These days we have often way too many perfumes that the manufacturers claim to be alcohol-free and can be worn by Muslims for prayers.Being a curious Muslim I am, I have been interested to further look into the concept of these claims and investigate why exactly they said that alcohol-free perfumes are safe to be worn for prayers, here assuming that alcohol-contained perfumes are not. After careful research, I could come out with this short-to-me-long-for-you explanations.
So here goes.
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First thing first, alcohol is not filth, unless it is produced from filth materials - your turds, for example.
Alcohol, being any organic compound which a hydroxyl functional group is bonded to an elemental atom of carbon (C-O-H) has been widely produced these days from many ways. The most common way of production is through fermentation of sugary materials, followed by ethylene (or other alkenes) hydrolysis where the latter method is mostly used to crack heavy hydrocarbon elements in crude oil.
It is widely understood in the Muslim world where the law concerning the consumption of alcohol states that doing such is forbidden or haraam. To further investigate this, the Arabic word used to represent alcohol that we often understood as alcoholic beverages is khamr, or intoxicating materials. Here is where the issue is further questioned: was it just alcohol, or not? No, it wasn't only alcohol. It covers everything that intoxicates human body function, including drugs and poisons. Consuming these will be forbidden for they causes harm to your bodies.
And this may go down to individual level. Plain water might not be forbidden to be consumed but if you start to experience deliriums and you start to get high or something from consuming it, then it's haraam for you, buddy. Consume here does not mean only by digestion, but also in inhalation and other ways by means of using all the senses you have. For instance, if you touch a metal pole and suddenly get high from it, then it's forbidden by Islamic Law. Simple.
Therefore, for every perfume that contains alcohol, as long as this elements of alcohol did not come from filthy stuffs - your turds, for example - and by consuming (drinking, smelling, touching, seeing or hearing WTF) it does not make you high or something, then it is clear for wear for every occasion.
For further reading: Alcohol In Islam
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So the question is, why would people promote the tagline "Alcohol-free Perfumes"? I don't know about you but my speculation can only lead me to only one solution:
"Better sales this month. $$."
But I might be wrong. So enlighten me, people!