Fasting during Ramadan offers spiritual and physical benefits. It is a training period for Muslims to strengthen their faith and withdraw from sinning throughout the rest of the year. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims are guided to protect their fast from certain things and actions to reap the reward of fasting.
Breaking your fast is a heavy loss, as mentioned by the Prophet SAW:
“Whoever breaks the fast during Ramadan without an allowance or illness, then if he fasted for all time, his fasting would not make up for it.” Jami at-Tirmidhi, 273
Therefore, protecting our fast against all such actions that nullify the fast is mandatory. In this guide, we’ll explore the things that can break your fast so that you can avoid them.
The things that break your fast can be broadly divided into two categories. One is ingested, and the other is expelled from the body.
Let's look at each in details.
Voluntarily eating and drinking breaks the fast. It refers to food reaching your stomach. For that reason, it is advised to avoid snuffing the nose during fast, as the water can reach your throat via the nose.
However, accidentally consuming food does not invalidate your fast. The Prophet SAW said:
“If somebody eats something forgetfully while he is fasting, then he should complete his fast, for Allah SWT has made him eat and drink.” Sahih al-Bukhari, 6669
Smoking also breaks the fast. The act of smoking involves inhaling smoke, which enters the body and is absorbed by the lungs, and this breaks the fast as it is considered a form of nourishment. In addition, smoking can have negative health effects, and it is not recommended to smoke at any time, especially during Ramadan when the focus is on spiritual and physical purification. Therefore, it is important for individuals who fast during Ramadan to refrain from smoking during fasting hours.
Taking medicine orally in the form of tablets, capsules, or syrups breaks the fast. Similarly, injections also invalidate the fast as it contains a substance that nourishes the body. Additionally, receiving a blood transfusion is not allowed while fasting, as it invalidates the fast.
Moreover, nose sprays and eye & ear drops also break the fast as they can reach the abdomen through open ports.
Kidney dialysis breaks the fast during Ramadan. Dialysis involves using a machine to remove waste products and excess fluids from the blood, which can take several hours to complete. During this time, the individual undergoing dialysis receives substances such as sugars and salts through the dialysis machine, which are considered to break the fast as they provide nourishment and hydration to the body.
Therefore, if a person is undergoing kidney dialysis, they are exempt from fasting during Ramadan and can make up for the missed fasts later when their health allows them to do so. It is recommended that individuals on dialysis consult with their healthcare provider and a qualified religious authority determine the best course of action regarding fasting during Ramadan.
Vomiting deliberately breaks the fast, and the person must make up for the broken fast. Vomiting deliberately means indulging in activities that lead to vomiting, such as sticking fingers in the throat, smelling something gross, looking at disgusting things, etc. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Whoever vomits involuntarily does not have to make up the fast, but whoever vomits deliberately lets him make up the fast.” Sahih al-Tirmidhi, 577
However, involuntary vomiting does not break the fast, as mentioned by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “If one has a sudden attack of vomiting while one is fasting, no atonement is required of him, but if he vomits intentionally, he must make atonement.” Sahih (Al-Albani) Sunan Abu Dawud 2380
Menstruation is another thing that invalidates the fast when it starts before sunset. It is a natural cycle a female body goes through, which Islam regards as a state of impurity. Menstruation lowers physical energy and causes discomfort, fatigue, and dehydration, which fasting can exacerbate. Thus, women are exempt from fasting during menstruation but must make up for the missing fasts later.
It is not recommended to prevent or delay the period to fast during Ramadan and incur harm. Muslim women can compensate for the missed fasts when they attain purity again. It is important to note that menstruating women are still encouraged to engage in acts of worship, such as doing Zikr, to maintain their spiritual connection with Allah during Ramadan.
Fasting is not only an act of abstaining from food and drink but also from other worldly desires, including physical and mental ones. Masturbation is a means of satisfaction with physical desires, thus invalidating the fast as it leads to ejaculation. If the masturbating person stops before ejaculation, their fast is valid, but they must repent. But the masturbating person who reaches the stage of ejaculation must seek repentance from Allah, abstain from eating and drinking for the remainder of the day, and make up for the missed fast later.
Sexual intercourse with your partner during the fast is considered the most sinful act invalidating the fast. Muslims involved in such an act have to respent, keep from food and drink until sunset and offer expiation. Allah mentions in the Holy Book:
“It has been made permissible for you to be intimate with your wives during the nights preceding the fast. Your spouses are a garment1 for you as you are for them. Allah knows that you were deceiving yourselves. So He has accepted your repentance and pardoned you. So now you may be intimate with them and seek what Allah has prescribed for you. ˹You may˺ eat and drink until you see the light of dawn breaking the darkness of night, then complete the fast until nightfall. Do not be intimate with your spouses while you are meditating in the mosques. These are the limits set by Allah, so do not exceed them. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to people, so they may become mindful ˹of Him”. Surah Al-Baqarah – Verse 187
Post-natal bleeding is regarded as impure, similar to menstruation. Therefore, women who are experiencing post-natal bleeding are exempt from fasting during Ramadan.
Hijama also invalidates the fast, which involves suctioning blood or lymphatic fluids from specific points on the body using glass or plastic cups. In Islamic teachings, Hijama is considered a therapeutic practice for medical purposes. However, indulging in it during a fast nullifies it. In a narration by Abu Dawud, the Prophet SAW said: “The cupper and the one for whom cupping is done have both invalidated their fast.” ( Sahih Abi Dawud, 2047)
With a clear understanding of the things that invalidate your fast, you can better protect your fast. And you can strive to collect as many blessings of Ramadan as possible while avoiding the things that break the fast.
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