Every Ramadan many of us have questions relating to fasting. Here are the answers to our everyday questions, answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam.
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).
Q: Is it permissible to insert medicine through a female’s vagina during a fast?
A: Any form of medicine inserted into the internal part of a woman’s vagina will invalidate her fast.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK