• In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

    Q: Is taking a meal before commencing a fast (suhur) necessary in order for a fast to be valid?

    A: No, Suhur is not necessary. However, it is a virtuous act of Sunnah that should not be missed unnecessarily.

    Q: What time does Suhur begin?

    A: One can take Suhur any time after midnight, but it is more advisable to take it in the latter hours of the night, preferably just before the break of true dawn (al-Fajr al-Sadiq).

    Q: Is an intention for fasting necessary and when should one make the intention (niyyah) for the fast of Ramadhan?

    A: The intention for fasting is necessary but very simple: It is to know in your heart that you will fast that day. It is valid to have this intention any time from Maghrib the night before up to the Islamic midday of the actual day of fasting, for current Ramadhan fasts and voluntary fasts. The Islamic midday is half way between the beginning of Fajr and Maghrib times. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya)

    Q: Can a man have sexual intercourse with his wife during the nights of Ramadhan?

    A: Yes, it is permitted to have sexual intercourse with one’s spouse during the nights of Ramadhan. However, one must stop before the break of dawn (al-Fajr al-Sadiq). It will also be permitted to take the obligatory ritual bath of purification after one has started one’s fast.

    Q: Is it permissible to kiss and caress one’s wife whilst fasting?

    A: Non-sexual affectionate kissing, from which there is no fear of leading to intercourse or ejaculation, will be allowed and not disliked. However, if one fears that kissing will lead to ejaculation or sexual intercourse, then it will be disliked (makruh) to kiss, but one’s fast will remain valid as long as kissing does not lead to actual sexual intercourse or does not result in ejaculation. If kissing resulted in ejaculation, one’s fast would become invalid and hence will have to be made up (qadha), without having to expiate for it (kaffara). Passionate kissing when saliva is exchanged will invalidate one’s fast, with both Qadha and Kaffara necessary. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/200 & 1/204)

    Q: Does a fast break when one swallows the saliva of one’s spouse?

    A: Yes, if one is certain of swallowing one’s spouse’s saliva, then this would invalidate one’s fast and necessitate both a Qadha and Kaffara.

    Q: If one kisses or caresses one’s spouse and consequently ejaculates, is one’s fast broken?

    A: Yes, the fast is invalidated. However one will only have to make up for the fast (Qadha), and there will be no expiation (Kaffara) in this situation.

    Q: What is the difference between a Qadha and Kaffara?

    A: Qadha (makeup) means to keep another fast in order to make up for the fast which was invalidated, whilst Kaffara (expiation) means to perform an act to expatiate the sin of having broken a fast.

    Q: In what way is a Kaffara fulfilled?

    A: A Kaffara may be given in the following two ways: 1) Fasting for two months consecutively without missing a single fast, 2) Feeding sixty poor people. It should be remembered that if one has the ability to fast then one cannot adopt the second method; rather, one will have to fast for sixty days continuously.

    Q: Does an injection invalidate one’s fast?

    A: No, it does not invalidate one’s fast, although it is better to avoid taking injections whilst fasting unnecessarily.

    Q: Does taking out blood or a blood test invalidate one’s fast?

    A: No, a blood test does not invalidate the fast, as it is merely the taking out of blood. However, it will be disliked if it could weaken one from being able to maintain the fast.

    Q: Does smoking invalidate one’s fast?

    A: Yes, it does invalidate one’s fast. (Ramadhan is a good time to quit smoking forever!).

    Q: Is it allowed to use an Asthma Pump during the Fast?

    A: If one has a genuine medical need for an asthma pump that cannot be otherwise fulfilled, then it would be permitted to use it. However, it would break the fast and require that the fast be made up later (Qadha). This is because anything that has a perceptible body breaks the fast if it enters the body through a normal channel.

    Q: When does vomiting break one’s fast?

    A: Vomiting only breaks one’s fast if: a) one returns and swallows the vomit down the throat, or b) one vomits a mouthful intentionally. It is not broken by non-deliberate vomiting or (deliberately) vomiting less than a mouthful. If one’s fast is broken by vomiting, then one will only have to make up (qadha) for the fast, a Kaffara will not be necessary.

    Q: How does one decide when vomiting is a mouthful?

    A: The definition of “mouthful vomiting” is that which one cannot hold back in one’s mouth without difficulty.

    Q: Can one fast whilst travelling?

