Fatawa >Section Three:FASTING  


Section Three:FASTING (SAWM)--chapter one :Fasting the Month of Ramadhan


1. Literally, Sawm (fasting) means abstaining or refraining from doing anything including refraining from speech. Allah, the Exalted said, "..Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent God, so I shall not speak to any man today" (19/26).

Technically, however, it means abstaining from certain things such as food and drink and others during a given time, as will be discussed, Inshallah.

Fasting on certain occasions, on top of which is the month of Ramadhan, is coSection Three:FASTINGING (SAWM)--chapter one :Fasting the Month of Ramadhan on Three:FASTING (SAWM)--chapter one :Fasting the Month of Ramadhan red among the most important obligations, as stipulated by Shari’a. It is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Such an obligation is one of the Religion’s fundamental truths. Whomsoever rebels against it would be deemed kafir (irreligious or unbeliever(. However, whoever recognizes it to be an obligatory devotion, yet shows disobedience by not fasting without an admissible excuse would be blameworthy in this life and in the Hereafter, unless they repented.

In brief, fasting the month of Ramadhan requires the mukallaf to be in a state of taharah from janabah, to abstain from food and drink, and to be mindful of other things called "invalidators of fast" which we will be discussing later. The fast period is from dawn till sunset, i.e. from the start of subh prayer to the start of maghrib.

In making niyyah for fasting, the mukallaf should be seeking closeness (qurbah) to Allah. Fasting the days of Ramadhan, as we have described, starts from the first day till the last one, at the end of which the moon of Shawwal will have been born. The first day of Shawwal marks the festive season, i.e. Eidul Fitr.

Being a lunar month, Ramadhan may consist of thirty or twenty nine days. It is widely the view in scholastic and juridical circles that it cannot be less than twenty nine days.

Just as prayer may be performed ada’ or qadha’, fasting follows the same rules. Should the worshipper miss the opportunity of fasting the month of Ramadhan, they can do so after it has ended. Fasting may become obligatory on the worshipper not in the context of the month of Ramadhan, rather as a kaffarah, hence the name "kaffarah fasting", or fasting in fulfilment of a vow ( or oath ) and so on.

Above all, it is a mustahab kind of worship in all days, although certain days and months of the calendar are stressed more to fast than others. Therefore, voluntary fasting during Rajab and Sha’ban is more superior to fasting in the other months.

Sometimes it is unlawful to fast on certain days, such as the first day of Eidul Fitr. We shall be discussing, in some detail, the rules regulating all types of fasting.

1. When is it obligatory to

fast the month of Ramadhan?

It is obligatory on every soul, capable of meeting the requirements, stated below to observe fasting during the month of Ramadhan:

2 a. Adulthood; this is one of the general conditions for making the mukallaf duty-bound to observe fast; thus it is not obligatory on the person who has not attained adulthood to fast; but if they did they will be rewarded; if such a person attain adulthood not before dawn but after it, they are not required to abstain from food and drink that day, nor are they required to compensate for it by way of qadha’. Should the person who we have just described voluntarily fast that day, i.e. when they attained adulthood, they can continue their fast, in which case it will be accepted; they are therefore not required to compensate for it by way of qadha’. Moreover, they are free not to fast that day.

3. b. Reason; this is also one of the general requirements for making the mukallaf duty-bound to observe fast; thus it is not obligatory on an insane person to observe fast. In order for the obligation to continue the sanity of the mukallafs must endure till the end of the day. Even if they lose their sanity temporarily that day, they should be absolved of the responsibility of fasting it. Should the illness of such a persons persist until after dawn, only to recover during the day, the sick persons should not abstain from food and drink, nor are they required to compensate for it by way of qadha.

4. c. The mukallafs should not sustain loss of consciousness before they make niyyah for fasting. If unconsciousness befell them ahead of a new day without letup until after dawn broke, it is not obligatory on them to fast that day, even if they regain consciousness at any stage of it.

Should such persons make niyyah to fast the next day, only to fall victim to unconsciousness and come around after a while during the day, they are required to maintain their fast; fasting that day shall count as part of obligatory fasting.

The same applies to the person who started their day fasting, then became unconscious for an hour or so.

5. d. Women have to be in a state of taharah from the blood of haydh or nifas throughout the day. Even if bleeding ceases at the first second after dawn, they are not required to fast that day. Should bleeding start a second before sunset of the day, fasting on that day is not obligatory. Therefore, what makes fasting obligatory depends to a large extent on the woman being free from the bleeding of haydh or nifas throughout the day of fast. Should the woman fast the day while still not in a state of taharah, albeit for part of the day, such a fast is not called for at the outset; this, though, will not absolve her from the responsibility of compensatory fast .

6. e. Safeguarding against harming oneself; should the mukallaf not be immune of harm which may be triggered by fasting, they are not required to fast. All people, who fear that fasting may cause them to be sick, or worsen or complicate a current illness they are suffering from, or they may be reeling from a sickness that had its toll on them so much so that they become frail, are allowed not to fast. Thus, fasting is not obligatory on them.

However, not every adverse effect on health or sickness that may be precipitated by fast would necessarily allow non-fasting or absolve the mukallaf from the responsibility of fasting. Therefore, common ailments, such as headache, slight fever, mild tonsillitis, mild eye or ear infections should not warrant breaking one’s fast. But, if such ailments take a turn to the worse which normally cause sensible people to take precautions against, the obligation to fast is waived.

Nevertheless, the degree of a particular health problem is a relative matter, i.e. it varies from one individual to the other; for example a slight rise in the temperature of a person who is already weakened by illness may prove problematic.

7. Should a person who is not feeling well be aware that fasting will not do him any harm, neither would it delay his recovery, he is required to fast.

8. Fear of harming oneself because of fasting may vary. You may be either sure that harm will come your way, or you may think so, or there may be a chance that fasting will affect your health, or there may be a less than 50% chance of damage to one’s health; yet it is sufficient to cause alarm, such as fearing for one’s eye sight, albeit there may be only 30% chance of harm; or in a fifth case, there may be very slight chance which does not pose any cause for alarm.

