Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Giving away questionable candy

As I understand, 'ethyl vanillin' contains ethyl alcohol which is najas in the Shafii mathhab.  Can candies or sweets containing ethyl vanillin be given to Hanafis or Malikis who don't consider their to be any problems with consuming ethyl vanillin, or since we consider it to be haram is it also haram to give.

The short answer is that you give it away as sadaqa.

But if you want a longer answer:

If you obtained the candy from a Muslim, we have to assume that it is pure. Unless there is something to make you sure that one of its ingredients is filth (such as reading the label) then the assumption that the candy is pure must be given precedence. This is similar to all issues involving filth, such as dogs: a pure item remains pure until you are certain that it has been made filthy. This is for two fiqh-ish principles: (1) we assume that someone that was at a given point in time was that way in previous times and in following times as long as there is no evidence to indicate otherwise [istishab], and (2) that something uncertain does supercede something that is certain [al-yaqin la yuzal bi al-shakk]. So unless you read the ingredients for that particular kind of candy, have some other means for knowing how it was made, or know for a fact that all candies contain a certain filthy ingredient, we have to assume that the candy is pure.

As for making a gift of candy containing filth, one of the general guidelines in the Shafi`i madhhab is that everything which is permissible to buy is permissible to give away. Since filth is impermissible to buy, it means that it is also impermissible to give away. Even if it were permissible, we need to remember that a verbal offer and acceptance is necessary for giving a gift to even be valid, just as with buying and selling. Imam Al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy upon him) is cited to have said that it is permissible to make sadaqa of things that are filthy. A verbal offer and acceptance are not conditions for sadaqa.

So while it does not appear to be permissible to give something filthy as a gift, it does appear permissible to make sadaqah of it. And Allah knows best.

 And Allah knows best.

[Sources: Mughni Al-Muhtaj (2:399-400), Kifayat Al-Akhyar (bab al-hibah), Anwar Al-Masalik Sharh `Umdat Al-Salik]

As for the Hanbali madhhab, one of the general guidelines is that it is permissible to give away any item which is permissible to sell, and that it is also permissible to give away filth which is permissible to make use of, such as a trained dog. In this the Hanbalis broader than the Shafi`is. But what permissible use is there for a filthy piece of candy? Also, something indicating an offer and acceptance is required, though it need not be verbal. In the section on sadaqa I have not found any conditions that prevent someone from giving away things that are filthy.

So while it is permissible to make a gift of something that is filthy provided it is useful, it does not appear that a filthy piece of candy fulfills this requirement. However, there does not appear to be anything to prevent one from giving away the candy as sadaqa.

And Allah knows best.

[Sources: Al-Raud Al-Murbi` (bab al-hibah) p325-27, ibid (kitab al-bay [al-shurut]) p229, ibid (kitab al-saum); Nail Al-Ma'arib -- same sections; Ghayat Al-Muntaha (bab al-hibah)]

But this begs a question: how it is possible to own something that is also impermissible to give away? So what exactly is the relationship between a Shafi`i or Hanbali and this candy that he wants to give away?

Now that all of this has been said I would like to ask two small questions: If Imams Abu Hanifa or Malik were in front of you and asked for this piece of candy after you told them that it contained this ethyl vanillin, would you hesitate to give it to them? And if they wanted to give you a candy containing it, would not accept immediately?

And Allah knows best.

wa al-salamu `alaykum