In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Things That Break the Fast (Al-Mufaṭṭirāt)

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

THINGS THAT BREAK THE FAST (AL-MUFAṬIRĀT)

Many masājid in the U.K. provide information on their Ramaḍān timetables about things which break and things which do not break the fast. Even though all these masājid follow the Ḥanafī fiqh the information provided on such timetables is often contradicting and sometimes confusing. For instance, the term "application of medicine to the anus" is ambiguous, does it mean apply to the anal orifice or apply into the anal canal and the term "for women to apply medicine to the urinary organs" is confusing, what exactly are the "urinary organs" and what is the underlying reason for it breaking the fast. Some of the timetables state injections break the fast other say they do not, some say eardrops and eyedrops break the fast while others say they do not. Some even state that applying medicine to wounds breaks the fast. Some of these rulings have been simply copied from classical fiqh text without trying to understand the reasoning and assumptions behind the rulings. To illustrate these points see a sample of Ramaḍān timetables below.

Such contradicting and confusing statements can have serious implications. For instance, a person may intentionally eat in the false belief that he had broken his fast when in reality he had not.

The information provided below on page 2 below is for the general public who follow the Ḥanafī fiqh, it is an attempt to try to remove some of these contradictions, confusion and doubts, and to try to achieve some sort of uniformity on this issue by providing well researched information on the subject. Failure to do so risks dividing the Muslim community in a similar manner to other contentious issues we already have such as when Ramaḍān starts and ends (moonsighting), and Fajr start time (sehri/ saḥūr) during Ramaḍān in the Summer months. 

Some jurists gave a very broad definition to the word jawf (cavity) thereby including most of the body but the contemporary Ḥanafī jurists with an interest in this field of knowledge restrict the definition of jawf (cavity) to the throat, stomach and intestines.

Some of the rulings given by the classical jurists in relation to things which break the fast (al-mufaṭṭirāt) and medical interventions were based on the following assumptions:

   i) The ear canal is a passage to the brain/ throat.

   ii) The eye is a passage to the brain.

   iii) The nose is a passage to the brain.

   iv) The brain was considered to be part of the jawf due to semantic meaning of the word or because it was thought to provide nutrition to the body or because it was thought to be connected to the throat.

   v) The female urethra and vagina were considered to be part of the jawf or connected to the jawf, some jurists included the male urethra as well.

These assumptions were made due to lack of detailed information about the human body. We now know for certain that these assumptions are not entirely correct. As one of the most esteemed Ḥanafī jurists Burhān al-Dīn Abu’l-Ḥasan ‘Alī bin Abī Bakr bin ‘Abd al-Jalīl al-Farghānī al-Marghīnānī (died 1197), author of al-Hidāyah fī Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī, rightly pointed out that this has nothing to do with fiqh, rather it is an issue of biology. The rulings of contemporary Ḥanafī jurists taking into current medical knowledge of the human body and are listed at the bottom.

Even though the information is provided below it is important to seek advise from those with appropriate knowledge of this subject whenever possible. For more detailed information and rulings of other Muslim jurists (fuqaha) please see pages 3 to 5 below.

The information below is for use during Ramaḍān fasting regarding things which break the fast and based on the Ḥanafī fiqh. If you have any constructive comments please email them to Dr. A. Hussain, ahussain1999@doctors.org.uk.

THINGS THAT BREAK THE FAST (AL-MUFAṬIRĀT)

The following things break the fast according to contemporary Ḥanafī jurists unless the person has an excuse such as per items 11 to 14. If you break or miss a fast you must make up for it (qaḍā') and you make also be liable for expiation (kaffāra) for breaking the fast, see items 29 to 38.

  1. Anything taken by mouth, nose or back passage (or by any other route such as a gastric tube, gastrostomy, jejunostomy and ileostomy) which reaches the throat, stomach or intestine.
  2. Sexual intercourse involving penetration via front or back passage with or without ejaculation as well as ejaculation caused by physical stimulation.
  3. Nasal drops and nasal spray.
  4. Use of an inhaler and use of nebuliser. Deliberate inhalation of smoke, vapour, steam, aerosol or incense through mouth or nose.
  5. Bronchoscopy via the mouth and transoesophageal echocardiography involving the use of lubricating material.
  6. Insertion of a gastric tube, gastroscopy, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and rectal examination involving the use of lubricating material. Insertion of one’s own wet finger into the rectum, or a suppository or an enema.
  7. Unintentional vomiting if swallowed deliberately.
  8. Intentional vomiting of a mouthful or more.
  9. Accidentally swallowing water during wuḍūʼ or ghusl or bits of miswāk or toothpaste.
  10. Menstruation and post-natal bleeding (forbidden to fast).