    A: Yes, one may fast while travelling. However one should not burden oneself if the journey is long and difficult, for in such situations it is advisable not to fast.

    Q: Can a woman on menstruation (haydh) or post-natal bleeding (nifas) fast?

    A: No, she cannot fast. It will be unlawful (haram) for her to do so.

    Q: Does a woman on menstruation (Haydh) or post-natal bleeding (Nifas) have to make up for the fasts missed?

    A: Yes, she will have to make Qadha for the missed fasts.

    Q: Does one have to perform the Qadha fasts immediately after Ramadhan?

    A: No, it is not necessary. However, it is recommended to complete the missed fasts of Ramadhan as soon as possible.

    Q: When can a sick person break his/her fast on the opinion of a doctor?

    A: When a competent Muslim doctor says that if he/she continues fasting, it will bring danger to his/her life or severely effect the health, then in such a situation it will be permitted to break one’s fast. One will not be liable for a Kaffara but will only have to make up for the fast (Qadha).

    And Allah knows best

  • At What Age Must One Start Fasting?

    Question: At what age must a boy begin fasting in Ramadan?

    Answer: Prayer and fasting becomes obligatory on a child once he/she reaches puberty. However, the wisdom of Islam offers us guidance on how to help our children before puberty to gradually become consistent in their worship and develop a love it.
    Read more

  • By clear texts of the Qur’an and Sunna, and consensus of the scholars, it would be obligatory to make up those missed fasts–gradually, without undergoing hardship.


    In the Hanafi school, a nursing woman unable to fast is obligated to make up the missed days, but does not have to give any type of expiation (fidya). [Ibn Abidin/Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar].


    In general, no expiation is needed for delaying making up one’s unperformed fasts until the next Ramadan comes in.


    This is because it is not obligatory to make up one’s fasts immediately. [Halabi, Multaqa al-Abhur; Marghinani, al-Hidaya]. It is, however, recommended to make up one’s fasts as soon as possible, in order to clear one’s debt to Allah. [Shaykh Zada, Majma` al-Anhur Sharh Multaqa al-Abhur, 1.250; Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir, 2.354-355]


    The reason it is not obligatory to make up one’s fasts immediately is because Allah’s command, namely His saying, “…and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (then fast the same) number of other days” [Qur’an, 2.185], is unconditioned, and the purport of unconditioned texts is decisive until another decisive text conditions it. [Mahbubi, al-Tawdih; Marghinani/Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir Sharh al-Hidaya, 2.354-355]


    Thus, all we have been commanded to do is to fast any same “number of other days” to clear our debt.


    However, one should be careful because if one dies without having taking reasonable means to make up the fasts–such that one’s delay was unexcusable–then one would be considered sinful. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar] One should keep track of unmade-up fasts and make arrangements for expiation payments to be given from the discretionary third of one’s wealth upon death, in case one dies unexpectedly, as death is wont to happen.

  • To intend leaving the fast [siyam] or intending to break the fast wilfully and consciously, will not invalidate [mubtil] the fast. The fast is only invalidated when the person fasting [sa’im] does one of the ten acts that breaks the fast [muftirat; such as performing sexual intercourse or in your case, eating that irresistible food]. This is different from the case of prayer [Salat], for the person who is in prayer [musalli] could vitiate the prayer by merely intending to leave his or her prayer (although it is Haram to do so if there is no valid excuse [‘udhr]). This is because the act of praying is more exact and limited in its scope and form, than any other acts of ‘ibada and worship. To merely intend leaving the act of fasting or I’tikaf [spiritual retreat] or Hajj or ‘Umra, without it being followed by some other extrinsic factor that invalidates that particular act, does not invalidate it.

    This is made clear by Imam al-Bajuri (may Allah be pleased with him!) in his Hashiya of the Fath al-Qarib:

    “Qadi Abu Shuja’: [Among the 11 things that invalidate the prayer is] to change one’s intention (Ibn Qasim: such as to intend to leave the prayer). ((al-Bajuri: Ibn Qasim’s [exact] words, “the prayer” [indicates that this] is contrary to the case when someone intends to leave either the fast or the I’tikaf or the Hajj or the ‘Umra, for neither of them can be invalidated [by changing one’s intention]. This is because the prayer is a more restricted type [of ‘ibada] than any of them.))” [al-Bajuri, Hashiya, 1:179].