In the first four examples, there is a case for not fasting. In the fifth, not fasting is not permissible; it becomes obligatory.

9. Should the worshippers, in the cases where non-fasting is permissible, go ahead and fast causing harm to themselves, what would become of their fast? In other words, would it be accepted and, therefore, absolve them from compensatory fast, or would it be deemed batil and, therefore, require them to fast in lieu?

A. Such a fasting will not be accepted; the worshipper cannot be absolved of the responsibility of fasting qadha’.

10. Should the worshippers fast in the belief that they are not going to put their health in harm’s way, only to find out that the damage has been done. Would fasting in this case be accepted from them and thus absolve them from the responsibility of compensating for it?

A. Yes, the fast is valid; they are, therefore, not required to fast in lieu.

11. If the worshippers fast although they had thought that going ahead with fast would adversely affect their health, only to find out that it did not, would their fast be accepted and, therefore, absolve them of the responsibility of fasting qadha?

A. This fast should be accepted and no qadha’ is required from the worshipper, provided that:

a. the sort of harm should not be of the category which the mukallafs are debarred from embarking on to start with, and are liable for punishment if they flouted the law.

b. The type of fast they observed is one that they embarked on with niyyah of qurbah, such as they may be ignorant of the law that makes it unlawful for the sick to fast; conversely, they cannot put this aside and make niyyah of qurbah, although they are certain of their ill health.

12. The worshippers may wake up after dawn has broken while they are nursing a sickness of the sort that allows them not to fast. They did not do anything that might have invalidated fast, only to get better during the day. Such, worshippers are not required to make neither a fresh niyyah, nor abstain [from food and drink]; furthermore their fast is null and void and are therefore required to compensate for it by way of qadha’.

13. Despite their certainty that they are well and fit to fast, worshippers were advised by competent physicians that fasting would cause them harm. They are required to comply with the doctor’s advice, although they are sure that there is no cause for alarm. However, if they discover for certainty that the doctor was in the wrong, they should ignore his advice and go ahead with fast.

14. The worshippers may be in a better position than that of the doctor to judge that their ill heath could further be undermined, if they were to fast, yet the doctor’s advice to them was assuring, in that fasting will not cause them any harm. What should they do - act according to their own urge, or follow the doctor’s advice?

A. They should act according to what they think best for themselves, unless their feeling of fear is largely misguided as is generally the case of those who are apprehensive of the doctor’s advice.

15. f. Fasting should not lead to putting the worshipper in an untenable situation, so much so that it may prove a major problem of life. For example, fasting may prevent them from going about their business or performing their duties which is the source of their income, in that it may prove detrimental to one’s physical health which in turn adversely affects their capacity to work or think straight, or it might cause them severe thirst of the sort they cannot bear, etc.

In such a case, it is obligatory on the worshipper to seek an alternative arrangement with a view to fasting, but without undue difficulty. It could be by either changing one’s job, postponing it [taking leave], or depending in sustaining oneself on one’s savings, etc. Failure to achieve that should absolve them from fasting. However, it is desirable for such worshippers, as a matter of voluntary obligation, not to behave as though they are not fasting. They should make do with the bare minimum which makes them carry out their work without great difficulty or embarrassment; they are, though, required to compensate for any missed periods of fast by way of fasting qadha’ where possible.

16. f. The worshippers should not be on a journey (musafir), or, in a more precise expression, they should not have become liable for praying qasr because of taking to the road, i.e. a traveler, or musafir. That is, a traveller is, [by law], not required to fast. Should he insist on fasting it will be in vain; consequently, he is not absolved from the responsibility of fasting by way of qadha’, except for one case:

That is, if he was ignorant of the law which debars travelers from fasting. Such fast should be in order, unless they became aware of the legal requirement during the day. But, even if by coming to know about the law, he insists on maintaining fast, such fast is batil.

Fasting is, therefore, obligatory on )a( those who stay put in their domicile, )b( the travelers who are not required to pray qasr, such as )b/1( those who intend to observe a ten-day stay in one place, )b/2( those whose work involves travel, )b/3( those who embark on unlawful travel )safaril ma’siyah(, and )b/4( those who spend at least thirty days in travel in a particular place without being able to reach a decision whether to stay[the ten-day period ]or move on.

17. It is permissible for the worshipper, prior to the advent of Ramadhan or after its arrival, to embark on travel, even without the need for it or in a bid not to fast; and although this is permissible, it is bound to spoil the chance of the worshipper to reap a great reward.

18. Should a person travel during the day of their fast, does he have to carry on fasting that day?

A. Should travel take place, from the periphery of the home town of the worshipper, before noon, no fasting is required, yet it should be performed by way of qadha’. This is regardless of whether the decision to travel was taken overnight or after the breaking of dawn. Nor would it matter, if the worshipper traveled quite a distance from his town or are still close to it, so much so that its buildings are still within his eyesight.

Should he travel at the afternoon, his fasting that day is obligatory; he has to make sure, though, that it is over and done.

19. Assume that the dawn broke while the worshipper was still traveling. On arriving at his destination, he decided to stay the ten-day period. What should he do?

A. Had this traveler broken his fast before getting to his hometown [destination], he would have not been required to fast; he has though to compensate for that day by way of qadha’ at some other time. Had he not broken his fast before he got to their destination, he should take one courses of action, depending on the time of day. If his arrival was before noon, it is obligatory on him to make niyyah for fast and carry on thus; this fast would count as obligatory one. Conversely, i.e. arriving sometime in the afternoon, he is not required to fast and has to compensate for the day he missed.

What would happen to a worshipper who starts his day at his hometown, then make a return journey at the same day before noon?

A. It is most desirable, as a matter of obligatory precaution, that he should make niyyah for fasting and do fast, then resort to a measure of voluntary precaution in fasting that day by way of qadha’.

20. There are situations where the mukallafs know that a sort of eventuality will arise that may prevent them from fasting the day, such as haydh, nifas, sickness, travel, etc. Let us suppose that the mukallafs knew before hand that such a thing will happen to them, can they not fast that day ahead of the occurrence?