If a person has one of the following excuses present then the fast is not broken:

  1. Something done out of forgetfulness does not break the fast e.g. eating, drinking or sexual intercourse.
  2. Unavoidable substances which enter the throat do not break the fast e.g. dust, smoke, incense, fly, bug, one’s own mucus, saliva or snot.
  3. Food taken before Fajr that is stuck between the teeth and is less than size of a chickpea will not invalidate the fast if swallowed.
  4. A very small substance which enters the mouth which is chewed but it’s taste is not found in the throat.

THINGS THAT DO NOT BREAK THE FAST

The following acts do not break the fast according to contemporary Ḥanafī jurists:

  1. Swallowing one’s own saliva or nasal mucus from the mouth or nose.
  2. Use of miswāk (dry or wet) at any time of the day.
  3. Application of oil to body skin or hair.
  4. Application or smell of 'attar or perfume.
  5. Unintentional vomiting (see 7 and 8 above).
  6. Wet dream, ejaculation or orgasm due to visual stimulation or thinking (see 2 above).
  7. If one wakes up in state of janāba (state of major impurity), even if one remains in that state until Maghrib while fasting.
  8. Giving blood for blood test or donating blood.
  9. Eye drops (vast majority of jurists do not consider the eye to be an invalidating orifice based on ḥadīth).
  10. Ear drops (providing the ear drum which acts as a barrier between ear canal and throat is intact).
  11. Injections of any type (such as intramuscular, subcutaneous, intravenous, including intravenous infusions of any type and blood transfusion) because these do not reach the digestive tract (throat, stomach or intestine) via an invalidating orifice.
  12. Medication, examination and instrumentation of the urethra, bladder, vagina and uterus do not invalidate the fast (e.g. cystoscopy, urinary catheterization, cervical smear, hysteroscopy, IUD insertion and female pelvic examination) because there is no passage from the urinary system nor from the female genital tract to the digestive tract (throat, stomach and intestine).
  13. Peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis.
  14. Backbiting.

EXPIATION (KAFFĀRA)

For Ramaān fasts expiation (kaffāra)* is required in addition to making up the broken fast (qaḍā') for the following acts (as per Ḥanafī fiqh) if done willingly and intentionally without being compelled and without an excuse as mentioned by the jurists.

  1. Sexual intercourse involving penetration via front or back passage with or without ejaculation.
  2. Swallowing of a spouse’s (or friend's) saliva.
  3. Intentionally eating or drinking (even if it is a very small amount) something which nourishes, medicates, or pleases the body in some way or is normally consumed.
  4. If a person breaks his fast twice or more times on the same day by the same act that requires qaḍā'.
  5. If a person breaks his fast on more than one day during Ramaḍān by the same act that requires qaḍā'.
  6. Eating intentionally after an act which he mistakenly believes has broken his fast such as backbiting, applying oil to hair, or touching or kissing wife without ejaculating.

A person who is liable for expiation (kaffāra) is exempted from expiation (kaffāra) if he/ she has one of the following excuses, in which case only qaḍā' fast is necessary:

  1. The day on which he/ she broke the fast the intention for fasting was made during that day after Fajr time, unless the person was aware of this fact and then deliberately broke the fast without any reason.
  2. Menstruation started later the same day on which the fast was broken.
  3. Post-natal bleeding took place later the same day on which the fast was broken.
  4. Affliction with illness, later the same day, which allows breaking of the fast.

* The rules regarding expiation (kaffāra) are complicated so you must seek advice from someone with appropriate knowledge of this subject.

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The A3 size poster below which has been produced at the request of some local imāms and will insha'Allāh be soon available for downloading as a PDF file and can then be printed in high resolution for display on your masjid noticeboard during the month of Ramaḍān.

 

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بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

MODES OF ADMINISTRATION OF MEDICATION AND MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS WHICH MAY INVALIDATE A FAST

This page has been set up to provide a quick reference for health care professionals around the world in the context of medical practice and other individuals who may be interested in this subject regarding the effects of different modes of administration of medication and medical interventions on the validity of the fast. If you have any comments or you feel something has been missed out please contact Dr. Abid Hussain via email, Abid.Hussain@mft.nhs.uk

Information for the general public and non-medical things which break the fast can be found here.