    +Fa’ida for students of fiqh+ The legal distinction between the prayer and other types of ‘ibada is that the latter acts could not be invalidated by changing one’s intention [taghyir al-niyya] (for example, of performing the fast to something else), because, unlike the prayer, to not change one’s intention of the ‘ibada is not stipulated as one of the conditions [shart] of the ‘ibada itself.

    My dear brother, we humans are indeed weak creatures! Although fasting has been prescribed for us and for those before us so that we may discipline our egos and fight the devil, we are certainly not infallible like the prophets. For this very reason, we must take all the precautions available to us, whether necessary or suggestive ones, in order that we may achieve Ihsan and excellence in whatever ‘ibada we are performing. Alhamdulillah, in this particular case, your changing the intention did not lead to breaking the fast itself, but this was certainly a “near miss” incident, and again we thank divine protection for this mercy. Although you have managed to keep to the minimum fiqhi limits and although your fast was not invalidated by looking ‘lustfully’ or with shahwa [the “pleasure of the senses” or our “carnal appetites” (which incidentally is not limited only to the pleasures of our sexual organs but also to our digestive ones as you yourself garishly described it: “as a result of looking at the succulent and luscious (yum-yum) food on offer”)], it nevertheless goes against the spirit and wisdom of the fast. The adab of this ‘ibada requires that we do not slobber over food and drool over the objects, sabab and causes of shahwa. The fiqhi ruling for looking at what gives rise to shahwa while fasting is Makruh [offensive], and it is more godfearing [Wara’] to avoid shahwa, even though they are Mubah [permissible] when not fasting. (That is why we learn from the science of Tasawwuf, the fast in fact makes things which are normally Halal, Haram–so how do we measure indulgence in Haram things during a fast?) Indeed, for our case, avoiding looking at the world with shahwa becomes a preventative measure for us, and by not breaking this rule (even when it is not Haram and by breaking it we are not sinning) it becomes a means for us to prevent the lower-half of our nafs getting the better of us.

    For this reason, we should listen to the advice of our Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him!), as narrated by Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him!):

    “khamsu khiSAlin yufaTTirna S-SA’ima wa-yunqiDna l-wuDU’a al-kadhibu wa l-ghIbatu wa n-namImatu wa n-naZaru bi-shahwatin wa l-yamInu l-kAdhiba” [There are five qualities which may break the fast of someone fasting [meaning, its rewards will be lost or reduced] and nullify [the reward of] wudu’: (1) lying; (2) slander; (3) defamation; (4) looking lustfully; and (5) a lying oath.] (Related by al-Daylami; note, according to some scholars of Hadith, this Hadith has defects).

    As for your question: “Must I now make qada of this fast day?”

    Although the answer here would obviously be no, you should have made it clear, the type of fast you were fasting (since in the event that the fast was broken (which it did not), the answer will depend on the type of fast one was fasting: if it is an obligatory one (such as the fast for Ramadan or a makeup [Qada’] or a vowed [Nadhr] or an expiation [Kaffara] fast), then one will have sinned (for it is Haram to interrupt the obligatory fast without a valid excuse) and one will have to makeup the fast (and in the case of an expiation fast, one will have to start fasting from day one again), while if it is a voluntary fast [tatawwu’] or fasts other than the obligatory ones, then if you were to go ahead and carried out what you intended (although it never happened), it is Makruh and offensive to do so because there was no excuse there, otherwise, it would be permissible (in a Makruh fast, for example)).

    As for you question: “Have I sinned?”

    On the contrary, and more than that, you will have been rewarded! From the science of Tawhid or theology, we know that when someone intended to disobey Allah but at the moment of executing it out, the person shies away from doing so and remembers Allah at that split second (by realizing that he or she will incur the displeasure of Allah, for instance) and reverts back to the original intention before intending disobedience and hurriedly seeks God’s forgiveness [istighfar] for having resolved to do such a thing and for carrying it out till this point, then, because he or she did not persist in this bad resolve [‘azm]* before reaching the ‘point of no return’ (in this case, the ma’siya itself or that which is Haram, namely the conclusive act that breaks the fast which will be caused by the arrival of a substance [‘ayn; in this case, the irresistible food] through an open passageway [manfadh; in this case, the mouth] to the body cavity [jawf; in this case, the stomach]), then he or she is rewarded and will not incur a sin.

