Nutmeg, the Well Known Spice, is an Intoxicant (Khamr)

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Compassionate, the All- Merciful…

Nutmeg ( جوزة الطيب ) is widely known to have intoxicating properties.

 …Nutmeg’s intoxicating properties have long been known in Europe… it has been a substitute for other substances that for one reason or another were unavailable or unaffordable. Thus prisoners, soldiers, seamen and struggling musicians were among its users… In 1946, before his conversion to Islam, Malcolm X used nutmeg whilst in jail when his supplies of marijuana ran out. In his autobiography he wrote: ‘I first got high in Charlestown [prison] on nutmeg. My cellmate was among at least a hundred nutmeg men who, for money or cigarettes, bought from kitchen worker inmates penny matchboxes full of stolen nutmeg. I grabbed a box as though it were a pound of heavy drugs. Stirred into a glass of cold water, a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers.’ When the authorities became aware of such uses of nutmeg it was removed from many prison kitchens.

Source: http://www.moodfoods.com/nutmeg/index.html (Accessed Dec. 25, 2008)

Ahmad ibn Hajr al-Haytamee (d.974), the soofee ash’aree, however an authority on the Fiqh (legal rulings) of ash-Shaafi’ee according to his later followers, seems to have the most detailed information on the topic. Thus, his words and research on the matter are important, and our scholars have quoted them.

He (may Allaah forgive him and have Mercy on him) mentioned that nutmeg is haraam (impermissible) according to the four math-habs, due to its intoxicating nature. He mentioned how the scholars have used nutmeg as a yardstick by which to judge other substances, like qaat, which leads one to understand that it was understood clearly to be an ideal example of an intoxicant. He further considered its use to be from the major sins, as it is “the use of an intoxicant”. All of this under “Major Sin #170” of his book “Az-Zawaajir” (2/417-422 of the Nazzaar Mustafaa Baaz printing)

His research was quoted by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (may Allaah have Mercy on him), and the Permanent Committee further quoted Shaykh Muhammad (quoting al-Haytamee) in their Fatwaa Compilation (22/162-168), signed by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (president), Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaaq ‘Afeefee (vice-president), and others, and dated 4/11/1376.

For the last 16 years I have not seen nutmeg (as an individual spice) for sale in Saudi Arabia, and I used to look for it in the spice section (before knowing its ruling). People have mentioned that it is not allowed in the country, except as a minor ingredient in another food product.

Our brother, Dr. Amjad Rafiq (may Allaah preserve him), has compiled some useful information from recent medical findings about the negative effects of nutmeg, including poisoning, hallucinations, and even acute psychosis. [found here]

Like any other intoxicant, nutmeg is impermissible to buy, sell, transport, store, etc. If it -or any other intoxicant- is found as a tiny amount in a much larger food or drink that has already been prepared, and the food or drink simply does not intoxicate, no matter how much is consumed, then we cannot categorize such a food or drink as an intoxicant. When determining whether something is an intoxicant or not, we judge the food or drink based on what it is now, not by its individual ingredients.

It is also important to mention that Muslims are not allowed to use nutmeg as an ingredient when making a non-intoxicating foods or beverages, since they are not allowed to purchase or own intoxicants. However, if nutmeg in small quantities is found in something which does not intoxicate, there is no harm is purchasing and/or consuming it.

And Allaah knows best.

Compiled by: Moosaa Richardson

ST Archives (12-25-2008), Modified & updated 04-26-2014, updated 11-07-2015

64 thoughts on “Nutmeg, the Well Known Spice, is an Intoxicant (Khamr)

  1. Salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Does this mean that eating foods that contain small amounts of alcohol such as chicken an pasta meals that contain wine in the sauce or desserts that have a chocolate liqueur or the likes added as ingredients are permissible to consume due to the fact that no matter how much is eaten it will never intoxicate and the food cannot be lable an intoxicant by it’s ingredient alone?

    May Allah reward you!

