I would like to know if vanilla extract is permissible. Some scholars say that it is ok because when you cook with it may transform into a state where it is not intoxicating. Could you tell me the main principle regarding alcohol in islam?
Is it that no matter how small the amount of alcohol there is it is haram because it intoxicates in a large amount?
Or is it that even if there is a small amount of alcohol it is ok to consume because it does not intoxicate?
I'm very confused about this topic so could you please help me find some evidence in Quran or hadith that answers my questions.
In the name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Most Kind.
It depends; if the vanilla extract contains ethyl alcohol then it is haram. Ethyl alcohol a derived from ethanol which Is haram for Muslims to deal with.
Regarding your questions, Allah says in the Holy Qur’ân: “They ask you regarding wine and gambling. Say, in both of them is major sin, and there is some benefit for men, but the sin of them is far greater than benefit” (Surah Baqarah - 219)
Also, the Prophet Muhammad (swa) also instructed the Sahabas, to avoid any intoxicating substances -- (paraphrased) "if it intoxicates in a large amount, it is forbidden even in a small amount."
In other books of Hadith like "Al-Mustadrak", "Al-Musnad", it is narrated from many Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that he said: "Allah cursed alcohol. He cursed its distiller, the one it was distilled for, the one who drinks it, the one who carries it, the one to whom it is carried, the one who sells it, the one who consumes its price, the one who buys for it, the one who buys it … etc.”
Therefore, if there is a doubt as to whether it contains alcohol or not, it is better for you not to use it.
Allah knows best.
Imam of Masjid Manhattan