10th November 2014
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
Question: What is the Islamic ruling on using alcohol based sanitizers which according to experts, is an effective anti-bacteria as well as a disinfecting substance preventing the transmission of disease?
الجواب حامداً و مصلياً
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Hand sanitizers or hand antiseptics are used as an alternative to hand washing with soap and water. Most of the sanitizers come in various forms such as liquids, foam and gel and contain around 70-80% ethanol alcohol combined. Alcohol free sanitizers are even available but not as common as alcohol-based ones, because alcohol-based sanitizers are considered to be more effective in killing germs quicker compared to non-alcohol based ones and moreover, it enhances hygiene.  This is why they are more popular in hygienic environments such as hospitals.
The Islamic Ruling on Alcohol based Sanitizers
The ethanol alcohol contained in hand sanitizers is generally the denatured form and is the result of chemical process. It is therefore pure and can be used as a disinfectant product to eliminate germs. They are generally provided in hospitals so to uphold hygiene especially when coming in contact with patients. One can also apply the rule of Umoom Balwa (public predicament) which according to the classical jurists is a justification for allowing leniency in rulings.
A renowned contemporary Jurist, Shaykh Mufti Taqi Uthmani states;
“The explanation given regarding alcohol that intoxicates, the usage of which has become prevalent today used commonly in medicines, perfumes and other products. (The ruling of such products is) if it (the alcohol ingredient) is extracted from grapes and dates then it cannot be regarded as permissible or pure. However, if it is from other than them (i.e. grapes and dates) then the view of Imām Abū Haneefah rahimahullah and Imām Abū Yūsuf rahimahullah can be taken, in that it is not unlawful to use it for medication or any other legitimate reasons so long as it does not reach to the level of intoxication.”
Some have stated that once the gel, liquid or foam is rubbed on to the hand, it dries within 30-40 seconds, which arguably causes the alcohol to evaporate into the air. If this is the case, then the question of prohibition and impurity would not arise at all.
In summary, there is no harm in rubbing ethanol based hand-sanitizers on to the hands and due to its purity washing the hands before reading Salāh is not necessary.
[Allãh Knows Best]
Written by (Mufti) Abdul Waheed
Answer Attested by Shaykh Mufti Saiful Islam
JKN Fatawa Department
 Takmilah Fathul Mulhim vol 3 p.608