      • One more question, and Im not grasping at straws Im just trying to comprehend this: what is the difference between, say, nutmeg sprinkled on baklawa or a chocolate liqueur on baklawa? If they’re both khamr and we know alcohol is entirely forbidden why is nutmeg allowable to consume in small amounts?

        JazakAllahu khayran akhi, I gain great benefit from this site.

        • It is not permissible to sprinkle nutmeg on anything because it is not permissible to own nutmeg in the first place. The same goes for putting some wine or any other intoxicant into a dish. And Allaah knows best.

          • Na’am, I understand about owning it and using it. I do not own it or use it. My concern is when eating restaurant or store bought food. If it says ‘nutmeg’ in the ingredients should it be avoided entirely and should I ask if there is nutmeg in certaim items that are known to have nutmeg in them to keep from consuming it or do I consider it permissible to eat the food if the packaging says it contains nutmeg because it wont intoxicate. Alot of items have nutmeg so I just wanted to know to safeguard myself and in the process gain closeness to Allah through asking those with knowledge. Thank you for your patience on my question.

          • Wa ‘alaykumus-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. If the nutmeg is a minor ingredient which does not make the product as a whole an intoxicant, then it is no problem. From what I understand nutmeg used as a spice is usually in very tiny amounts. Again, to be absolutely clear: This is only for when the food product is already prepared. And Allaah knows best.

    • A common misconception concerns chocolate liquor, or cocoa liquor. Chocolate liquor and cocoa liquor are nothing but finely ground cocoa bean. It’s a thick, flowing substance and the first step in the production of chocolate. It has no relationship to alcohol, nor is alcohol used in producing it. They are produced from chocolate, and may be fortified with cocoa fat. Chocolate liquor can be found in chocolate bars and in chocolate flavored desserts.

  2. Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah

    Jazakallah khair brother for the article.

    A small doubt which we few brothers wanted to ask – we in Kerala, India use curry powders like Meat Masala, Tandoori Masala, etc in which there is Nutmeg as an ingredient to prepare dishes and food like Biriyani. And these curry powders are available in the Saudi Market also, specifically in stores selling Kerala products. Is using these kind of products fall under what you wrote “It is also important to mention that Muslims are not allowed to use nutmeg as an ingredient when making a non-intoxicating foods or beverages, since they are not allowed to purchase or own intoxicants. However, if nutmeg in small quantities is found in something which does not intoxicate, there is no harm is purchasing and/or consuming it.” as the food is not yet prepared ?

    Also it is used in herbal medicines wherein two tablespoon of honey is mixed with one drop of “الحبة السوداء ” and one drop of Nutmeg oil ? So is it permissible to use these kinds of medicines? [Message slightly abridged by admin]

    • As for the powdered nutmeg mixed with many other powdered spices, so long as this new powder is not easily separable, it should take the ruling of a new food item which is judged by whether or not it intoxicates as it is now, and Allaah knows best. And for nutmeg oil, then I do not know if the oil is an intoxicant or not.

  3. السلام عليكم

    In your recent audio lecture, on Tony Blair and Yasir Qadi, you mentioned that the scholars have a fatwa regarding coffee, could you elaborate upon that ruling and what is the ruling of substances such as coffee and chocolate or cacao?

    Jazāk Allahu Khairun

    • وعليك السلام ورحمة الله

      I am not sure exactly what you are referring to. If you could quote the confusing phrases, I might be able to assist, in shaa’ Allaah.

      • At 51:51 you say, “As a side note, now his (Yasir Qadi’s) embarrassment is about the Muslim scholars and their fatwas on coffee.”

        • That was a reference to some claims of Yasir Qadhi, things he extracted from some books of History to make the scholars of Islam look foolish. The apparent goal was to mention incorrect fatwas to highlight how stupid Islamic scholars can be. May Allaah protect the Muslims from this kind of speech.

