If a cake has an ingredient called vanilla essence which contains alcohol and when the cake is baked, the alcohol evaporates, so that the alcohol is not present at the point of consumption. Would this cake be permitted to consume?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

If this is intoxicating alcohol that has been added and not naturally occurring then it is impure and thus prohibited.


يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O you who believe. Indeed wine, gambling, (sacrificing to idols upon) altars and divining arrows are impurity from the (evil) work of Shaytaan. Shun them, so that you may succeed. (Surah al-Maidah, 90).

Firstly, we must check to see which type of alcohol this is. If it is not intoxicating alcohol then there is no concern, see the link below for a more detailed answer regarding this issue.

If it is an intoxicating alcohol and it has been added to the product, and is not naturally occurring, then it is a concern, since intoxicating alcohol is an impurity (as seen in the Ayah above). Some scholars have mentioned processes for purifying it, however the strongest opinion in the Hanafi Madhab says such foods cannot be purified.

فِي الظَّهِيرِيَّةِ: وَلَوْ صُبَّتْ الْخَمْرَةُ فِي قِدْرٍ فِيهَا لَحْمٌ إنْ كَانَ قَبْلَ الْغَلَيَانِ يَطْهُرُ اللَّحْمُ بِالْغَسْلِ ثَلَاثًا، وَإِنْ بَعْدَهُ فَلَا. وَقِيلَ يُغْلَى ثَلَاثًا كُلَّ مَرَّةٍ بِمَاءٍ طَاهِرٍ وَيُجَفَّفُ فِي كُلِّ مَرَّةٍ، وَتَجْفِيفُهُ بِالتَّبْرِيدِ. اهـ. بَحْرٌ. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

And in al-Dhaheeriyah (he said), if wine is poured into a pot containing meat, then if it has not been boiled then it can be purified by washing thrice. However, if it is after it (boiling) then it is not (purified). And it has been said, boil it three times, each time with fresh water and dry it each time, and it is dried by cooling it. (Radd al-Muhtaar).

In the above Nass (text) we see some opinions narrated by Imam Ibn Abideen concerning the purification of food that has been mixed with wine. However, he makes it clear that these opinions are not the position of the Madhab.

قُلْت: لَكِنْ يَأْتِي قَرِيبًا أَنَّ الْمُفْتَى بِهِ الْأَوَّلُ. وَفِي الْخَانِيَّةِ: إذَا صَبَّ الطَّبَّاخُ فِي الْقِدْرِ مَكَانَ الْخَلِّ خَمْرًا غَلَطًا فَالْكُلُّ نَجِسٌ لَا يَطْهُرُ أَبَدًا، وَمَا رُوِيَ عَنْ أَبِي يُوسُفَ أَنَّهُ يُغْلَى ثَلَاثًا لَا يُؤْخَذُ بِهِ، وَكَذَا الْحِنْطَةُ إذَا طُبِخَتْ فِي الْخَمْرِ لَا تَطْهُرُ أَبَدًا. وَعِنْدِي إذَا صُبَّ فِيهِ الْخَلُّ وَتُرِكَ حَتَّى صَارَ الْكُلُّ خَلًّا لَا بَأْسَ بِهِ. اهـ. فَمَا مَشَى عَلَيْهِ الشَّارِحُ هُنَا ضَعِيفٌ. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

I say, it will be mentioned shortly that the Fatwa (strongest opinion) is the first. In Khaniyah (he said), if a cook mistakenly pours wine into a pot instead of vinegar, then it all becomes impure and can never be purified. And that which has been narrated from (Imam) Abu Yusuf, (namely) boil it three times, is not to be acted upon. Likewise wheat, if it is cooked in wine then it will never be purified. And with me, if vinegar is poured into it and then it is left until it becomes vinegar then it is permitted (end quote). So, what the commentator (Imam al-Haskafi) has mentioned here is weak. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).  

So, according to the strongest opinion in the Hanafi Madhab such food cannot be purified and must be disposed of, as explained by Imam Ibn Abideen above.

This is in fact a complicated issue and students must study other related issues to understand it correctly. Muslims must study the Deen in a comprehensive manner, including a thorough study of Fiqh. Often Q and A is not helpful when it relates to complicated issues if one has not studied them more holistically and it can actually lead to greater confusion or misunderstanding. This is why Q and A should be seen as a supplementary means of learning, and not a substitute to formal lessons.

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen (15.06.2021)

See also:

Are synthetic alcohols impure?

Is it sufficient to learn the Deen through Q&A only?

See also (video):