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