  4. Salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakat, may Allah reward, bless and preserve you.

    Just on a related topic, what is the ruling on gelatin and the likes of of it where by the original ingredient is haram but the final product may not be. I saw a thread on salafitalk a while back although there wasnt a definitive conclusion on the matter.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. That is a different discussion about whether a pork by-product has changed into a new substance or not. Shaykh Muhammad ‘Umar Baazmool (may Allaah preserve him) concludes that gelatin specifically is no longer a pork by-product, but rather it is a completely new substance, having gone through the process of “istihaalah”, like when alcohol turns into vinegar, or when dung is absorbed into and becomes part of the earth. After istihaalah, the substance is not judged by what it used to be, but rather what it is now. The scholars mention this process “istihaalah” as one of the processes through which najas and haraam things become pure and halaal. And Allaah knows best.

      • A question related to topic,
        Are we allowed to eat in restaurant where nonveg is served but we arent aware if that is halaal or not so can we eat veg in those restaurant but a doubt arises that if they used the same utensils in restaurants like KFC,MACD, Dominos, pizza hut etc.
        And if the majority of community is Muslim si probably the halaal meat reaches there or if the have a certificate of halaal meat can we eat nonveg in such restaurants?

  5. What is the permissibility of cultured foodstuff such as kombucha and kefir which may have a slight alcohol content, though they are considered non-alcoholic in the west?

    • I don’t know what those things are, but whatever intoxicates in large amounts is an intoxicant and it is not permissible to eat/drink in small amounts. And Allaah knows best.

      • As-Salaamu Alaykum,

        I heard from a reliable radio program that some municipalities are considering regulating Kombucha as an alcoholic beverage because it is very difficult to monitor alcohol content. Sometimes, it is nearly as much as beer, and other times it is nearly non-alcoholic. In 2010, a prominent retailer in the US removed all Kombucha from its shelves across the country due to alcohol content in some products being tested at levels close to that of beer.

  6. As Salaamu ‘alaykum. Kefir is basically a cultured milk type of product like yoghurt, but not quite as thick. As far as Kombucha goes, it might be wise for someone with knowledge to look into. It’s been getting very popular in health food circles in the last decade, and I know Muslims who drink / drank it, and also wonder about it’s permissability. Whole Foods supposedly pulled it all from their shelves due to the alcohol content in the brands they were selling. Now they sell certain brands again for anyone to purchase (even kids). My understanding is that it depends upon how each individual manufacturer makes it, but Allaah knows best…

    • As salam wa alaykum. Can we use strepsils? – in them there is 1.2 mg of 2,4-dichlorobenzyl alcohol, per lozenge.

  7. Assalaamu Alaykum,

    Is Mace, the outer covering of Nutmeg an Intoxicant?
    I have seen this in markets here (Saudi); so is it halaal?

    Jazaakallah Khair

  8. As-Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu,

    I was explaining the content of this article to someone close to me, and they replied saying something like, “this sounds like the way the Jews talk about similar matters.” I tried commenting further, but I lack sufficient knowledge and etiquette. Can you please advise me as to a good reply? It has been stuck in my mind for a few days now, and it rubs me the wrong way. At the same time, this person is very near and dear to me, and I don’t want to be harsh or disrespectful. Is there a kind and direct way of responding? Should I ignore it? Is the comment benign?

    May Allah reward you for your efforts on the behalf of your Muslim brothers and sisters. Jazakallahu Khayran.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. I can understand someone who does not comprehend the issue very well thinking this is another attempt to find some tiny little haram food item and declare half of one’s kitchen to be haraam. That happens in the West a lot. Be patient and remind them that the information in the article is coming from the scholars of Islam, not some over-zealous ingredient watchman in the West. And Allaah knows best.