A. No, it is not permissible. The mukallaf should embark on fast at the outset until the development, which would usually absolve the mukallaf of maintaining fast, actually takes place. So, if a woman knew that her period would start after an hour, she is not permitted to break her fast before bleeding starts. The travelers too are not allowed to break their fast before they have embarked on their journey and traveled some distance where they cannot see anybody from their place of domicile, nor can anybody else see them.

21. h. Both men and women, who have reached old age, say of seventy, that may have caused them to be frail and consequently find it hard to fast. They have the choice of either fasting or not observing fast. In case they choose not to fast, they are required to give fidya, which is three quarters of a kilo of wheat, bread or any other type of food for every day of the month of Ramadhan they decide not to fast. This fidya should be given to the poor. However, such old people are not required to fast qadha’. Should they reach such a stage of frailty that it becomes very difficult for them to fast, or that fast would put them in harm’s way, they are free not to fast and without the need to give fidya, nor fast in lieu.

22. i. Persons afflicted with perpetual urge for drinking water , making it rather difficult for them to fast, are free to fast or not to fast; should they choose not to fast, they have to give the sort of fidya that has already been mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Should fast exasperate their condition, they can be exempt of fast without the need to give fidya.

23. j. An expecting mother, who is very close to the date of giving birth, fearing for the safety of her unborn baby, is permitted not to fast; she can give fidya instead and fast qadha’ for every day she had missed. However, if potential harm, of the type which might adversely affect the mother’s health, was envisaged, she is not required to fast, nor give fidya, since the fifth of the general requirements of fast is missing.

24. Just as the pregnant mother is not required to fast, should doing so put her unborn child in harm’s way, a nursing mother is worthy of receiving the same treatment; she can compensate by way of giving fidya and fasting qadha’. The same rule, of the pregnant mother, applies if fast would lead to endangering the nursing mother’s health. However, this is not the case with women who do not breast-feed their babies, or the baby is bottle-fed; that is, if this was not harmful to their babies well-being.

2. Obligations During Fasting

The person fasting the month of Ramadhan is required to fulfill the following:

a. Niyyah; since fast is an act of worship, there must exist an urge to embark on such a devotion with the exclusive objective of seeking closeness to Allah, the exalted. Adhering to the requirements of fast, be they upholding what is required or abstaining from what is forbidden. As is the case in other devotions, things that are haraam (forbidden)or batil are liable to invalidate fast.

26. You may want to ask: Assuming that niyyah is the catalyst for embarking on any work; and the niyyah of qurbah means that the command of Allah is the motivation for taking to such a devotion. Yet, it is rather difficult to assume it in all the cases of fast. For example, there may be people who, although observant of fast, they sleep most of the day, forget about food or drink, or simply shun it altogether. Thus, it could be said that the rationale behind such a person’s abstaining from food and drink is not Allah’s injunctions. Would this invalidate fast?

A. No, it would not. It is sufficient for niyyah of qurbah to be countenanced that the worshipper is simply taking to this act of worship in compliance with Allah’s command that requires him to abstain from food and drink, when he is either asleep, unaware, or averse to food and drink. That is, so long as the worshipper is sure that he is not going to eat and drink, even if he was not asleep, unaware, or averse to food and drink, this is good enough a niyyah.

27. For niyyah to be valid it suffices that the fasting person embarks on fasting the day from dawn till sunset, provided that he does not have in mind any type of fast - e.g. kaffarah - other than that of the month of Ramadhan. Failure to uphold that would result in annulment of both the fasts.

28. During the month of Ramadhan, the niyyah of the fasting person should not be delayed beyond dawn. There is, however, a number of issues when the worshipper fails to make niyyah until dawn has broken due to being asleep, or because of an oversight, and so on. A- If such worshippers have maintained their abstention from food and drink and found about the problem before zawaal, they should make the niyyah and carry on fasting, in which case it will be accepted from them. B- Should this happen after zawaal, abstaining from food and drink and observing fast should also be the norm, in which case they have, as a matter of obligatory precaution, to compensate for the day by way of qadha’.

Should the worshippers either inadvertently or out of ignorance break the state of maintaining restraint from food and drink, they should act as though they were fasting; they are therefore required to fast in lieu .

Suppose that a worshipper started his day without the intention to fast. This was a deliberate act of rebellion against Allah’s injunctions. Later that day, he went back to his senses and repented; what he is required to do is to masquerade as a fasting person; accordingly, he should compensate for that day by fasting at some other time.

29. You may ask: If it is not permissible to delay making the niyyah until after dawn has broken, is it permissible to bring it [niyyah] forward, say, making it overnight?

A. If it is at all within the capacity of the worshippers and that such a niyyah is sufficient for them, unless they change their mind, they are permitted to do so; fasting with such a niyyah is sound. Moreover, even if at the inception of the month, making one niyyah for fasting the entire month of Romadham would also do, provided they do not change their mind. If this has been the case and the worshippers remained, for a reason or the other, asleep for, say, two days or more, they would still be considered fasting all the period they remained asleep.

30. Niyyah is obligatory for fast right from the beginning; continuity is another prerequisite. Thus, he who intended to break his fast at any day of Ramadhan, or wavered in continuing with fast, such fast would be deemed batil. That is, irrespective of this taking place before or after zawaal. However, he must put a show as though he was fasting, and fast qadha at some other time. That said, should this person reconsider his position by going ahead with his fast, provided he did not take to food and drink, his fast would still be in order; however, espousing ihtiyat, in carrying on with fast and compensating for it later, should not be abandoned.

31. The worshipper may apply some sort of medication, say eye drops, only to grow suspicious that it could detract from his fast. Having equivocated, he sought advice; he came to know that using eye drops would not do any harm to one’s fast. Would the period of equivocation because of doubt render his fast as batil?

A. Such equivocation should not render fast null and void, so long as the worshipper made his niyyah of fast with the belief that the eye drops would not invalidate it.