The information on this page is based on the principles of the anafī fiqh although variant rulings of other jurists are mentioned, in particular recommendations of the 9th Fiqh-Medical seminar on “An Islamic View of Certain Contemporary Medical issues”, held in Casablanca, Morocco on 14-17th June 1997, which was organised by the Islamic Organisation for Medical Sciences (IOMS), and the rulings of the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and ifta of Saudi Arabia (legal rulings of Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullāh bin Baz and Abū 'Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Sālih Al Uthaymeen رحمهما الله). Not all scholarly opinions have been detailed as this would complicate the issue and many may find it confusing.

The left-hand column gives the legal ruling, according to contemporary Ḥanafī jurists who take in to account current medical knowledge on the subject matter, for various routes of administration of medication and various medical interventions, and the second column, on the right, provides additional information including rulings of other jurists.

A frequently posed question with contradicting answers is if the use of the inhaler invalidates the fast or not. This has been discussed in detail on a separate page, here.

General Principle of invalidating a fast

If an “agent of consequence” reaches a “cavity of consequence” (jawf) and attains independent stay within the cavity of consequence via an “orifice of consequence” and with the absence of an excuse (e.g. forgetfulness) then the fast is invalidated.

All the above 5 criteria must be fulfilled for the fast to be invalidated according to the Ḥanafiyyah. Note also that the orifice of consequence must be connected to the cavity of consequence via a passage, manfadh, directly or via another cavity, whether the passage is natural or artificial makes no difference.

 

Agent of consequence (Invalidating substance)

An agent of consequence, that is to say, a substance which is capable of invalidating a fast must have a discernible body, i.e. it must be normally visible. The Ḥanafī jurists also require the invalidating substance to stay in a cavity of consequence independently without being attached to something which is lying outside the cavity of consequence.
 

Cavities of consequence (Invalidating Cavities) Jawf

In practice, the contemporary Ḥanafī jurists with an interest in this field of knowledge limit the jawf to the throat, stomach and intestine but some jurists just quote the classical jurists’ views.

Orifices of consequences (Invalidating entry point)

This includes all the natural orifices as well as any non-natural orifices which have a direct path to a cavity of consequence or indirect path via another cavity. The natural orifices of consequence are the mouth, nose and anus. The ear canal is a potential natural orifice of consequence.

The lacrimal duct is not considered to be an orifice of consequence in the Ḥanafī fiqh (and many other jurists).

 

Reasons for different rulings

Some of the reasons for different legal opinions include:

  1. The worship of fasting has a rational meaning linked to hunger and thirst versus that the worship of fasting does not have a rational meaning, so food and non-food are treated alike.
  2. Definition of jawf, i.e., cavity of consequence. The definition varies amongst the Muslim jurists.

i) The classical Ḥanafī jurists considered the throat, eyes, ears, nose, anus, urinary tract, vagina, deep wounds to abdomen and head (opening into the brain) to be part of the jawf. There was a difference of opinion amongst the Ḥanafi jurists themselves.

Al-Firghinani differentiated between water and liquid mediation inserted into the ear canal. Al-Marghinani differentiated between dry and wet medicine applied to a deep wound.

In practice, the contemporary Ḥanafī jurists with an interest in this field of knowledge limit the jawf to the throat, stomach and intestine but some jurists/ scholars just quote the classical jurists’ views from the classical texts.

ii) The classical Mālikiyyah, in general, restricted the definition of jawf to natural openings in the body including the throat, ear canal, eyes, nose, anus and vagina. Deep wounds are excluded.

iii) The classical Shāfi’iyyah included the throat, ear canal, eyes, nose, anus, urinary tract, vagina, deep wounds to the head as part of the jawf.

iv) The classical Hanābilah considered the throat, eyes, ears, nose, anus, urinary tract, vagina, deep wounds to abdomen and head to be part of the jawf.

v) Ibn Ḥazm al-Tāhirī restricted the definition of jawf to the throat and stomach. Ears, eyes, nose and urinary tract are excluded on the basis that they have nothing to do with eating nor drinking.

  1. The Shāfi’iyyah do not consider intentional breathing of steam or smoke to invalidate the fast.
  2. Lack of detailed information about the human body. The classical jurists made some of their rulings based on the following:
  1. The ear canal is a passage to the brain/ throat.
  2. The eye is a passage to the brain.
  3. The nose is a passage to the brain.
  4. The brain was considered to be part of the jawf due to semantic meaning of the word or because it was thought to provide nutrition to the body or because it was thought to be connected to the throat.
  5. The female urethra and vagina were considered to be part of the jawf or connected to the jawf, some jurists included the male urethra as well.