Things that validate and invalidate fasting

The Arabic word for fasting is
called "sawm" in the Quran. The
word sawm literally means "to
abstain". Chapter Maryam of the
Quran says that Mary the mother
of Jesus said "I have vowed a
"sawm" (fast) for the sake of the
Merciful, so today I shall not speak
to anyone." [Quran 19:26 ].
According to Shariyah , the word
sawm means to abstain from all
those things that are forbidden
during fasting from the break of
dawn to the sunset, and to do this
with the intention of fasting.

Purpose of Fasting 
In chapter 2 verse 183 the Quran
says, "O you who believe, fasting is
prescribed for you as it was
prescribed for those who were
before you, in order that you may
learn taqwa (piety)".

Things That Invalidate the Fast
You must avoid doing anything
that may render your fast invalid.
Things that invalidate the fast and
require qadaa' (making up for these
days) are the following:
1 - Eating, drinking or smoking
deliberately, including taking any
non-nourishing items by mouth or
2 - Deliberately causing yourself to
3 - The beginning of menstrual or
post-childbirth bleeding even in the
last moment before sunset.
4 - Sexual intercourse or other
sexual contact (or masturbation)
that results in ejaculation (in men)
or vaginal secretions (orgasm) in
5 - Eating, drinking, smoking or
having sexual intercourse after Fajr
(dawn) on the mistaken
assumption that it is not Fajr time
yet. Similarly, engaging in these
acts before Maghrib (sunset) on
the mistaken assumption that it is
already Maghrib time.
Sexual intercourse during fasting is
forbidden. Those who engage in it
must make both qadaa' (make up
the fasts) and kaffarah (expiation
by fasting for 60 days after
Ramadan or by feeding 60 poor
people for each day of fast broken
in this way). According to Imam
Abu Hanifah, eating and/or
drinking deliberately during fast
also entail the same qadaa' and

Things That Do Not Invalidate Fasting
Using a miswak to clean your teeth
does not invalidate fasting
During fast, the following things are
1 - Taking a bath or shower. If
water is swallowed involuntarily it
will not invalidate the fast.
According to most of the jurists,
swimming is also allowed in
fasting, but one should avoid
diving, because that will cause the
water to go from the mouth or
nose into the stomach.
2 - Using perfumes, wearing
contact lenses or using eye drops.
3 - Taking injections or having a
blood test.
4 - Using miswak (tooth-stick) or
toothbrush (even with tooth paste)
and rinsing the mouth or nostrils
with water, provided it is not
overdone (so as to avoid
swallowing water).
5 - Eating, drinking or smoking
unintentionally, i.e., forgetting that
one was fasting. But one must
stop as soon as one remembers
and should continue one's fast.
6 - Sleeping during the daytime and
having a wet-dream does not break
one's fast. Also, if one has
intercourse during the night and
was not able to make ghusl (bathe)
before dawn, he or she can begin
fast and make ghusl later. Women
whose menstruation stops during
the night may begin fasting even if
they have not made ghusl yet. In
all these cases, bathing (ghusl) is
necessary but fast is valid even
without bathing.
7 - Kissing between husband and
wife is allowed in fasting, but one
should try to avoid it so that one
may not do anything further that is
forbidden during the fast.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, imam
and director o

f the Islamic Society of
Orange County, California, USA and
former president of the Islamic
Society of North America.

No comments