Inhaling breath of alcohol drinker
Fatwa No: 334495

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. Dear Shaykh, when someone drank alcohol and stands near to us, we can smell the scent of alcohol. Is it haram to inhale that smell? Sometimes, it is difficult to avoid that smell, especially when they talk to us or stay in our room or the like. What should we do on such occasions?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is well known to the Muslim that alcohol is the mother of all evils and that consuming it is one of the grave, major sins. A person who is afflicted by it must quit consuming it and hasten to repent from it. Allah says (what means): {O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.} [Quran 5:90]

What you have to do is to condemn this evil according to your ability; if you can drive this person out of your room or desert him and not keep his company, then you have to do what you can in denying his evil deed, the least of which is to detest what he is doing within your heart.

You also have to advise this person, as it has been confirmed that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "Religion is sincere advice.” [Muslim]

If you do what you can of this, then Allah does not burden any soul beyond its ability, and the burden of his sin falls on him alone. Allah says (what means): {…and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.} [Quran 6:164]

An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Sharh Muslim, “If a person detests (something in his heart), then he is acquitted from sin; this means that whoever hates that evil, then he is acquitted from its sin and punishment. This applies to someone who is not able to deny it with his hand, or his tongue, so he should detest it within his heart, and he will be acquitted (from sin) then.

If there is a necessity to mix with the sinner, then there is nothing wrong with that provided that this should be done only according to the necessity, and the necessity should be valued according to its proper value.

As regards what you mentioned regarding inhaling the smell of alcohol when this person is close to you, then you are not sinful for it.

Allah knows best.

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