    * Extra notes for students of Tawhid on the difference between ‘Azm and Niyya: It became an ‘azm when the person first made the order with the waiter for that irresistible food (whether the person has or has not paid for the food); before reaching this ‘azm stage, it was only a simple niyya [intention]. There is a catch though: if the person were to die suddenly because of a heart attack, for instance, after ordering the food but before the food could reach his or her table or indeed, the stomach (in other words the death is at the ‘azm stage (and not at the mere niyya stage), thereby reaching the mukallaf’s point of ikhtiyar for this case), then, he or she would have sinned (if the fast is of the obligatory type). End of notes.

    In fact, the feeling of guilt that stopped you from breaking the fast is an example of what the Prophet called, “Sarih al-Iman” or pure and unadulterated faith. Both, Imam al-Fashni, a Shafi’i jurist and Muhaddith, as well as his famous student, Imam Ibn Hajar summarised this well known belief in their commentary to the Arba’in of Imam al-Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with all of them!) in the following few lines:

    “An example of that [i.e., Sarih al-Iman] is someone who planned to commit adultery, for example, and devised [to do it] in his heart, but then turned away from it owing to some sort of Taqwa [for example, having felt guilty or fear of the divine displeasure in the person’s heart]. He will then be rewarded for that because he, then, falls under the words of the Most High in a Hadith Qudsi [as narrated by Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him!)]:

    “uktubUhA la-hu Hasanatan innamA tarakahA min ajlI” [[O’ angels,] record it [i.e., the bad intention] as a reward for him! Indeed, he abandoned it on account of Me.] (Related by Abu ‘Awana, Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Hibban, with variants).

    [al-Fashni, al-Majalis al-Saniya, 83 and Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Mubin, 215].

    Subhanallah, Allah is indeed merciful and behold how easy it is for us to do good in this world!

    There is a final twist to this whole saga. My hope is that you did not, at the zenith of your case by abandoning the ma’siya at its point of maturity, yielded to the sunna of Shaytan by abandoning also your irresistible food and thereby laying it to waste. To secure the reward, you will have to save the food (by taking it home or giving it away in charity to the poor). If not, it would regrettably be the nadir of your saga. And so within five minutes of your triumph against the devil you were in ignominious retreat by the same sabab, with the henchmen of Iblis laughing all the way over the altered musabbab.

    O’ Lord, we seek to be close to You so we may always be divinely guided, under Your protection from sins and errors! Ya Rabb, free us from the brethren of the devil!

    Allahumma rabbana taqabbal minna salatana wa-siyamana wa-qiyamana wa-takhashshu’ana wa-tadarra’ana wa-ta’abbudana wa-tammim taqsirana Ya Allah Ya Arham al-Rahimin

    [O’ Allah, our Lord! Accept from us our prayer, our fast, our vigil, our awe and humility towards You, our pleading humbly to You, our worship of You, and perfect our imperfections, O’ Allah, the Most Merciful of those who are merciful! Amin!]

    The one seeking divine protection,

    Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti ©
    On the evening of Friday Mubaraka, 24 Shawwal 1424 or Thursday, 18 XII 2003.


    al-Bajuri. Hashiya ‘ala Fath al-Qarib. 2 vols. Bulaq, 1288 H.

    al-Fashni. al-Majalis al-Saniya fi Kalam ‘ala al-Arba’in al-Nawawiya. Bulaq, 1318 H.

    Ibn Hajar al-Haytami. Fath al-Mubin li-Sharh al-Arba’in. Bulaq, 1351 H.

  • Question : (1) What should I do if I was making washing my mouth and nose during ghusl during Ramadan and water went into me? If I have to make an obligatory ghusl, how far should the water go down my throat during Ramadan? What about water going down the ear during showering?

    Answer: (1) You would only have to make up the fast if you are CERTAIN that water entered your body cavity. If you think it MIGHT have, then this doubt is not sufficient to lift the initial presumption of validity.

    It is obligatory to wash the mouth, not the throat. In Ramadan, one does not exaggerate, lest water go down the throat.

    (2) There are three ways something can enter your body cavity while fasting:

    a. Deliberately: This breaks the fast.

    b. Forgetfully: This does not, because of the Prophetic (Allah bless him & give him peace) guidance that it does not. (Otherwise, legal reasoning (qiyas) alone would have indicated that it does.)

    c. Mistakenly/Accidentally: This breaks the fast. An example: what you mentioned; or if one ate thinking that fajr time had not come in or maghrib time come in, when the contrary was true.