  9. Indeed all praise is for Allah the majestic. May Peace and Blessing be upon His final and our beloved Prophet and Messenger Muhammad SWSA. [sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam]
    From the biological perspective: both the Nutmeg and Mace Spice are derived from the same fruit of the same tree. As a result they both share the same chemical compounds. The three major of those shared compounds are 1. mystricin, 2. elemicin, and 3. safrole. All three compounds belong to a group of chemicals called the “aromatic ethers” and all possess “Dissociative” properties. It is those Dissociative properties that alter the Brains functions and perceptions leading to but not limited to : sensory deprivation, amnesia, dissociation, hallucinations, trances, analgesia, anesthesia, ataxia, cognitive impairment and memory impairment.
    Indeed what the Scholars of Islam has provided us with of proofs and explanation are more than sufficient and we ask Allah to Bless and protect them and us.
    We ask Allah for knowledge that is of benefit, good provisions, and actions that will be accepted.

  10. Assalamu alaikum. Thank you for writing this article. I think very few Muslims are aware of the prohibition on nutmeg. However, the availability or otherwise of any substance in Saudi Arabia is hardly an argument which strengthens the Islamic evidences… [response abridged by admin]

    • Wa alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Its just an anecdote and an answer to a Saudi mystery for some (Why can’t I find it in the spice section?), not an argument to strengthen evidences.

  11. Assalaamu Alaykum,
    May Allah reward you brother.
    Is not very clear to me whether we can or can not consume products like chocolates or ice cream,or other sweets, that have vanilla extract as a flavouring?

    • wa ‘alaykis-salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. If the food item contains a pork product, any amount, then it is haraam. If it contains “alcohol” or other ingredients which may be intoxicants in and of themselves, then the product is judged by what it is now. If the chocolate intoxicates you when you eat a lot of it, then a little of it is haraam. If it does not intoxicate you, then it is not considered a khamr (intoxicant). And Allaah knows best.

  12. salaam alaykum,

    I just read this article but I have some food that contains nutmeg in my freezer.
    can I still eat it or must I throw it away?

    djazaak Allaahu khayran

    • wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. If the food item containing nutmeg (or any other intoxicant) intoxicates you when consumed in large quantities, then a small amount of the item is haraam. If not, then it is not considered an intoxicant. And Allaah knows best.

  13. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu: Can you inform us about the Mono & Diglycerides found in most bread and snack foods. From the limited research that we have done, we have found that in the U.S. most M&D’s come from pork due to the fact that it is cheaper for the manufacturer. Baraka Allahu Feek, May Allaah preserve you and increase you in knowledge, ameen.

    • ERm, in the U.K., they don’t use them from pork because they are more expensive! We have indeed been favoured! Unsure in the US. If it says Suitable for vegetarian then it should be fine regardless as they won’t be from pork. I am unsure about food standard laws in the U.s. Perhaps it would be a good idea to research them and research what suitable for vegetarian means according to US law?

  14. SlaamunAlaikum

    totally unrelated to the topic but I think a bit relevant.

    u mentioned that nutmeg has been taken off the markets which is good but what about other things that contain haraam substances?

    One particular item (a watch) bought by a friend of mine in a market in [a city]. it had a leather strap which was made of pig leather.

    what happened in this case? the quality police being negligent? or not bothered by things of that ilk?

    can this website highlight this kind of issues to the people concerned, please? [Abridged by admin]

    • Wa ‘alaykum salaam wa rahmatullaah. These issues when found in Muslim countries are dealt with by reporting them to the authorities, not by discussing them in public. Document the complaint, provide picture evidence of things when possible, witnesses and contact information when appropriate, and contact me privately about violations in Saudi Arabia. MR at bakkah net. I am not a person in any type of authority myself, however I know people who are, and I can translate the complaint and help it get handled by the right people, in shaa’ Allaah. And Allaah knows best.

  15. Assalammualaikum wa rahmatulllahi wa barakatuh,

    Knorr ready-to-cook products I have bought ,contain “wineextract” (powder, and mixed with other ingredients or spices). As far as I can understand from the above texts, I can safely say that These mixed-powder-stuff are permissible to eat, is it correct ?