32. It is not necessary for the niyyah of fast that the worshipper is conversant with all that which may invalidate fast, which he is required to avoid. It suffices, at the time of holding niyyah, that he finds himself capable of avoiding those things that would make him break his fast; that is, coming to know about them gradually, or by avoiding any thing they suspects might detract from his fast.

Being in a State of Taharah at the Time(Dawn) of Embarking on Fast

33. b. Should the worshippers be in a state of janabah, they must perform ghusl before the onset of dawn (fajr). Should they deliberately and knowingly avoid ghusl until dawn has broken, they have, as a matter of ihtiyat, to continue their fast, make up for that day, and pay kaffarah.

34. The same ruling applies to a worshipper who due to an oversight forgot to perform ghusl, also on the basis of ihtiyat. However, in their case, they are not required to pay kaffarah.

35. While still awake at night, should the worshippers do that which requires them to perform ghusl, they cannot, as a matter of ihtiyat, go to bed before having performed ghusl. That is, unless they are used to waking up before dawn, either as a matter of course or by way of an alarm clock, to perform ghusl.

36. If, overnight, the worshipper was involved in a sexual activity, of the sort that usually leads to a state of janabah, and slept without the intention of performing ghusl, until it was dawn, they are treated as though they deliberately avoided ghusl while still awake.

Should this happen to persons who are not bent on taking ghusl lightly, yet they are not of the type known to waking up, their way out is to fast as a precaution measure in the hope that it will be accepted by the Almighty; they should also resort to ihtiyat wujubi )obligatory precaution( by fasting qadha’ and paying kaffarah.

Should this happen to a person, who is used to waking up in time to have ghusl by way of an alarm, yet he could not wake up, his fast remains valid, i.e. nothing extra is required from him.

However, if waking up happens in between, ]i.e. before the start of fast[, the worshipper should not go back to sleep, unless he is absolutely sure that he is not going to be denied the opportunity of having ghusl in time. If by going back to sleep second time round he takes a chance of waking up again to perform ghusl, yet this did not materialize, he has to hold his fast and compensate for the missed day by way of fasting qadha’, as a matter of obligatory precaution; he is not required to pay kaffarah though. The same applies, if the waking up and going back to sleep recurred more than twice.

37. Should the state of janabah come about as a result of having a dream and extend till dawn, the fast in such a case is valid. However, should the worshippers wake up from their sleep and find out about the occurrence, it is desirable for them, as a matter of ihtiyat, not to go back to sleep before they performed ghusl. That is, unless they are confident that they are not going to let the opportunity of performing ghusl slip away.

However, should the worse happen, in that they could not wake up second time round, they are better advised to hold their fast and fast in lieu; they are, though, not required to pay kaffarah.

Should this happen to a worshipper who is not used waking up in time to do what is required of them, his cue is [to do all three], i.e. stick to his fast, compensate for the missed day, and pay kaffarah; that is based on ihtiyat.

38. Married couples are not allowed to engage in sexual union closer to the small hours of the night, i.e. closest to dawn, in which case they could be left with no time to have ghusl. Should this happen, by either deliberately flouting the law or inadvertently, they are required to perform tayamum instead of ghusl. In so doing their fast would be valid; they are however not required to stay awake until the onset of dawn. Should they neglect performing tayamum until it was dawn, they should resort to ihtiyat by holding their fast, fasting in lieu of the missed day, and paying kaffarah.

39. Women experiencing haydh or nifas should hasten to perform ghusl once they know that they became clean again. If they ignore this until after dawn, it is obligatory on them to fast qadha’. This is so, when there is still time to perform ghusl. Otherwise, tayamum could substitute ghusl. However, their fast would still be valid, if they were not aware of the cessation of their haydh or nifas until after dawn.

Although touching a dead body before dawn warrants ghusl, yet the worshipper is allowed to postpone it until after dawn.

40. In all the cases where it becomes obligatory on the worshippers to have ghusl before dawn, they are allowed to perform tayamum instead of ghusl where the latter can endanger their health or there is not ample time to perform ghusl. This would do for holding fast.

41. Should a woman be experiencing a major or medium istihadha, does she have to uphold all ghusls she is required to perform in order that her fast be valid?

A. Apparently, the validity of fast does not depend on such a woman’s performing the ghusls that are required of her in a prayer context. Although it is required for the validity of prayer, it is desirable that ihtiyat should be applied, i.e. by performing the daily ghusls to make fasting good. As for nightly ghusls, they have nothing to do with fast.

Avoiding Things that Invalidate Fast

d. Avoiding things that render fast invalid should be practised by the worshipper observing fast during the fasting period as a matter of course. These have been discussed by jurists; here I will discuss them alongside any remarks I may deem necessary:

42. a. and b. Food and drink, be it in big or small quantities. Whether such food was of the usual stuff or unusual one, such as swallowing stones or dust or drinking oil, is of irrelevance; this is based on ihtiyat wujubi.

This ban covers even the minute pieces that may be lodged between the worshipper’s teeth. Swallowing [Inhaling] dust, be it light or heavy, is not capable of invalidating one’s fast. That said, there is no harm in espousing ihtiyat regarding the heavy type of dust. The same applies to vapour and smoke; on that basis the ruling on smoking, which although considered objectionable )haraam(, is that it is not among the things that invalidate fast.

The following pose no threat to one’s fast:

A- Swallowing anything that has been regurgitated.

B- Swallowing one’s saliva whether deliberately or inadvertently.

C- Wearing antimony or using eye/nasal drops, although the drops might find their way to one’s stomach.

D- Pouring medical solution onto an open cut, having an injection on medical grounds; if the solution is injected with the aim of feeding, it is considered as food and drink, in which case it is not sanctioned, hence the ban on the use of nutritive substances .

E- Consuming any food or drink by other means, such as through one’s nostrils, should have the same adverse result on one’s fast.

F- Feeding an ill person through an incision in their body is also not allowed; in short what is forbidden is supplying food and drink to the body by way of mouth, nose, or through an incision, including intravenous feeding.

43. c. Sexual Intercourse.