    (3) No. Not unless you become certain that it has gone down your throat.

    (4) No.

    (5) Yes. Water that gets into the ears does not invalidate one’s fast in the Hanafi madhhab. [Maraqi, Durr] However, there is difference of opinion on this, so one should take reasonable precautions while showering, and the like.

  • The Fiqh Of Fasting In the Hanafi Madhhab

    Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Companion Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) say: ‘The religion of Islam is based upon five (pillars): testifying that there is no deity except God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God; establishing the prayer; giving zakat; making pilgrimage; and fasting (the month) of Ramadan.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]
    Read more

  • Bleeding in the mouth will only invalidate the fast if one swallows saliva when the majority of the saliva is reddish.

    One is not required to check the saliva to see whether it is red or not, and there is no reason to assume blood has been swallowed unless one is certain that it happened.

    [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Zayla`i, Hadiyat al-Sa’luk]

  • Many people get confused between these three categories. But they are quite simple once one gives it a little thought.

    There are three ways that one can break the fast:

    a. deliberately

    b. accidently or mistakenly, and

    c. forgetfully.

    Deliberately Breaking the Fast

    Breaking one’s fasting deliberately requires a makeup fast and necessitates expiation.

    Deliberately means that one remembers that one is fasting and purposely performs a specific action that breaks the fast without an excuse. [ibn Abdin, Radd al-Muhtar]

    The specific actions that break the fast in this category are:

    1. Purposely eating or drinking something that humans would normally consume and this consummation nourishes, medicates, or pleases the body in some way
    2. Purposely performing actual sexual intercourse, in the front or rear private part, regardless if one ejaculated or not
    3. Swallowing the saliva of one’s spouse

    Accidentally Breaking the Fast

    Breaking one’s fast accidently requires a makeup fast but does not necessitate expiation. This also applies to actions that one was coerced to do.

    Accidentally means that one remembers that one is fasting but broke the fast by one’s own doing without the intention to purposely break the fast. [Tahtawi, Hashiya al-Tahtawi; Related in Radd al-Muhtar]  As such, one did not intend to break the fast; however, a situation occurred where something entered the body cavity through a normal passageway due to one’s own action whilst one was consciously aware that one was fasting.

    Example: Anas is making ablution for Asr prayer. He knows that he’s fasting for Ramadan today. While washing his mouth, he accidentally swallows water. He did not purposely intend to swallow water, but it mistakenly happened. Thus, his fast is vitiated because something entered the body cavity through a normal passageway while he consciously knew he was fasting. He doesn’t fall into category A because he didn’t purposely intend to do an action that would break the fast. He owes a makeup without expiation.

    Forgetfully Breaking the Fast

    If any of the actions that break the fast are performed forgetfully, then one’s fast is not vitiated. Forgetfully means that one does not have the presence of mind that one is fasting when performing the action. [Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah]

    The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks, then he still completes his fast. It is only Allah who fed him and gave him drink.” [Bukhari]

    In another narration, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “If a fasting person eats forgetfully, it is only provision Allah put forth to him and there is no makeup upon him.” [Bukhari]

    Example: Sarah is fasting for Ramadan. Suddenly, she feels thirsty. She goes into the kitchen and drinks a glass of water, completely forgetting that she’s fasting. After she finishes, she suddenly realizes that it is Ramadan and she drank something forgetfully. She was not conscious of the fact that she was fasting when she drank. Her fast is not broken according to the hadiths mentioned above. Rather, she should continue to fast for the remainder of the day. Her fast is valid and she no makeup is upon her.

    I hope this is clear.

    Barak Allah fikum.

  • If one did not swallow the medicine, the fast is not broken. The leftover taste of medicine in one’s mouth or throat does not break the fast. [Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah]

    It is permissible to use the siwak or a toothbrush while fasting. It’s disliked to use toothpaste with the toothbrush because of the likelihood that one may swallow the toothpaste and break the fast. However, if one does not swallow it, then it doesn’t break the fast because a substance did not enter the body cavity.

    Barak Allah fikum

  • I pray this message finds you in the best of heath and faith, insha’Allah.

    No, swallowing the remaining taste of the siwak will not break your fast. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

    However, it would be best to spit out once after using it.

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