Wearing aftershaves and perfumes that contain alcohol
Does Islam allow the wearing of aftershave and perfume that contain alcohol?
A straightforward answer to the question is that it doesn’t disallow it. Alcohol is disallowed to be consumed as a drink. If it is used for a purpose other than as an edible, there can be no objection to it. However, if the religious taste of an individual doesn’t permit him/her to go for even the non-edible uses of alcohol or any other prohibited item, it’s upto the individual.
Although there are narrations on the subject which give apparently conflicting messages, I prefer the understanding of the following narration:
“Once Allah’s Apostle passed by a dead sheep and said to the people, ‘Wouldn’t you benefit by its skin?’ The people replied that it was dead. The Prophet said, ‘But only eating it is illegal.'” (Bukhari)
The conflicting message is mentioned in the following hadith:
“I heard Allah’s Apostle, in the year of the Conquest of Mecca, saying, ‘Allah and His Apostle made illegal the trade of alcohol, dead animals, pigs and idols.’ The people asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! What about the fat of dead animals, for it was used for greasing the boats and the hides; and people use it for lights?’ He said, ‘No, it is illegal.’ Allah’s Apostle further said, ‘May Allah curse the Jews, for Allah made the fat (of animals) illegal for them, yet they melted the fat and sold it and ate its price.'” (Bukhari)
One interpretation that could help in unifying the apparently conflicting messages in the two narrations is that while the first hadith is permitting Muslims to benefit from a prohibited item (as an edible) for non-edible uses, the second hadith is prohibiting them from getting directly involved in its trade. Probably the difference lies in the fact that when one is getting involved in the trade of such items, the spirit of the prohibition gets compromised and the chances of it getting consumed as edible also increase. Allah knows best.