44. d. Masturbation, irrespective of the way used to bring it about. Should semen be passed without any activity, there is no harm in that, in which case fast is valid. If, upon embarking on that which could lead to ejaculation, the persons were intent on not letting it happen to them, yet it did eventually happen, they can continue with their fast and are not expected to take further action. If the doers were not so confident that they would not come, yet they did come, they have to fast qadha’ and pay kaffarah.

45. e. Concocting falsehood against Allah, His Messenger, and the Infallible Imams (a.s. )has been considered among the actions that invalidate fast. However, based on ihtiyat this cannot be said to invalidate fast, although it is among the cardinal sins. That said, should the worshipper commission such an act, it is desirable for him to perform fast by way of qadha’.

46. f. Of things that could invalidate fast is submerging one’s whole head in water, be it just the head or as part of the entire body. However, strictly speaking, it should not be considered thus. Still, one should, as a matter of obligatory precaution, avoid doing it.

47. g. The use of anal syringe for injecting fluid, baring solids, should, on the basis of obligatory precaution, detract from the validity of fast. However, using same for both man and woman reproduction organs can be tolerated.

48. h. Vomiting can upset one’s fast and eventually render it batil, as a matter of obligatory precaution, even if it takes place on health grounds; however, if it was pivotal to the patient’s recovery, it can be tolerated, although the fast would still be batil.

If vomiting occurs naturally, it will not adversely affect one’s fast. Even if something is regurgitated without actually reaching the vicinity of the mouth, it too can do no harm to one’s fast. But once this food reaches the mouth, it must be thrown out. If it deliberately gets swallowed, fast should, therefore, be deemed batil, and the worshipper has to compensate for the missed day of fast and pay kaffarah.

49. These are the things that invalidate fast. There is nothing more to them. So, whosoever is in doubt about anything that may invalidate fast, should consult this list carefully; if it is listed, the worshipper should comply with the ruling so passed. Otherwise, fast remains intact.

Nevertheless, we would like to reiterate that the following are not among the things that invalidate fast: cupping, use of injection in the urethra, dallying with one’s wife - without sexual intercourse and ejaculation, smelling perfume, and sitting in a tub filled with water, even if it covers one’s whole body.

Rules Concerning Things that Invalidate Fast

Fast should be deemed batil, if any of the said things takes place, except the following:

50. a. Anything commissioned by the worshippers unintentionally would not detract the fast.

51. b. Should the worshipper do anything which is included in the eight-item list, in the belief that it is not, only to find out later that it is, this would not affect the validity of fast.

52. If the worshipper is involuntarily made to flout the ban, this would not detract the fast.

53. Exceptions to the principle of things happening to the worshippers without their consent are the following:

a. Suppose someone fills his mouth with water without contemplating to drink it. However, while turning the water inside it, some of the water seeped into his stomach by accident. Such are required, as a matter of voluntary precaution, to compensate for the fast of the day. That is, barring this happening as a result of the worshipper’s using the water as mouthwash as part of wudhu for an obligatory prayer, as rinsing the mouth in this context is mustahab, in that it can be tolerated.

b. Having embarked on playing with his woman, the worshipper unintentionally ejaculated. He can still hold his fast, provided that he is, at the outset, confident not to cause any ejaculation.

54. d. The worshippers could suspect whether dawn has already arrived, then checked to find out the truth of the matter. Having reached a conclusion that it had not, they ate and drank. Afterwards, they discovered that it was already dawn time. Their fast should still be valid.

At the other end of the spectrum is another worshipper who, although faced with the same problem, did not bother to check for themselves. Thus, he took to food and drink in the belief that was not time for dawn yet. Although, he is not deemed guilty, he could be penalized by compensating for that day by way of qadha’, should he find out to the contrary.

The same applies to those who break their fast prematurely in the dying moments of daylight, believing that the day has drawn to a close after having noticed what seemed to be darkness, despite clear skies. Their fast is batil; they are, therefore, required to make up the day they squandered and pay kaffarah. If the cause of the darkness was something else other than clouds, the same rule applies as a matter of obligatory precaution. Should there be clouded skies, the fast stands, without the need for further action.

If there was no darkness, and the worshippers suspected that it may be time for breaking the fast, they are not allowed to do so. Should they go ahead and break their fast, they would be deemed sinful, their fast batil, and it becomes obligatory on them to repeat the fast by way of qadha’ and pay kaffarah. That is, unless it transpired to them that it really was time for the end of fast, in which case they should not worry about taking further action.

The same applies to the persons who broke their fast despite the existence of plausible evidence that it was not dark enough for anyone to break his fast. Such people should compensate for that day by way of fasting qadha’ and pay kaffarah.

For those who break their fast after attaining certainty that it is time to break their fast through either personal experience or reliance on sound proof in support of such conclusion, they cannot be deemed sinful, nor can they be made to pay kaffarah. However, if they find out that they were in the wrong, they have to hold their fast. And although they are not required to repeat fasting the day by way of qadha’, espousing ihtiyat in performing qadha’ fast should pose no harm.

General Rules

55. The worshippers, who have to observe fasting during the month of Ramadhan yet for a reason or the other they have to abrogate it, should be allowed to eat and drink that day. However, it is desirable that they should behave as though they were fasting. That is, except in certain cases where we have already ruled that abstinence should be upheld.

Whenever fast is declared void and null, qadha’ becomes obligatory. This is so, irrespective of whether the lapse was brought about as a result of flouting the first condition, i.e. niyyah, or the second, i.e. ghusl, or the third, i.e. not keeping one’s distance from the things which render fast batil.

56. Kaffarah will not become obligatory for merely leaving out niyyah of fast or invalidating it, although making up for any lost days of fast is obligatory. That is, unless the worshipper commission that which would render fast null and void, or deliberately staying asleep while in a state of janabah until dawn breaks. Obligatory kaffarah should be introduced in the light of the following guidelines:

57. a. The worshipper should have, at will, done that which is bound to invalidate their fast.

58. b. The worshippers should not have been coerced to break their fast; in such a case, although their fast would be batil, no kaffarah is due.

