (reported by Muslim, No. 2051, No. 2052).
There is, however, disagreement as to whether it is permissible to consume only vinegar that has formed from wine by itself or whether it is also permissible to consume vinegar that we have voluntarily transformed from wine. Then, in the second case, if it is permissible to make vinegar by placing wine under the sun or if it is also allowed to make vinegar by adding a product to it.
A) According to one of the opinions of the Hanbalite School:
One can consume the vinegar formed by itself.
On the other hand, it is forbidden to deliberately turn wine into vinegar (both by placing the wine under the sun and by mixing a product) and we can not consume the vinegar thus formed.
This opinion is based on the following Hadith:
“عن أنس بن مالك، أن أبا طلحة، سأل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن أيتام ورثوا خمرا. قال: أهرقها. قال: أفلا أجعلها خلا؟ قال: لا“
Abu Talha questioned the Prophet concerning wine which orphans had inherited.
The Prophet said to him, “Throw it away.” “Shall I not make vinegar?” “No” (reported by Abu Daudi, No. 3675).
The reasoning behind this opinion is that it is forbidden to keep (iqtinâ ‘) wine at home, even if it is with the intention of turning it into vinegar. Whoever keeps it at home and voluntarily turns it into vinegar has therefore done a prohibited action. However, the result obtained as a result of a prohibited action cannot, for this school of thought, be lawful. The vinegar thus obtained is therefore not allowed to be consumed (see Majmu ‘ul-fatâwâ 21/503).
As for the Hadith where the Prophet considered vinegar as lawful (reported by Muslim), it refers to vinegar that has formed itself
B) According to the Shâfi’ite school, one of the opinions of the schoolMâlikite and according to another opinion of the Hanbalite school:
One can consume the vinegar formed by itself, as well as the vinegar formed by deliberately put in wine under the sun.
On the other hand, it is forbidden to deliberately transform wine into vinegar by adding a product in it, and we can not consume the vinegar thus formed.
This opinion is also based on the Hadith evoked: Abu Tal’ha asked the Prophet about the wine inherited by the orphans. The Prophet said to him, “Throw it away.” “Shall I not make vinegar?” “No” (reported by Abu Daoud).
However, the scholars who are of this opinion understand this negation of the Prophet as relating to the question of making vinegar by adding a substance to it. On the other hand, say that placing the vinegar under the sun is comparable to the fact that the wine has turned by itself into vinegar.
C) According to one of the opinions of the Mâlikite school:
It is forbidden to turn the wine into vinegar, but if it is done anyway, the vinegar thus formed is lawful to consume (al-jawaz ma ‘al-karacha).
This other opinion from the Mâlikite school stems from a particular way of reconciling the Hadith reported by Abu Talha – “Shall I not make vinegar?” – No (reported by Abu Daoud) and the Hadith inducing the lawfulness of vinegar – “Verily, vinegar is an excellent condiment” (reported by Muslim).
The Hadîth recounted by Abu Tal’ha (and reported by Abû Dâûûd) concerns the action of turning wine into vinegar – this action is therefore prohibited. However, vinegar, that was still formed so, is lawful for consumption, according to the generality of the Hadith reported by Muslim.
Ibn Hazm of the Zahirite school is perhaps (wallâhu a’lam) of this opinion too, since he wrote that it is forbidden to make mur’y (we will see below what it is) because the Muslim must imperatively overturn
any wine he has in his possession. But if a Muslim has tried to make vinegar anyway and when observing the container used and its contents, there is no wine left, then the mur’y thus obtained is Halal (Al-Muhalla, 12 / 377-378, Masala No. 2298).
D) According to the Hanafite School:
It is allowed to turn wine into vinegar and it is allowed to consume the vinegar thus formed.
Abu Hanîfa thinks that the wine that has turned into vinegar has changed in nature (istihâla) and has become lawful. He also thinks that it is permissible to transform wine into vinegar voluntarily because it is a correction (islah) made to an illicit thing so that it becomes precisely lawful.
The same way as it is permissible to deliberately tan the skin of a dead beast (mayta) – illicit of use before tanning – so that it becomes lawful. Making vinegar out of wine is exactly like tanning the skin of dead animals, which is allowed.
People from Shâm took a container of wine, put in it fish and salt, and put it all under the sun until the wine became vinegar; The product they named “mur’y” was consumed for its digestive properties.
Asked about this “mur’y”, Abu-d-Dardâ ‘says: “ذبحت خمرها الشمس والملح والحيتان”: “The sun, the salt and the fish have slaughtered the wine” (Fat’h ul-Bârî 9/764: “slaughtered wine” is a metaphor, in which the word “slaughter” – “dhabaha” – was used to say “made halal”, just as slaughtering a lawful animal renders its flesh halal to consume: Ibid.).
