Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim
by Naielah Ackbarali (Ustadha Umm Ihsan)
While fasting, a fasting person must avoid:
- engaging in sexual intercourse (regardless of if ejaculation occurs or not);
- ejaculating through sexual touch (such as by foreplay, masturbation, kissing);
- swallowing their spouse’s saliva while kissing;
- taking oral medication;
- inserting suppositories;
- and entering any substance into the body cavity through a valid entry point, such as the nose, mouth, ears, private parts, head injury or open stomach wound.
If a fasting person commits any of these acts – whether deliberately, accidentally, mistakenly, or forcefully – the fast is vitiated.
There are consequences to vitiating the fast. The scholars often classify them into two categories:
- That which vitiates the fast for that day, requires its makeup, and requires an atonement (kaffara) as an expiation for the violation.
- That which vitiates the fast for that day and only requires makeup.
Category 1: Acts That Vitiate the Fast & Require Makeup & Expiation
Acts that invalidate the fast and require a makeup along with expiation only relate to the current Ramadan fasts. Otherwise, if one performs any of the following actions while performing a fast outside of the current month of Ramadan, such as a make-up fast, then the fast is vitiated and only a makeup is required. One does not owe the expiation.
If done deliberately, by one’s own free will, and without a valid reason while fasting a current Ramadan fast, the following acts invalidate the fast and require a makeup along with expiation:
1. Eating or drinking something that humans would normally consume and this consummation nourishes, medicates, or pleases the body in some way.
2. Actual sexual intercourse, in the front or rear private part*, regardless if one ejaculated or not.
3. Swallowing the saliva of one’s spouse.
*It is impermissible and a grave crime to engage in sexual intercourse from the rear private part. The Sacred Law unconditionally prohibits this type of sexual activity whether during or not during the month of Ramadan.
What Is The Expiation?
The expiation is to fast sixty consecutive days in the year without any interruption. One must choose a time where one can fast these sixty days without the days of Eid or the three days after Eid al-Adha (al-Ayyam al-Tashriq) interrupting the fasts because of the prohibition of fasting on these days. If one does not fast them consecutively, then one must restart the 60 day period each time the continuity of the fasts is broken.
The only exceptions to this rule are if one is menstruating or in a state of lochia (post-natal bleeding). A menstruating woman must continue to fast after she becomes pure, and she cannot delay the completion of the expiation. If she does delay fasting after becoming pure, then she must restart the 60 days of fasting. The same ruling applies to a woman in the state of lochia.
If one is genuinely unable to perform the sixty consecutive fasts based on reasonable surety, then one must feed the same sixty, poor people to their fill for two meals.
It is important to note that one does not have a choice between fasting sixty days and feeding sixty poor people. Rather, one is obliged to fast sixty days, unless one is genuinely unable to perform all of these fasts based on reasonable surety. Please contact a scholar for details.
One expiation suffices for all previous violations performed, even if they occurred in separate Ramadans. However, if one performed a future violation after the performance of the expiation, then a new expiation is owed.
Category 2: Acts That Vitiate The Fast & Require Make Up But Do Not Require Expiation
This category includes any act that vitiates the fast if done accidentally, mistakenly, or by force of another.
It also includes any makeup fast one vitiated while trying to make it up.
The Mouth & Throat:
- eating or drinking accidentally
- eating or drinking because one thought Maghrib entered but Maghrib did not enter
- eating or drinking because one doubted that Fajr entered but Fajr really did enter
- eating or drinking forgetfully and thereafter thinking that the fast is broken, to deliberately eat and drink again
- swallowing what is between the teeth, on the condition that it is the size of a chickpea or bigger
- swallowing a pebble or other items that people wouldn’t typically eat
- swallowing water by accident when gargling for wudu or ghusl (with the exception of water that remains in the mouth—see next category)
- swallowing blood that exits from the gums and preponderates over the saliva
- swallowing toothpaste or mouthwash
- deliberately swallowing vomit that reaches a mouthful
- deliberately vomiting a mouthful, regardless if one swallows it or not
- vomiting and thereafter thinking that the fast is broken, to deliberately vomit again
- smoke that enters the throat by one’s doing, on the condition one’s body doesn’t benefit from it
- kissing that causes one to ejaculate, on the condition one did not swallow the other’s saliva
The Private Parts:
- engaging in sexual intercourse because one still thinks Fajr has not entered but it really has
- engaging in sexual intercourse forgetfully and thereafter thinking that the fast is broken, to deliberately have sexual intercourse again
- entering a suppository into the anus
- entering something dry into the anus and it completely disappears inside the body
- entering something wet or oiled into the anus, even if it does not completely disappear inside of the body
- entering a wet tissue or a wet piece of cotton into the vagina, even if it does not completely disappear inside of the body
- entering a dry tissue or a dry piece of cotton into the vagina and it is completely inserted inside of the body without any part remaining outside
- pouring water or oil into the anus and it reaches the distance of a finger’s length
- pouring water or oil into the vagina and it reaches the distance of a finger’s length
- water used to clean the nose for wudu or ghusl reaches the throat or the brain
- inhaling medicine into the nostrils
- inhaling smoke by one’s doing, on the condition one’s body doesn’t benefit from it
The Body, in General:
- touching that causes one to ejaculate (this includes masturbation)
- applying medicine to an open abdominal or head wound and it reaches the stomach or the brain
What Are The Acts That Do Not Break The Fast?
