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Can we use vinegar?

All praises be to Allaah, Lord and Sustainer of the worlds, and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and upon his family and companions.

When wine turns to vinegar by itself, without any deliberate treatment needed for it to be changed, it is permissible to eat, drink and handle it, according to the consensus of the scholars.

But if the wine is converted to vinegar by a deliberate process, then according to correct scholarly opinion, it is not permissible.

The evidence for that is the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked whether wine could be changed to be used as vinegar. He said, ‘No.'

(Reported by Muslim)

Abu Talhah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked about some orphans who had inherited some wine. He said, “Pour it away.” He was asked, “Could they not make it into vinegar?” He said, “No.”

(Reported by Muslim)

Since it is haraam for Muslims to have anything to do with alcohol, we would not have wine in our possession in the first place, to allow it to turn to vinegar, but we can buy vinegar from a non-Muslim as long as it is not converted through a deliberate process. However, if we know that it has been made through a deliberate process, as is the case of all commercially available vinegar, it would not be permissible to buy it or use it, this is why Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said; “there is no blame on a Muslim if he buys vinegar from a dhimmi, as long as it has not been converted deliberately.” Whether it is cider, malt vinegar or spirit vinegar, these are all made from alcohol and every alcohol is intoxicant and has the same ruling.

It would not make any difference if the intention of the starting of the fermentation process was to make vinegar and not alcohol, because all vinegar has to be alcohol at some stage, and once it is alcohol, then converting the alcohol to vinegar is what is not permissible because the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) did not permit that.

And Allah the Most Knowledgeable knows what is best and most correct