59. c. The worshippers should not be aware that what they did was lawful; conversely, no kaffarah should be due. That is, irrespective of whether or not they were aware that fast is not obligatory on them right from the start, or they mistakenly believed the Law-giver did not rule that the thing they commissioned is among the things that breach fast.

60. Kaffarah is obligatory on him who intentionally invalidates his fast by staying in a state of janabah overnight, i.e. by not having ghusl until its already dawn time; this is based on ihtiyat. This covers the case of the worshipper who missed the chance of having ghusl because of oversleeping. That is, irrespective of the fact that he had the intention of waking up to perform ghusl, yet was not used to waking up before dawn.

In the Chapter of Kaffarahs , we will discuss in some detail, the kinds of kaffarahs stipulated for invalidating one’s fast during the month of Ramadhan.

61. Should the worshippers be in a state of uncertainty as to the coming of dawn, they may continue eating and drinking, until they are absolutely sure that dawn has already broken, at which point they should abstain from food and drink. They may as well depend, in determining the arrival of dawn, on the testimony of a trustworthy person.

That said, in trying to ascertain the time of dawn, the worshipper is not required to personally investigate the matter. However, if they carry on eating and drinking, only to discover that dawn has already come, they are required to perform compensatory fast. The exception to this rule is the case of a person reaching the conclusion that the time for dawn did not arrive, after having checked the matter for themselves, i.e. as discussed in (para 45).

62. Should the worshippers be uncertain about whether or not it was time for ending their fast at the end of the fasting day, it is not permissible for them to do so, unless they directly, or indirectly - through the testimony of a knowledgeable person or adhan, made sure that it was. If they unduly hastened to break their fast, they would be liable to perform fast by way of qadha’ as well as pay kaffarah. That is, barring the fact that it transpired to them that they were in the right.

63. The worshippers may experience unwarranted ejaculation, i.e. not of their own making, such as having a dream while asleep during the day of their fast. In such a case, they are not required to hasten to have ghusl; they can go back to sleep, thus postponing having ghusl so long there is still time for prayer.

3. Ascertaining the

Birth of the Moon

The New Moon’s Birth

64. Ramadhan and Sha’ban are lunar months. They may consist of either twenty nine or thirty days according to the cycle of the moon around the earth from west to east.

Like the earth, half of the moon faces the sun and the other half does not. The half that faces the sun reflects its light; the one that does not is dark. When the moon completes its revolution around the sun, the situation of darkness and light on both its sides reverses.

In its revolution around the earth, the moon occupies such a position between the earth and the sun that its dark side faces the earth, turning its bright side away from it, where it completely cannot be seen. A second position is that of the earth coming between the sun and the moon. The third position is the one in between.

When the moon reaches a stage where it is completely hidden to the naked eye, this is called "waning of the moon", or moonlessness . Once the moon starts moving away from this position, the edge (crescent), of its side which is facing the sun begins to emerge, i.e. a new moon is born . This sets forth the cycle of the moon around the earth. This is called "conjunctional movement" , because its start is determined at the point where the moon is lined up with both the earth and the sun, taking a center position. The moment the new moon is seen heralds the moving away of the moon from the pivotal position.

In no way can the lunar calendar month be less than twenty nine days or more than thirty days. As for the shari’i lunar calendar month, it too can consist of thirty or twenty nine days, but not more, and not less.

65. The possibility of sighting the moon, not the sighting itself, is the basis to be reckoned with to determine the start of the month. This is so because sighting may not be forthcoming for either the process of sighting is not practiced, or there may be obstacles capable of hindering sighting, such as clouded skies. Thus, the shari’i month may start.

There is no difference in doing the sighting, i.e. whether it was done with the naked eye or aided by scientific devices, because both lead to the same result, i.e. sighting the moon.

66. Different countries go their different ways in sighting or non-sighting the moon, i.e. it could be sighted in a country but not the other. What is the ruling in this regard?

There are two issues here:

a. The difference in the sighting, or otherwise, of the moon could be attributed to a simple detail, such as the presence of clouds in one of the two countries. In such a case, the sighting of the moon in country(a) can make up for the sighting in country (b) for the same reasons we have just discussed in (para. 56).

b. The two countries may vary to a great measure in relation to their respective positions on either the longitudes or the latitudes, so much so that sighting the moon in one is more feasible than the other, let alone the presence, or lack of it, of any obstacle, such as clouds or fog.

This could be expounded in two cases:

a. Suppose that country (a)falls on a certain longitude in such a way that sunset occurs a very long time ahead of its occurring in country (b) because of the variance in their respective position in relation to the longitudes.

As we have already illustrated, the moment the moon is born, it starts breaking away, only to become more visible; each night it wares off gradually following the shape and rotation of the earth from east to west. Thus, sunset in one country may take place minutes, or even hours, after it has done so in another one commensurate to their respective position on the globe. Sunset in each longitude falling to the east comes before that falling to the west and vice versa.

For example, sunset may take place in a country like Iraq at the same time the moon emerges from its pivotal position between the earth and sun, i.e. a new birth. It is impossible to sight the new moon in such a situation because of its minuscule size. After few hours it can be possible to sight it because the bright stretch of the moon becomes easily visible by virtue of its breaking away from its pivotal point . Thus, when sunset takes place, few hours later, in a country falling to the west of Iraq, the sighting of the moon will have become readily possible.

b. The other assumption is that of two countries occupying positions on the same longitude, i.e. sunset takes place at the same time in both the countries. Yet, they are apart from the equator, as they fall on two different latitudes. As you may know, the length and shortness of the day are also determined by the latitudes. Another factor, which has an impact on this matter, is the period during which the crescent stays visible in the horizon of this country or the other. Assume that its presence in one country was so short that it could not be sighted, and that it dwelled for a rather long spell in the other country to give ample time to the beholder to sight it; this is how the difference in the possibility, or otherwise, of sighting the moon could come about.

What distinguishes one country from the other in relation to the possibility of sighting the moon, could be determined by their respective positions on the longitudes. Those occupying a westerly position to the other country, as well as different latitude, allow a longer spell of dwelling for the crescent to be sighted.