    JazakAllah khair, and wassalammualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

  16. What is the ruling of usage,selling,purchasing of medicines(sedatives,Anti depressants,Pshycotic drugs) like
    clonazepam,
    diazepam (Valium)
    estazolam (Prosom)
    lorazepam (Ativan)
    nitrazepam (Mogadon)
    oxazepam (Serax)
    chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    alprazolam (Xanax)etc…

  17. As-Salàmu ‘alaykum Ustàdhah Moosaa. Hayàk Allaah. I wanted to know if Poppy seeds are halal to consume. It has been communicated that they may be related to opium or that if one consumes them they may test positive for opioids in their system. I have also read a suggestion that they can be used as sedatives. Are poppy seeds halal or are they similar to nutmeg? Bàrak Allaahu feek.

  18. Assalamo Alaikom wa Rahmatullah. Ustaadh. Waffaqakallah. Please advise whether coffee (percolated) is permissible for children to drink? Not the expensive stuff, just instant coffee. By children I mean 18mths +. If not, why not?

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Coffee is halaal, and something halaal is generally allowed for people of any age. It may not be the best for a child’s health, and some cultures may view it as being inappropriate, yet halaal is halaal. And Allaah knows best.

  19. Assalamu Alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakathuh
    Hafidhakumullaah.
    You have taught us that a food item is not judged on the basis of individual ingredients but based on what it is right now.my doubt is, what about other items. I don’t use sprays because I see Alchohol as ingredient. And i wish to buy a hair cream but on the bottle i saw the name of some varient of alcohol as ingredient. My wife who is a chemistry graduate, said alchohol has millions of types. So i wish to know all of them are haraam? Also about using the hair cream halal? (name:parachute after shower ). Jazakallah khair.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Judge the spray, the hair cream, and everything else as a khamr or not by what it is now, not by the individual ingredients. May Allaah give you success.

      • With all due respect ustadh, how can one judgea hair cream or deodorant or perfume etc as an intoxicant?
        It is a serious question, I don’t intend to mock. Like in not going to taste it etc and I doubt the company will tell you

        • No matter what substance it is – solid, liquid, gas, whether swallowed, sniffed, applied to skin, or whatever – if a lot of it intoxicates you, then a small amount of it is haraam. If you are concerned about a specific item, then google “Does ____ get you high?” and someone on this planet, from those most focused on finding different kinds of methods of intoxication, will have a discussion about how it is used to intoxicate. And Allaah knows best.

          • So using say for example a gas intoxicant for chemical purposes is Haram? And uses a intoxicant which is solid for makeup is Haram?

  20. Bismillah,
    Assalamu alikum

    Brother,
    I would like to know about the ruling on using Baking Powder in food products.
    Baking powder contains Potassium bitartrate, along with other ingredients. Potassium bitartrate is obtained as a side product/residue during wine making.
    So, what will be the ruling on using Baking powder.
    JazakAllah Khayr

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. If baking powder intoxicates when a large quantity is used, then it is an intoxicant. If not, then it is not an intoxicant. And Allaah knows best.

  21. AslamaAlykom Ustaad.I have a question regarding food colouring.Is it permissable to eat the red food stuffs which are coloured using insects ? I think they use it m’ n’s and skittles.JazakAllah khair

  22. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    أحسن الله إليك
    I want to ask,
    A few days ago my aunty had sent me a pack of spices(Arabic spices,somekinds like Bahaarat or Rash el hanouts),for make some foods like qabuli rice or maraq etc.My aunty made it by herself and I’d knew it if she used nutmeg in it,because in my country,nutmeg sold in the markets very common and usually used as a spice.A lot of muslims people didn’t know about the rules from the scholars about this spice.
    My question is,what should I do with the spices that my aunty had given to me?Should I throw it into the garbage,or may I use it for cooking?One pack of Arabic spices contains : cumin,nutmeg,corriander seeds,pepper etc,all of them already grounded.
    جزاك الله خيرا وبارك الله فيك

    • وعليك السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

      Pour out the nutmeg (dispose of it), like how the Companions poured out their wine when they learned it was prohibited. May Allaah make us closer to them in beliefs and practice, and Allaah knows best.

