by Ibrahim Iliyasu
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and holds many benefits for Muslims.
This is essentially true because it purges believers of their evil and shortcomings and gets them closer to Allah, the Almighty.
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The Quran, for example, says: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain piety (and self-restraint)” (Al-Baqarah: Chapter 2:183).
Ramadan is the month of endless blessings for Muslims as it offers countless opportunities for earning rewards, attainment of piety, physical and spiritual purification as well as self-restraint.
Since Muslims essentially fast the entire month to get more rewards and attain spiritual purification, they must appreciate the fact that there are challenges along the line.
In other words, there are factors/things that invalidate fasting and render it more or less useless. To get their full reward, therefore, believers must take cognizance of those factors and strive very hard to avoid them.
In this article, we will examine five things that invalidate fasting.
1. Having sexual relations with a spouse
If anyone has any sexual relation with their spouse during the day in the month of Ramadan then their fast is rendered invalid. This is one of the most serious ways of nullifying a fast and it attracts heavy punishment.
To expiate for the sin, one must free a slave. If they are unable to do that, they must fast for two consecutive months. Moreover, if they are also incapable of doing that, they should feed 60 poor people.
Similarly, if someone discharges sperm due to kissing, touching, masturbating or any other deliberate act with the opposite sex, it will in effect invalidate their fast.
However, if someone releases semen while asleep due to wet dream or any other means, this does not invalidate their fast they have no control over it.
2. Eating and Drinking
Once a person intentionally eats or drinks anything during the day in the month of Ramadan, then his fast becomes null and void.
This fundamentally involves getting food or water via the nose into the stomach. In this regard, the Prophet SAW commanded that: “Snuff up water deeply into the nose (when doing wudoo’), except when you are fasting.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 788).
As a matter of fact, there are many ways of getting food into the body such as through injection or taking a food supplement pill, for example.
Similarly, blood transfusion to someone who is fasting breaks the person’s fast as it’s scientifically proven that blood is formed from food and drink.
However, injections that do not add any form of nourishment to the body and are administered for medical purposes do not invalidate the fast.
3. Blood Cupping
The fact that blood Cupping invalidates fasting is understandable and is strongly supported by Prophetic tradition stating that: “The cupper and the one for whom cupping is done have both invalidated their fast.”
This Hadith was narrated by Abu Dawood, 2367; and classified as Saheeh by Sheikh al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2047.
The same rule applies for blood donation as a lot of blood is extracted from a body in the course of transfusion.
It should be noted, however, that if a person is compelled to donate blood to someone then he must.
As this donation renders his fast invalid, he will have to make up for that fast another day.
Nevertheless, if someone loses blood due to tooth extraction, injury or nose bleeding, their fast remains valid.
4. Intentional vomiting
If a person deliberately vomits during the day, then their fast is nullified.
Notwithstanding, the fast remains valid if the vomiting is not deliberate.
This judgement is substantiated by the tradition of the Prophet PBUH that says: “Whoever vomits involuntarily does not have to make up the fast, but whoever vomits deliberately let him make up the fast.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 720, classified as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 577.
5. Menstrual or Postnatal Bleeding
A woman’s fasting is deemed invalid if she has her period even if it is just moments before sunset.
However, if she feels her period has started but still hasn’t seen any blood then her fasting is valid.
Moreover, if a woman’s menstruation ends at night and she intends to fast the next day but for some reason she fails to perform ghusl beyond dawn, Muslim jurists have agreed that her fast is still valid.
For a fast to become invalid in all of the factors elaborated above except for menstrual or postnatal bleeding, three conditions must be met.
1. The person did it knowingly, not out of ignorance
2. The person did it intentionally, not out of forgetfulness.
3.The person did it willingly, and not under force or compulsion, coercion.
Dr. Ibrahim Ilyasu is a Kano-based Imam and academic.