This discussion is bound to lead to posing the following questions:

a. Different countries experience the birth of the new moon at varying times for a number of reasons. Should one deduce that each country should have its own horizon for sighting the moon and therefore the start of their lunar month? This is so because it is born in a westerly horizon earlier than an easterly one, or should the start of the lunar month be one for all countries, having sighted it at any point in the horizon?

b. In other words, is the advent of the shari’i lunar month a relative one, following the different horizons, in the same way sunrise behaves - such as the sun rises in the sky of Detroit but not in the sky of Damascus, making it a fact in Detroit and not so in Damascus? So, does it follow the same logic, or is the arrival of the shari’i lunar month is an absolute matter and an independent astronomical phenomenon that is constant, in that it has nothing to do with the way different countries are scattered around the globe?

A. In response to this question, juridical research has come up with a theory; it lends support to the second assumption. It propounds that the inception of the month cannot be relative following where any particular country or area is located. It further suggests that it is wrong to judge the relativity of the start of the month by the variant sighting of the moon in different countries.

The theory maintains that sunrise happens as a result of this or that part of the earth facing the sun at this or that moment in time; and since different parts of the earth face the sun in turn by virtue of the earth’s round shape and its rotation around its axis, it is natural that sunrise is relative.

As for the inception of the lunar month, it comes about as a result of the moon breaking away from its pivotal point of its alignment with both the earth and sun. This is a specific astronomical phenomenon concerning the position the moon takes in relation to both the sun and the earth. It should, therefore, follow that such a phenomenon is not bound to be affected by this part of the earth or that; thus, neither assuming relativity makes sense, nor suggesting that the month starts in this part of the world on, say, a Saturday evening, and in another part on a Sunday evening.

The latter does not hold water too from of the methodology of research perspective. That is, because it does not make allowance for the difference between the natural lunar month and the shari’i one; the natural lunar month starts with the breaking away of the moon from its pivotal position of alignment and is not prone to be affected by any other factor. Since this occurrence could be viewed as a specific astronomical phenomenon, i.e. not yielding to this position or that, the theory of relativity does not make sense

The start of the shari’i lunar month is determined by two factors:

a. Astronomical, i.e. the point at which the moon breaks away from aligning position in relation to both the sun and the earth , and

b. The bright part of moon facing the earth should be visible. However, the possibility, or otherwise, of sighting the moon could be viewed as a relative matter, pursuant to the different areas in the globe; it could also be construed as an absolute one, not relenting to any influence.

So, if we mean by "the possibility of sighting" that sighting by man in this part or that of the globe is relative, making the start of the shari’i lunar month a fact in every part of the globe, following the sighting in that particular point on earth, it may start in one part and not the other. But, if we take the "possibility of sighting" to mean the possibility of sighting the moon even in any part of the world, this should herald its arrival to all the parts, and hence its absoluteness, i.e. the start remains one, despite the variance of the areas of the world.

It is evident, therefore, that since the birth of the shari’i lunar month is contingent on the crescent month, in addition to the possibility, or otherwise, of sighting it, and that such sighting can be feasible in certain parts of the world and not the others, it is plausible that the start of the month is relative.

The right methodology to ascertain whether or not the start of the shari’i month is a relative one is by consulting the shari’a itself. It has made the start of the month dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon. Here, we should attempt to find out whether the shari’a made the birth of the month in every area exclusive to that particular area, or the sighting thereof can be taken as a benchmark for all regions of the world.

What we can deduce, though, from juridical evidence gives credence to the second assumption, i.e. if the crescent is sighted in any spot of the world, this should be taken to mean that the start of the month is one everywhere.

How does the sighting of the crescent moon come about?

We have already seen that the start of the shari’i lunar month depends on two factors: a- the breaking away of the moon , from the point which aligns it with both the earth and the sun, and b- sighting it is feasible. Now, we should try to explain how best these can be achieved in a true shari’i way.

The following tools can be used:

67. a. Direct sighting with the naked eye as such sighting would enable the person carrying it out to see the crescent moon emerging and that it is possible to see for oneself. That or modern technology gives credence to the emerging of the moon and of the possibility of seeing it .

68 b. The testimony of other people who have made the sighting. However, there must exist one of two things for such testimony to be viable:

As for the first tool: He availability of numerous and varied types of witnesses for the news of sighting to become both commonplace and credible. However, should there be a large number of witnesses and neither knowledge of the sighting nor having peace of mind about it for a good reason, the sighting of the moon shall be deemed non-existent. That is, although the great number of witnesses may aid certainty, it is not everything in the equation.

Any sensible person must be able to take into account all that which may cast doubt on the reliability of the witnesses. The following examples should further explain what we are aiming at:

1. Suppose there were forty persons, in one town, who gave evidence that they had sighted the crescent moon. The strength of evidence of those people are greater than that of the same number of witnesses scattered over forty towns all over the world. This is because the chances of error that could emanate from the forty witnesses of one town is remote, contrary to those of the forty different towns.

2. Following on from the previous example, the opposite may happen, in that the witnesses of the one town may be given to emotions that are non-existent in the case of the witnesses of the other towns.

3. Just as it is necessary to ascertain the credibility of those who came forward and testified that they had sighted the moon, so is it necessary to take into consideration the number of people who, despite taking part in the lookout for the new moon, did not manage to affirm such sighting. The greater their numbers and clearer the weather in their respective areas, especially if such areas were close to the[ forty-witness]town, the greater the propensity to cast doubt over the final result.

4. The quality of witnesses has a great impact in reaching a conclusion ]on the sighting of the crescent moon[. That is, there is a great difference between forty witnesses who are readily given to lying, and another forty witnesses who are not known, and a third group who is known for their probity in some measure.

5. A number of testimonies, in one place, may achieve unanimity, in that a group of people, who took it upon themselves to be on the lookout for the new moon, all took a vantage point in relation to the horizon. Suppose one of them managed to sight the new moon. Pointing to the direction where he sighted it, another one managed to confirm the sighting, and so on. Thus, the testimony of the first witness is corroborated by the testimonies of other people in the group. Such testimonies should be credible because the possibility of their falling prey to error is rather remote.