  23. I emailed a halal organisation here in South Africa (sanha – south african national halaal authority) regarding this article and this is what they had to say… [message truncated by admin]

    • Pardon us for not approving the quote. We are not interested in spreading confusion. We have presented the issue, from classical math-habs, all four of which prohibit nutmeg as an intoxicant, legendary scholars like Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem, and even the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwaa. All of this has been supported by scientific findings and even realities understood in popular culture. It is not for a Muslim to leave this level of clarity in his Religion to follow “a halal organisation in South Africa”. Quite simply, we advise you to take knowledge from the scholars of Islam.

      • Asalaamualayikum warahmatullah wabarakatu I’m a bit confused about his nutmeg thing Ya Ustadh Moosa

        Is the nutmeg itself an intoxicating or does it become an intoxicating after a process is done to it such as fermenting? [question abridged by admin]

        • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. You are asking about “ground nutmeg” most likely. The powder which is sold in the spice section of your supermarket called “nutmeg” is simply ground nutmeg. It is a khamr itself, whether swallowed as powder or mixed into a drink, according to the scholars. Any halaal thing which ferments into an intoxicant, like apple juice or grape juice, is also classified as a khamr after fermentation. But that’s not really related to the issue of nutmeg. And Allaah knows best.

  24. Asalama aleykum, please advise on the use and administration of opioid based medications such as pethidine codeine morphine as well as those used routinely during operations for general anaesthesia ie bupivicaine, fentynl knowing full well that the purpose of these medications is to block the senses from feeling pain especially acting on those in the brain, spinal cord etc. Please may you ask the scholars, I apologise if this is not the correct platform but would like some clarification BarakAllahu feek.

  25. Bismillah
    Assalamu alaikum
    A brother is doing areacanut business.Areacanut is natural food.But here it is always used and mixed with addictive substances like gutka , panmasaala etc which can even cause cancer.Is this buisiness halaal?

    JazaakAllahu Khair

  26. Assalamu 3laikum wa ra7matullahi wa barakatuh ya a5i. I have a concern, many cosmetics contain alcohol and/or animal products. For instance, in red lipsticks, it’s so common to come across the ingredient ‘Carmine’ which is actually made from cochineal beetles. Some cosmetics may even contain pork, wa Allahu 3lam. What is the ruling on wearing such products? What is the stance of the 3lema on this affair? May Allah (Sub7anahu wa ta3la) increase us in beneficial knowledge and protect us from that which is evil, Aameen. Jazak Allah 5air.

  27. Assalam alaykum warahmatuLlahi wabarakatuHu, please I’ll like to clarify the use of powdered nutmeg as ingredients in making snacks. My wife just informed me that she uses it as part of ingredients in local Nigerian foods like puff puff, akara, moi moi etc. My question is, should we stop adding the nutmeg as an ingredient, though none of these foods intoxicate. JazaakaLlahu khayraa

  28. Asalm-o-alaylum,
    My question may not be relevant on that particular forum but i Didnt know where to put it.so,i want to Ask if is it halal to consume an animal or any animal baked product if the animal is slaughtered by a NON muslim (such as kosher meat).thanks

    • Wa ‘alaykum as-salaam wa rahmatullaah. “Kosher” is a term used to refer to products that contain meat or meat by-products slaughtered by the Jews. The Jews are Ahlul-Kitaab, as are Christians, and sp such products are halaal by clear textual evidence of the Book of Allaah. [Quran 5:5] This does not apply to non-Muslims other than Jews and Christians though. Their slaughtered meats (and the by-products of those meats) are not permissible.

      • As-Salaamu ‘alayk wa rahmatullaah,

        What about leather shoes and belts we buy and we do not know if they come from permissible slaughtered animals(i.e. by muslims or people of the book). What is the ruling on using/buying these items?

        I do not see this discussed.

        BarakaAllahu Feek

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.