24 Aug 2011 12:41 GMT
A disagreement has taken place regarding using nutmeg in cooking. One group says that since a little bit of nutmeg is not intoxicating and that cake that it is being used in will not ever be intoxicating, no matter how much is eaten, that it is allowed to be used. This group pointed to the article on the IslamToday site about non-alcoholic beer being allowed as support for this. Another group understands from the hadeeth of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah upon him, that if a lot of a substance causes intoxication, a little is not allowed to be used, and therefore nutmeg should not be used in any quantity, since it is a hallucinating substance. There is a fatwa from a scholar saying it should not be used because it could cause addiction. Could you please give the ruling on nutmeg?

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

With respect to baked goods and foodstuffs on the market that already contain nutmeg, they are permitted since there is no way for those goods to cause intoxication, even if large quantities are consumed. Nutmeg is not an impure substance under any circumstances, so the issue of impurity does not even come up. Therefore, a Muslim can certainly eat food that has a little bit of nutmeg already in it.

As for using nutmeg oneself – this matter depends on whether we regard it as an intoxicant comparable to wine and hashish.

Dr. Ira Shafran of Ohio State University Hospitals says the following about nutmeg:

It is interesting that nutmeg was first introduced into Europe as early as the 12th century and the first case reports of documented intoxication appeared in the late 16th century. The symptom complex of nutmeg intoxication has been well described by several authors in the earlier literature. These episodes typically occur three to six hours after ingestion of 5 to 15 g of grated nutmeg spice (equivalent to approximately 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls) and include tachycardia, cutaneous flushing, absent salivation and central-nervous-system excitation, including hallucinations, delusions, agitation, apprehension and, rarely, overt psychosis. These features strikingly resemble the classic signs of atropine intoxication, the differential clue being constriction of the pupils seen early in nutmeg intoxication as opposed to the dialed pupils seen in belladonna overdose. These central-nervous-system effects may be related to the structural similarity of other serotonin antagonists known to have hallucinogenic potential.

The effects of consuming sufficient quantities of nutmeg to bring on a state of intoxication similar to that of marijuana – usually at least three whole seeds – are so terribly unpleasant that it is not generally used as a means of intoxication. These effects include hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, severe thirst, anxiety, immobilization, and sometimes unconsciousness. This is one of the reasons why it is not illegalized by the laws of many countries.

The severe impracticality of using nutmeg as an intoxicant may explain why a number of classical Islamic scholars who, while acknowledging the intoxicating potential of nutmeg, still permitted the use of it in small quantities.

These scholars include Ibn Farhûn and other Mâlikî jurists. [Mawâhib al-Jalîl (1/90)]

They also include the Shâfi`î jurist al-Ramlî, who states: “It is permissible to use a little bit, but unlawful to use a lot.” [Fatâwâ al-Ramlî (4/71)]

We can conclude the following:

1. The use of nutmeg with the intention of producing an intoxicating effect is unquestionably prohibited. This will include any misuse of nutmeg for any purpose – including the direct consumption of a sufficient quantity of pure nutmeg.

2. The purchase, sale and consumption of food products on the market containing small quantities of nutmeg is lawful, since such food products themselves have no potential to intoxicate even if large quantities are consumed.

3. The purchase, sale, and use of pure nutmeg among Muslims as a seasoning for foods and beverages is a question that warrants further investigation. It remains a point of contention among scholars. It depends on whether nutmeg is to be regarded properly as an intoxicant from an Islamic legal standpoint. It could be argued that use of nutmeg as an intoxicant is so impractical because of its severe side effects, that its sale and use by Muslims for cooking could be regarded as lawful.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

-- Al Arabiya Digital