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Fiqh of Hand Sanitizers

With the world panicking about the new, mysterious virus taking charge and restricting everyone’s mobility, several precautionary measures were circulated to prevent people from becoming its victim, one of which was the use of hand sanitizers.

Hand sanitizer is a gel-like substance applied to the hands to disinfect them. They are mostly recommended for use in two scenarios:

  1. when water and soap are unavailable
  2. when repeated hand washing causes any skin abnormality

They can be broadly classified into alcohol-based and alcohol-free sanitizers. Alcohol-based sanitizers contain between 60 to 95 percent alcohol in the form of ethanol, isopropanol, or n-propanol. As for the latter, they usually contain chemicals like benzalkonium chloride (also used in disinfectants).

The use of alcohol-free sanitizers is recommended because alcohol is prohibited and must be thrown away. It has been mentioned in the hadeeth of the Prophet of Allah ﷺ, narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri,

“We had some wine belonging to an orphan, and when al-Maa’idah was revealed (i.e., the prohibition of khamr or alcohol), I asked the Messenger of Allah about it and I said, ‘It belongs to the orphan.’ He said, ‘Pour it away.’”

[Tirmidhi 1263, Graded Sahih by Al Albaani]

When it comes to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, the alcohol in it is not consumed by drinking or eating it. It is mostly a matter of lengthy discussion. However, if the percentage of alcohol is very little, it is accepted that it is alright to use the sanitizer. Also to be noted is that if the percentage of alcohol is so much that it can be detected, it is best to not use that particular product except in cases of need, like using hand sanitizers for the purpose of sterilization.

It says in a statement of the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League: “It is permissible to use alcohol for external cleaning of wounds, to kill germs, and in creams and lotions that are used externally.” [Qaraaraat al-Majma’ al-Fiqhi al-Islami, p. 341]

Therefore, the use of hand sanitizers containing alcohol has been regarded as permissible.

May Allah ﷻ make us from those who understand Deen and grant us beneficial ‘ilm (knowledge).

 اللهم آمين

Written by: adropofhumanity and Reshma
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog

References

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/hand-sanitizer
  2. https://islamqa.info/amp/en/answers/231169
  3. https://islamqa.info/amp/en/answers/40530
  4. https://islamqa.info/en/answers/1365/ruling-on-perfumes-containing-alcohol
  5. https://islamqa.info/en/answers/147421/ruling-on-using-medicine-that-contains-menthol
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