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Things that Break Your Fast
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Apart from hayd (menstruation) and nifaas (post-natal bleeding), other things that can break the fast are only considered to do so if the following three conditions apply:
- If a person knows that it breaks the fast and is not ignorant
- If he is aware of what he is doing and has not forgotten that he is fasting
- If he does it of his own free will and is not forced to do it.
Among the things that break the fast are actions that involves the expulsion of bodily fluids, such as intercourse, vomiting, menstruation and cupping, and actions that involve ingesting matter, such as eating and drinking. (Majmoo' al-Fataawa, 25/148)
Things Classified as Eating and Drinking
Among the things that break the fast are things that are classified as being like eating or drinking, such as taking medicines and pills by mouth, or injections of nourishing substances, or blood transfusions.
Injections that are not given to replace food and drink but are used to administer medications such as penicillin and insulin, or tonics, or vaccinations, do not break the fast, regardless of whether they are intra-muscular or intravenous. (Fataawa Ibn Ibraaheem, 4/189). But to be on the safe side, all these injections should be given during the night.
Kidney dialysis, whereby the blood is taken out, cleaned, and put back with some chemicals or nourishing substances such as sugars and salts added, is considered to break the fast. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah, 10/190)
According to the most correct view, suppositories, eye-drops, ear-drops, having a tooth extracted and treating wounds do not break the fast. (Majmoo' Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam, 25/233, 25/245)
Puffers used for asthma do not break the fast, because this is just compressed gas that goes to the lungs – it is not food, and it is needed at all times, in Ramadaan and at other times.
Having a blood sample taken does not break the fast and is permissible because it is something that is needed. (Fataawa al-Da'wah: Ibn Baaz, no. 979)
Medicines used by gargling do not break the fast so long as they are not swallowed. If a person has a tooth filled and feels the taste of it in his throat, this does not break his fast. (From the fataawa of Shaykh 'Abd al-'Azeez ibn Baaz, issued verbally)
The following things do not break the fast:
- Having the ears syringed; nose drops and nasal sprays – so long as one avoids swallowing anything that reaches the throat.
- Tablets that are placed under the tongue to treat angina and other conditions - so long as one avoids swallowing anything that reaches the throat.
- Anything inserted into the vagina, such as pessaries, douches, scopes or fingers for the purpose of a medical examination.
- Insertion of a scope or intra-uterine device (IUD or "coil") and the like into the uterus.
- Insertion into the urethra – for males or females – of a catheter, opaque dye for diagnostic imaging, medication or solutions for cleansing the bladder.
- Dental fillings, tooth extractions, cleaning of the teeth, use of siwaak or toothbrush - so long as one avoids swallowing anything that reaches the throat.
- Rinsing, gargling or applying topical mouth sprays - so long as one avoids swallowing anything that reaches the throat.
- Subcutaneous, intramuscular or intravenous injections – except for those used to provide nourishment.
- Anaesthetic gases – so long as the patient is not given nourishing solutions.
- Medications absorbed through the skin, such as creams and patches used to administer medicine and chemicals.
- Insertion of a catheter into veins for diagnostic imaging or treatment of blood vessels in the heart or other organs.
- Use of a laparoscope (instrument inserted through a small incision in the abdomen) to examine the abdominal cavity or to perform operations.
- Taking biopsies or samples from the liver or other organs – so long as this is not accompanied by the administration of solutions.
- Gastroscopy – so long as this is not accompanied by the administration of solutions or other substances.
- Introduction of any instrument or medication to the brain or spinal column.
What to do When Your Fast is Broken Early
Anyone who eats and drinks deliberately during the day in Ramadaan with no valid excuse has committed a grave major sin (kabeerah), and has to repent and make up for that fast later on. If he broke the fast with something haraam, such as drinking alcohol, this makes his sin even worse. Whatever the case, he has to repent sincerely and do more naafil deeds, fasting and other acts of worship, so as to avoid having any shortfall in his record of obligatory deeds, and so that Allaah might accept his repentance.
If you forgot
"If he forgets, and eats and drinks, then let him complete his fast, for Allaah has fed him and given him to drink." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, no. 1933). According to another report, "He does not have to make the fast up later or offer expiation (kafaarah)."
If a person sees someone else who is eating because he has forgotten that he is fasting, he should remind him, because of the general meaning of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): "… Help one another in righteousness and piety..." [al-Maa'idah 5:2], and the hadeeth, "if I forget, remind me"; and because of the principle that this is an evil action (munkar) that must be changed. (Majlis Shahr Ramadaan, Ibn 'Uthaymeen, p.70)
In order to save a life
Those who need to break their fast in order to save someone whose life is in danger, may break their fast and should make it up later on. This applies in cases where someone is drowning, or when fires need to be put out.
By having intercourse or sexual emissions
If a person is obliged to fast, but he deliberately has intercourse during the day in Ramadaan, of his own free will, where the two "circumcised parts" (genitals) come together and the tip of the penis penetrates either the front or back passage, his fast is broken, whether or not he ejaculates, and he has to repent. He should still fast for the rest of the day, but he has to make up the fast later on, and offer expiation (kafaarah), because of the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him): "Whilst we were sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man came to him and said: 'O Messenger of Allaah, I am doomed!' He said, 'What is the matter with you?' He said, 'I had intercourse with my wife whilst I was fasting.' The Messenger of Allaah said, 'Do you have a slave whom you could set free?' He said, 'No.' He said, 'Can you fast for two consecutive months?' He said, 'No.' He said, 'Do you have the wherewithal to feed sixty poor people?' He said, 'No'..." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 4, no. 1936). The same ruling also applies in cases of zinaa (adultery or fornication), homosexuality and bestiality.
[Translator's Note: Having Intercourse from the back passage, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality are major sins in Islam and are magnified if done during the day of Ramadhan.]
If a person has intercourse during the day on more than one day during Ramadaan, he must offer expiation for each day, as well as repeating the fast for each day. Not knowing that kafaarah is obligatory is no excuse. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah, 10/321)
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author: Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
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