Notes on the Fiqh of Fasting

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following are notes on the fiqh of fasting and various jurisprudential rulings.  They are not meant to be conclusive, but rather to clear some doubts and address common issues that may arise.

Those things which one could not protect one’s self from, such as swallowing one's saliva, the dust of the road, sifting flour and so on are all overlooked.  These are inevitable and unavoidable.  ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) ruled that there is no problem with tasting liquid food or something one wishes to purchase.  This is so since the intention is not to break the fast.

Hasan (r.a.) used to chew the walnuts for his grandson while he was fasting.  Ibrahim (r.a.) also permitted that.  Chewing gum which has no sweetness or fragrance is disliked.  The gum must not break into pieces.  If it does break into pieces and parts enter the stomach, the fast is broken.  Those who say that it is disliked include Imam ash-Sha’bi (r.a.), Imam an-Nakha’i (r.a.), the Hanafi madzhab, the Shafi’i madzhab and the Hanbali madzhab.  Chewing gum with flavour and fragrance will break the fast.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) permitted chewing, as nothing reaches the stomach and it is just like putting pebbles into one's mouth provided it does not break into parts.  If a part of it breaks off and enters the stomach, it will break the fast.

Shaykh ibn Taimiyyah (r.a.) said, “Smelling perfumes does not harm the fast."  Expanding upon the subject, he says, "As for kohl injections, drops dropped into the urethra, enemas for medicinal purposes, and treatment for brain and stomach injuries, there is some dispute among the scholars.  Some say that none of these break the fast, some say that all except kohl would break the fast, while others say all except the drops break the fast, or that the kohl or drops do not break the fast but that the rest do.”  Shaykh ibn Taimiyyah (r.a.) continued, “The first opinion on this question is preferred.  The most apparent conclusion is that none of them break the fast.  The fast is part of the religion of Islam.  Both the layman and specialist must be knowledgeable about it.  If the preceding actions were forbidden by Allah and His Messenger to the fasting person because they would ruin the fast, then it would have been obligatory upon the Messenger to clarify that fact.  If he had done so, his companions would have known about it and would have passed it on to the rest of the Muslims.  Since no one has related that not from the Prophet, neither with an authentic or a weak hadits, nor in mursal or musnad form then it must be the case that such acts do not void,” referring to the fast.

He also said, “If the ruling is one that would affect everyone or everyday matters, then the Prophet would have clarified it to a general audience.  It is well-known that kohl was in common use as were oils, washing, incense, and perfume.  If they broke the fast, the Prophet (s.a.w.) would have mentioned them, as he mentioned other things.  Since he did not do so, they belong to the class of perfumes, incense, and dyes.  Incense goes through the nose and enters the head and lands on the body.  Dyes or oils are absorbed by the skin and the body is refreshened by it.  The case of perfumes is similar.  Since these have not been prohibited to the fasting person, it points to the fact that using them is permissible for the fasting person and so is kohl.

During the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the Muslims would injure themselves, either from jihad or otherwise, and would injure their stomachs or skulls.  If that would have ended their fasts, it would have been made clear to them by the Prophet (s.a.w.).  Since that was not prohibited for the fasting person, it must not break the fast.”

Shaykh ibn Taimiyyah (r.a.) further continued, “No one eats kohl and no one causes it to enter his stomach - neither through his nose nor through his mouth.  Anal enemas are also not taken as food.  Indeed, it helps the body to release whatever is in the intestines and it does not reach the stomach.  Any medicine that is used to treat stomach wounds or head injuries [that is taken orally] is not considered similar to food.  Allah Says in the Qur'an:

O ye who believe!  Fasting is Prescribed to you as it was Prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint. ― (Surah al-Baqarah:183)

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, ‘Fasting is a shield,’ and, ‘Verily Satan rushes through the body like the flowing of the blood.  You should constrict his rushing by hunger and fasting.’  To increase his God-consciousness a fasting person must not eat or drink because food and drink cause the veins to fill up with blood in which Satan circulates.  They become easier for Satan through eating and drinking, not from enemas, kohl, or medicines applied through the penis or used to treat stomach and brain injuries.”

Fasting, the fasting person can eat, drink, and perform sexual intercourse until fajr:  If someone has food in his mouth when fajr is beginning, he should spit it out.  If he is having intercourse with his spouse at that time, he should immediately stop.  If he does so, his fast will still be valid.  If he continues in these actions at that time, he will have broken his fast.  Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim record from ‘Aishah (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Bilal makes the call to prayer while it is still night; therefore, eat and drink until ibn Umm Maktum makes the call to prayer.”

It is permissible for the fasting person to be sexually defiled in the morning.  That person is not required to perform ghusl before fajr:  The hadits is from ‘Aishah (r.a.).

If the blood of a menstruating woman or of a woman with post-child birth bleeding stops during the night, she can delay ghusl until the morning and still fast but, she must perform ghusl before the morning prayer.


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