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. 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 fasle 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. Such divisions which have become entrenched have a very negative effect on the community as a whole, creating doubt and resentment in the minds of many.

Some jurist gave a very broad definition to the word jawf (cavity) thereby including most of the body but the Ḥanafiyyah restrict the defintion of jawf (cavity) to the stomach/ abdomen, this is different from the other 3 Sunni fiqh. Some of the rulings given by the classcial jurists in relation to things which break the fast (al-mufaṭṭirāt) and medical interventions were based on the following assumptions:

i) The brain is a passage to the throat and hence the stomach (jawf)

ii) The female urethra and vagina are passages to the stomach, some included the male urethra as well

iii) The ear canal is a passage to the throat/ brain and hence a passage to the stomach

These assumptions were made due to lack of detailed information about the human body. We now know for certain that these assumptions are not 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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