The Mouth & Throat:
- eating or drinking something forgetfully (see aforementioned definition)
- eating what is between the teeth if it is less than the size of a chickpea
- tasting the leftover traces of medicine in the mouth or throat
- dust or smoke (including smoke from ‘ud or incense) entering one’s throat without one’s doing
- a mosquito, fly, or any other object entering one’s throat without one’s doing
- swallowing the wetness that remains after washing one’s mouth for wudu or ghusl
- swallowing one or two drops of sweat or tears that enter the mouth and mixes with one’s saliva, on the condition that one cannot taste its saltiness
- swallowing one’s own saliva
- swallowing one’s own phlegm after clearing the throat
- swallowing vomit that emerges in the mouth without one’s doing, even if it is a mouthful
- deliberately vomiting less than a mouthful, regardless if one swallows it or not
- using a miswak or toothbrush
- wetting one’s lips with one’s saliva while speaking and swallowing it
- swallowing blood that exits from the gums and does not preponderate over the saliva on the condition one cannot taste it
- pulling back saliva into one’s mouth that flows to the chin like a string on the condition that it stays connected and does not break off
The Private Parts:
- performing sexual intercourse forgetfully
- the state of major ritual impurity (janaba) suddenly befalls one, such as from a wet dream
- ejaculation caused by looking or thinking
- entering a dry finger into the anus
- pouring water or oil into the male urethra
- entering tissue or a piece of cotton into the male urethra, even if it completely disappears inside the body
- entering a dry finger into the vagina
- entering a dry tissue or a dry piece of cotton into the vagina upon the condition that part of it remains outside of the body
- performing istinja with water, providing that the wetness doesn’t reach the distance of a finger’s length
- mucus descending from the nose
- sniffing up mucus that is in the nose and it descends to one’s throat
- inhaling smoke, perfume, or incense without one’s doing
- smelling an odor
- applying kuhl in the eyes, even if one finds its taste in the throat or its color in the saliva or phlegm
- dripping eye drops or contact solution into the eyes
- wearing contact lenses
- water entering the ears from a bath
- scratching the inside of one’s ear with a q-tip, even if dirt exits and one reinserts it into the ear
The Body, in General:
- rubbing oil or cream on the body or hair
- applying deodorant
- performing a bath and finding its coolness penetrating into one’s body
- withdrawing blood, such as in a blood test
- blood cupping
- intending to break one’s fast but not actually doing it
What Are The Acts That Are Disliked While Fasting?
- tasting or chewing something without an excuse, providing that its flavor is not swallowed
- chewing flavorless gum
- kissing with desire in which one fears falling into sexual intercourse or ejaculation, on the condition one did not swallow the other’s saliva
- gathering saliva in the mouth and then swallowing it
- to gargle excessively when making wudu or ghusl for fear of breaking the fast
- to sniff water excessively when cleaning the nose in wudu or ghusl for fear of breaking the fast
- doing things that would weaken one while fasting, like cupping or withdrawing blood
- brushing the teeth with toothpaste or using mouthwash, on the condition one does not swallow it
Can I Be Affectionate With My Spouse While Fasting?
There are different rulings related to this question due to the various ways one can be affectionate.
Physical Contact that Does Not Vitiate the Fast:
- Non-passionate kissing in which one is free from swallowing the saliva of one’s spouse and free from the fear of falling into sexual intercourse or ejaculation
- Non-passionate touching in which one is free from the fear of falling into sexual intercourse or ejaculation, such as hugging or holding hands
- Looking at one’s spouse, even if one ejaculates
Physical Contact that Does Not Vitiate the Fast But Is Prohibitively Disliked and Sinful:
- Kissing with desire in which one fears falling into sexual intercourse or ejaculation
- Touching with desire in which one fears falling into sexual intercourse or ejaculation
- Anything sexual that one fears will lead to sexual intercourse or ejaculation
Physical Contact that Vitiates the Fast And Requires Makeup Only:
- Ejaculation from masturbation*
- Kissing and touching (i.e. no actual penetration took place) that causes ejaculation*
Physical Contact that Vitiates the Fast and Requires Makeup and Expiation**:
- Deliberate passionate kissing that causes one to swallow the saliva of one’s spouse*
- Deliberate sexual intercourse in one of the private parts with ejaculation*
- Deliberate sexual intercourse in one of the private parts without ejaculation*
*The person who involved himself in the above-mentioned situations should refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual activity for the remainder of that day, as well as repenting for the severity of the sin.
**Outside the month of Ramadan, if one breaks a fast deliberately through these acts, then the expiation is not required.
Check out our FREE Fasting For Women course for more details related to the rulings of fasting.
- Imam Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah
- Imam Ala al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-Alaiyya
- Imam Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah
- Imam Tahtawi, Hashiyya al-Tahtawi