Is Drinking Coffee Or Caffeine HARAM Or HALAL For Muslims?
The smell of freshly-brewed coffee beans in the morning can be one of life's greatest pleasures for those obsessed with getting their morning hit of caffeine content. Believed to have originated in ancient forests in Ethiopia in the 15th century, it is now thought that coffee lovers drink an estimated 2 billion cups of coffee every single day.
However, despite its popularity in coffee houses around the world, the concept of drinking coffee often stirs debates within the Muslim community and Islamic world regarding its permissibility (halal) or prohibition (haram).
Is drinking coffee haram?
The leading argument against this popular beverage being halal arises from the presence of caffeine, a natural, mild stimulant found in coffee beans. Some religious scholars assert that anything that alters one's state of mind or leads to addiction (excessive use of a substance) is deemed haram. Consequently, they deem coffee haram due to its effect on the central nervous system, however, Islamic law says otherwise.
The argument follows that caffeine consumption may interfere with an individual's ability to maintain clarity of mind and focus on their spiritual obligations, like prayer, and preventing them from carrying out good intentions.
The effects of caffeine
In order to judge this argument, we need to fully understand the effects of caffeine on the body and mind.
Caffeine can firstly increase our breathing and heart rate, leading to a stimulating effect. In moderate amounts it can lead to increased alertness and improved cognitive function. Such effects can prove beneficial in various aspects of life, including work, education, and worship.
However, excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to negative consequences such as sleep disturbances, an 'out of control' heart rate (similar to a stimulant drug), and anxiety. So too much caffeine can also be bad for mind and body, as with most excesses in life.
The Islamic law on caffeine
When studying the Quran and authentic sahih ahadith, it is essential to understand that they do not explicitly categorise the consumption of coffee or caffeine as haram. Instead, they encourage Muslims to exercise moderation and self-control in all aspects of life (which is why the same principle is applied when discussing whether parmesan cheese is haram or halal or Haribo gummy bears). The Islamic faith advocates for the middle path, a balanced approach that avoids extremes and advises all Muslims to take care of their bodies which are given in trust from Allah.
In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it was narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
"There are two gifts which many men are unmindful about – good health and leisure."
Furthermore, Allah says in the following Quranic verses:
"And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly, He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance)." (7:31)
While caffeine itself is not explicitly mentioned in Islamic teachings, the principles of moderation and responsible consumption can be applied to its use.
Islam acknowledges the individual's autonomy and ability to make informed decisions. As long as caffeine is consumed in moderation and does not lead to addiction or harmful behaviour, it is generally considered permissible or halal.
Muslims are encouraged to exercise self-control and avoid excessive consumption that could compromise their physical, mental, or spiritual well-being. It is crucial to reflect on personal limits and exercise mindfulness in all matters, including caffeine intake.
Are energy drinks containing caffeine halal?
Energy drinks like PRIME, Red Bull and soft drinks like Coca Cola, often contain high amounts of caffeine and other stimulants and have become popular beverages in recent years.
Coffee drinkers also have a huge number of coffee brands to choose from including Starbucks Coffee, Nescafé, Tim Hortons and Dunkin who sell brew types like luwak coffee, latte and cappuccino.
If we judge them on their caffeine content alone, then energy drinks would be considered halal drinks as they don't often don't contain large amounts of caffeine. However, one must be careful not to consume these drinks on a daily basis due to the amounts of other harmful ingredients like sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial colourants.
Muslims are reminded to prioritize their health and well-being, as stated in the Quran:
"And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]" (Quran 2:195)
This verse emphasizes the importance of protecting oneself from harm.
What do Islamic religious scholars say about caffeine?
Islamic scholars hold varying opinions regarding the permissibility of consuming caffeine. While some scholars endorse its moderate use and consider it halal, others caution against excessive consumption due to potential health risks. Ultimately, the key lies in seeking knowledge and guidance from reputable scholars who possess a comprehensive understanding of Islamic jurisprudence.
One prominent scholar, Imam Shihab Al-Din, has said about coffee: "it is lawful to drink because originally all the things are lawful except that which Allah has made unlawful."
Engaging in open discussions and studying various scholarly opinions allows Muslims to make informed decisions while maintaining a connection to their faith.
So, is coffee halal?
To conclude, as there is no definitive prohibition in the Quran or authentic hadith, it can be concluded that drinking coffee and consuming caffeine is generally considered permissible (halal) in Islam.
However, moderation is paramount, and Muslims should be mindful of their caffeine intake to ensure it does not lead to harmful effects or addictive behaviour. The principles of moderation, self-control, and responsibility guide Muslims in making informed choices regarding caffeine consumption.
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