6. Random agreement of certain details of different testimonies of a number of witnesses in one town, such as concurrence of both the time they sighted the moon and the time they said it disappeared, would inspire confidence that the sighting really happened.

7. Just as scientific tools have a positive role to play in confirming the sighting of the new moon, so have they a negative role on the process. That is, should there be no sighting done using such methods, this is bound to shake the confidence of man in the testimonies of ordinary folk no matter how great their numbers were.

8. What comes into play as well is scientifically [astronomically]predicting the birth of the new moon, in that it is bound to detract from any testimony of sighting the moon prior to the predicted date/time of the birth. This is irrespective of the fact that, although there is a margin of error in the prediction process, it may not be farther than the error that could tinge the testimonies. To say the least, the scientific evidence can still delay giving credence to the veracity of the human testimony.

69. b. The second tool: The Evidence

Such an evidence could be recognized when two factors become readily available:

1. Two male witnesses, known for their probity, should testify that they have sighted the new moon. Neither the testimony of one such man should be relied on, nor should the testimonies of women, although they may be of impeccable character.

2.The testimony of both men must be coherent.

3. There must not be strong proof pointing to the error of the evidence of the witnesses or that they have made a mistake. For example, two witnesses, out of a great number of people who were keeping a vigil to sight the new moon, could be the only two who claim to have sighted the moon. This is bound to detract from their evidence, especially when it is known that they were among a large number of people in the same spot, that they all have average eyesight, and that the weather was favorable.

70. c. The lapse of thirty days of the moon of the previous month. This is because the lunar month cannot be more than thirty days. So, even if the new moon could not be sighted, a new lunar month should start.

71. d. The Ruling of the Marji’. Such a ruling is enforceable and should be complied with, even by those who had no access to the validity of the evidence they used in reaching such an edict; this takes the following into account though:

1. The mukallafs have not the slightest idea about the validity, or lack of it, of the edict of the Marji’º in such a case, they should not have any alternative but to follow the edict.

2. The mukallafs may have an inkling that the Marji’ may have got it wrong, despite their knowledge and probity; in this case too, they should follow the edict of the Marji’.

3. The mukallafs may have reached the conclusion that the evidence the Marji’ used was not sufficient to have made him arrive at his judgment. This could be on the side of the witnesses who the mukallafs know are not up to scratch, regardless of whether they may have lied. In this case, the ruling of the Marji’ will have no enforceable power and the mukallafs are not bound to follow it.

4. The mukallafs may know for sure that the month has not yet started and that the Marji’ has made an error of judgment in declaring its inception prematurely. In this case, the mukallafs do not have to follow the ruling of the Marji’; they are free to act upon their own conviction.

What we mean by the "Marji’s confirming the start of the month" is the fact that he issues a statement to this effect and urges the Muslims to adhere to his ruling. Should the Marji’ reach such a conclusion, yet he did not make it public, this is not sufficient for anyone to act upon it, except for those who attain personal satisfaction.

Once the Marji’ issued a statement confirming the start of the month, all believers, including those who do not follow him in taqleed, yet believe that he fulfills the requirements of Marji’, must comply with his ruling.

72. e. It is not sufficient for the scientific efforts to confirm that the crescent moon has moved from the point of alignment with the sun and earth , they also have to confirm that it could be seen by the naked eye.

73. There are circumstances where the nature of the new moon can suggest that it was born the night before in spite of the fact that it was not sighted then. Things like its forming a semblance of a ring, the density of its bright side, and the length of its dwelling, so much so that it does not set until after dusk.

However, realistically speaking, such phenomena of the moon cannot be espoused as an exclusive evidence that it was born the night before. What all this can prove that the new moon may have emerged of muhaq at an earlier time to appear in such a look. It should then follow that it may not be possible that it could have been sighted at the sunset of the previous day. The length or shortness of the period the new moon emerging from its aligned point with both the sun and the earth should not be taken as a yardstick for determining that the moon is one night older.

Generally speaking, it is not permissible to rely on guesswork in ascertaining the birth of the new moon of the months Ramadhan and Shawwal, nor is it permissible to rely on the computations of speculative astronomers.


74. Once the crescent moon of the month of Ramadhan has been officially sighted, fast becomes obligatory. Likewise, once the crescent moon of Shawwal has been sighted the fasting season comes to an end.

Should nothing point to that which confirms that the month of Ramadhan has started, in one of the following ways, starting fast from the following day is not obligatory. It is not permissible to fast that day with the intention that it is part of the month, so long as its start has not been officially declared.

However, one can fast that day as part of the month of Sha’ban by way of voluntary fast or a compensatory one. The worshipper may also fast the day with a double-edge niyyah, i.e. by simply leaving it open-ended - to work for both the possibilities: Should it later on transpire that the hanging day was really part of the month of Ramadhan, the fast would be accepted as such.

75. Come the thirtieth night of the month of Ramadhan and with it the inconclusion that the month of Shawwal has not officially arrived yet. Fasting the following day becomes obligatory. If, however, it was found out that the month of Shawwal has already been with us, and that it should have been the first day of the Eid, which is unlawful to fast, there will be no harm as long as the worshipper fasts that day fully aware that the next month has not begin.

The mukallafs may reach some sort of conclusion that the following day will be the first of Shawwal. Yet, they neither entertain the idea of breaking their fast because of lack of conclusive lawful evidence, nor do they want to fast, for fear it might be the start of Eid. To overcome the impasse, they may resort to ihtiyat by way of embarking on lawful travel; this should, however, be undertaken overnight; should they delay it until day time, it is obligatory on them to make niyyah for fast and abstain from food and drink until they are far away from their place of domicile, the point at the periphery of a town where, for example, adhan could be heard. This concerns distances to determine whether prayer should be said tamam or qasr(, as has already been discussed in (para. 20). One may suggest that this worshipper may have already committed that which is unlawful by fasting that day believing it to be a Eid day?

A. What is unlawful is fasting the whole Eid day; fasting part of it is not.