In earlier centuries, untreated water in Britain was considered so dangerous it had to be processed before it could be drunk. That type of ‘treated’ water, referred to as ‘beer’, was the staple drink of the whole population. Today, despite its purity, central Europeans claim to be concerned that chalk in their drinking water will build up in their kidneys. They claim that the beer they drink dissolves such deposits. For those who do not take alcoholic beer, a variety of non-alcoholic beers are available to fulfil this requirement. There was, however, only one beer found with a 0.0% alcohol content.
Because it genuinely has 0.0% alcohol content, is this particular non-alcoholic Malt Beverage permitted for us under Islamic law?
Four beverages are forbidden under Islamic law:
1. Wine of all types and variety, whatever they may be called.
2. Boiled grape juice – only the residual third may be drunk after two-thirds have been boiled off.
3. All intoxicants, even those not acknowledged to be wine.
All the aforementioned have been dealt with in many traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) and error-free Imams (A.S). The sources of ahadith however do not mention alcohol. This indicates that alcoholic beverages classified under points 1 or 3 are subject to the same ruling as the other items in these categories.
Although there are a few ahadith which do refer to beer as being wine, people have chosen to ignore this fact. We however cannot base our ruling on the level of alcohol of beer, because apple juice, for example, has 0.5% alcohol and milk does not turn into yoghurt without a certain percentage of alcohol present. This indicates that some alcoholic content is acceptable and does not necessarily render things impure. The discussion about alcohol-free beer is therefore baseless because alcoholic content has no relevance. The pertinent aspect is that beer, is forbidden.
A ‘remedy’ called barley water – Ma’a al-Shaeer – prescribed for a variety of ailments was
specifically required not to be brewed. As we can see, however, it does not have any relevance to beer whatsoever and it is illogical to confuse Ma’a al – Shaeer – with beer. If Holsten’s non-alcoholic malt beverage is classified under the category of, or with beer, it remains forbidden, despite it being the number one malt beverage of some Muslim – majority countries.
People can treat tap water to dissolve its chalk content, they can also avoid kidney problems
by adding lemon juice and/or vinegar to their food. This is completely safe from both religious and medical points of view. Beer is not a necessity.