The Things That Break One's Fast

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

Imaam Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen

The things that break one's fast are seven:

1. Sexual Intercourse: This is when the penis enters the vagina. So when a fasting person has sexual intercourse, his fast becomes broken. Furthermore, if this sexual intercourse occurs during the day of Ramadan, when fasting is obligatory, he is required to perform the mandatory atonement for the vileness of his act, which is freeing a slave. If he is not able to, then he must fast two consecutive months (after Ramadan). If he cannot do this, he must feed sixty needy people. However, if a person is not obligated to fast, such as a traveler, and he has intercourse with his wife while fasting, he must make up the missed day and doesn't have to perform this atonement.

2. When sexual fluid descends due to fondling, kissing, hugging and so on. But if one kisses his wife and no sexual fluids descend then nothing is binding on him.

3. Eating and Drinking: This is when food or drink is transported into the interior of the body, whether by way of the mouth or the nose depending on what is being drunk or eaten. It is not permissible for a fasting person to inhale the smoke of incense (bukhoor) such that it will enter into his interior, since smoke is a substance. But as for smelling pleasant fragrances and perfumes then there is no harm (sin) in this.

4. Whatever bears the same function as eating or drinking such as nutritive injections, which serve as food and drink supplement. But as for injections that are not alimental or nutritive, they do not cause one to break the fast regardless of whether they are injected through the veins or the muscles.

5. Emitting blood due to Hijaamah (Cupping): According to analogy, all forms of emitting blood intentionally, which affects the body like Hijaamah does, applies to this. As for the emission of a small amount of blood as part of a medical examination, and so on, this does not break the fast since it does not affect the body by weakening it, as is the case with Hijaamah.

6. Vomiting Intentionally: This means releasing out what food and drink is in the stomach.

7. The release of blood from menstruation and postpartum bleeding.

A fasting person does not break his fast with any of the above unless he first meets three conditions:

1. He must be aware of its ruling and the time that it applies to.
2. He must remember (i.e. not accountable for forgetfulness)
3. He must do it intentionally and willingly

So if a person performs Hijaamah and doesn't think that the Hijaamah breaks his fast, then his fast is still valid since he is just unaware of its ruling. Allah says:

''There is no sin on you in those matters in which you err, but rather only those which your hearts deliberately intend.'' [Surah Al-Ahzaab: 5]

And He says:

''Our Lord, do not punish us if we forget or err.'' [Surah Al-Baqarah: 286]

Also, it is reported in the two Saheeh Collections that ‘Adee bin Haatim (radyAllahu ‘anhu) placed a white and a black thread under his pillow and then begin to eat and look at them. So when one of them would become distinct from the other he would refrain from eating, thinking that this is what was meant by Allah's statement:

''And eat and drink until the white thread (light of dawn) becomes distinct to you from the black thread (darkness of night). Then complete your fast until the nightfall.'' [Surah Al-Baqarah: 187]

When the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was informed of this, he said: ''This only refers to the whiteness of the daylight and the blackness of the night.'' And he did not order him to repeat his fast.

And if someone eats thinking that Fajr didn't come yet or that the sun has set, but then the opposite of what he thought becomes clear to him, his fast is still valid since he was unaware of the time. It is recorded in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree that Asmaa bin Abee Bakr (radyAllahu ‘anhaa) said: ''We broke our fast once during the time of the Prophet on a foggy day, then the sun appeared to us (i.e. it had not set yet).'' So if making up that fast was obligatory, the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would have clarified it to us, since Allah perfected the Religion through him. And had the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) clarified it, the Companions would have transmitted it since Allah entrusted them with safeguarding the Religion. So since the Companions did not transmit it, we come to know that it is not obligatory. Also, there are many reasons that call for knowledge of it to be transmitted due to its importance, so it would not be possible for it to be forgotten.

And if one is forgetful while fasting he does not break his fast. This is based on the Prophet's statement: ''Whoever forgets while fasting and eats or drinks, then he must continue and complete his fast, for indeed it was only Allah who fed him and gave him to drink.'' [Agreed Upon]

If someone is forced to eat, or if he rinses his mouth and some water escapes into his stomach or some drops of water go in his eyes and escape into his body interior, or he has a wet dream and some semen comes out, then in all of these cases a person's fast is still valid since all of these occurred without him doing them intentionally or willingly.

A fasting person does not break his fast by using the Siwaak. Rather it is Sunnah for him as well as others to use it at any time – in the beginning or at the end of the day. It is also permissible for a fasting person to do that which will alleviate the severity of heat and thirst from him, such as wiping himself with cold water and so on. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would pour water over his head while fasting due to thirst. And Ibn ‘Umar (radyAllahu ‘anhu) would wet a garment and place it on himself while fasting. This is from the ease that Allah intended for us. And to Allah belongs the praise and gratitude for the blessings and ease He grants.

Source: Lessons on Fasting, Taraaweeh and Zakaat


EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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