According to another explanation, it was not systematic that fish and salt were added in the preparation of the “mur’y” (Ibid.). This is
perhaps why Abu-d-Dardâ has different statements while ‘justifying its halal character:
- A statement which asserts that it is the sun, the fish, and the salt that made it lawful, like the one we quoted (Fat’h ul-Bârî 9/764);
- Another statement that it was the sun and the fish that made it lawful (quoted by al-Bukhârî ta’lîqan, kitab us-sayd wa-dh-dhabâ’ïh, bāb 12);
- Finally, another subject which evokes the fact that it was the sun that made it lawful (Fat’h ul-Bârî 9/764); this last statement does not contradict the opinion of the Shafi’ite school.
Anyway, Abu-d-Dardâ ‘and other Companions considered that the “mur’y” is halal (Fat’h ul-Bârî 9/764).
(Ibn Shihâb, who was of the opinion that only the wine having turned by itself into vinegar is Halal, thought for its part that one should not consume “mur’y” made from wine put to transform ( ibid.).)
But what does Abu Hanîfa say about the Hadith of Abu Talha?
True to his interpretative tradition “ahl ur-ra’y”, he reads this Hadith in the light of the general rule, which is: We know that just after the prohibition of alcohol, the Prophet, to impregnate the spirits of this prohibition, had forbidden for example to make nabdîhh (or naqî ‘) (water in which fruit soaked for a certain time but without the whole being fermented) in certain particular receptacles (ad-dubbâ ‘, al-hantam, al-muzaffat, an-naqîr).
But later he allowed us to make nabhîdh even in these vessels, just adding “Do not drink intoxicating”: “ونهيتكم عن الأشربة أن تشربوا إلا في ظروف الأدم; فاشربوا في كل وعاء, غير أن لا تشربوا مسكرا” (reported by Muslim, 977, 1977, Abu Daudi, 3698, this is the version of Abu Daoud which has been reproduced here).
This is an indication that during the progressive prohibition of alcohol even lawful things that may lead to a “relapse” were prohibited, before being, some time later, declared again lawful.
Abu Hanîfa therefore thinks that the Hadith of Abu Talcha was probably said during the period immediately following the prohibition of alcohol: it was to impregnate the spirits of the duty to get away from alcohol.
Furthermore, another Hadîth exists where we read: “عن أبي طلحة أنه قال: يا نبي الله, إني اشتريت خمرا لأيتام في حجري. قال: أهرق الخمر, واكسر الدنان”: Here Abu Tal’ha asked the Prophet about wine he had bought for orphans in his charge, and the Prophet said to him, “Throw the wine and break the containers” (reported by at-Tirmidhi, no. 1293).
So you see: No jurist thinks it is obligatory to break the container of the wine; all know that it was a measure designed to make a good impression. The ban on making vinegar with wine voluntarily seems to be the same type according to Abu Hanîfa.
Those of the scholars who think it is permissible to turn wine into vinegar are still of the opinion that it is forbidden for the Muslim to buy wine or any other alcohol. Their opinion regarding vinegar processing therefore applies to a case other than the one where we will have recourse to a purchase of wine in order to transform it into vinegar.
My sources for this article:
Al-Fiqh ul-Islami wa adillatuh, pp. 2629-2631 – Fatâwa mu’âssira, volume 3 pp. 559-564 – A’lâm ul-muwaqqi’în, volume 2 pp. 292-293 – Bidayat ul-mujtahid, volume 2 pp. 879-880.
Wallâhu A’lam (God knows better).
Types of Vinegar:
Considering the above, it’s safe to assume that while most commercial vinegars are deliberately transformed, it’s Halal to consume most of them.
However, two types of vinegar are considered Haram and they are Balsamic vinegar and wine vinegar.
Vinegar can be made from any food that contains natural sugar, thus we have different types of vinegar:
Mainly used for cleaning, is the most common vinegar. It is made by turning grain-based ethanol into vinegar or from laboratory-produced acetic acid.
This vinegar is considered Halal and we have some that are Halal certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) or considered as Halal by the Muslim Consumer Group:
This type of vinegar is made from white or red wine and mainly used in cooking. It is considered Haram
This is another vinegar that is considered Haram as it is an aged vinegar that contains wine.
Apple cider vinegar
It is made from apple cider and has many health benefits.
It is considered Halal and if you’are in any doubt you can pick one with a Halal certificate to ensure there’s no alcohol left in the vinegar.
Corn and malt vinegar are other types of vinegar that are considered Halal.