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The (quick) fiqh of Fasting

by Shaykh Mansur Ali
Source: Ilmgate




Definition: Fasting is to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sexual intercourse from dawn till dusk with the intention of worship.


Types of fasting:

1. Fard:

Fixed Fard:

1) Ramadan fast.

2) To vow to fast on a certain day if a wish or desire is fulfilled.

Non-fixed Fard:

1) Keeping missed Ramadan fast.

2) A non-fixed fast of pledge

2.  Wajib: A fast, which was broken for whatever reason is wajib to complete.

3.   Sunna: all those fasts that the Prophet kept and encouraged.

1)  ‘Ashura with the day before or after it.

2)  The six fasts of Shawwal.

4.   Mustahab:

1)      To fast every Mondays and Thursdays.

2)      The 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar month.

3)      On the day of Arafa (9th Dhil Hijj)

5.   Makruh:

1)      To fast only on the ‘Ashura

2)      To fast only on Saturday

3)      To fast only on Friday

4)      To fast on the day of doubt (shak) 30th Shaban/1st of Ramadan.

5)      To consecutively fast without breaking the fast

6.   Haram:

1)      To fast on the two days of ‘Id

2)      To fast on the days of tashriq (11th, 12th and 13th of Dhil Hijj)

Requirements for the fasting to be obligatory:

1.   Islam

2.   Puberty

3.   To be sane

4.   (To have the knowledge that fasting is necessary, for a person who has become Muslim in a non-Muslim country.

Requirements for the validity of fasting:

1.   To refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and intercourse from dawn till dusk.

2.   to have the intention of fasting.

3.   To be free from any kind of religious impediment such as, in the case of women to be free from menses and post-natal bleeding.

Exception from fasting:

1.   The insane.

2.   Children who have not yet become adults (pubescent)

3.   A traveler.

4.   A sick person

5.   A pregnant woman or a suckling mother who fears for the child in her womb or the suckling babe.

6.   A woman who is in her monthly cycle, or post-childbirth confinement.

7.   The elderly or chronically ill.

1)      In this case they have to give compensation for each day missed, with the intention that if they ever are to become healthy again then they have to keep qada.

2)      If he is poor then he should ask Allah for forgiveness for not being able to fast.

a) The fidya is equivalent to what is given on eid day as sadaqat al-fitr, approximately £2.50.

3)      In the case that someone dies because of illness and did not give fidya, then it is not wajib for the offspring to pay fidya on his behalf.

4)       If he becomes well then it is necessary to write a will, if he dies without writing a will then it is not binding on the offspring to give fidya on his behalf.

5)      However, if he has written a will, then it is necessary for the inheritors to pay fidya from one third of the deceased’s wealth.

6)      It is not permissible to pray or keep fast on someone else’s behalf.

7)      Food can be given on behalf of the deceased.

Things which invalidate the fast:

This can be placed into two categories, (1) Where qada and kaffara are obligatory, and (2) where onlyqada is obligatory.

1.  Qada and kaffara are wajib:

1)    To eat or drink anything, even for medicinal purposes (providing that its not an emergency situation).

2)    To have sexual intercourse, irrelevant of normal or anal sex, and irrelevant of if ejaculation took place or not.  (Note: this in no way is implying the permissibility of anal sex)

3)   To smoke intentionally, or to take in fumes intentionally such as agar bati and incense sticks.

2.  Places where only the qada is obligatory and not the kaffara:

1) To eat or drink such a thing which is not normally consumed, for example to eat glass or to drink cow urine.

2) To break the fast because of intense hunger or thirst.

3) To take medicine in a life threatening situation.

4) Eating, drinking, smoking and have intercourse after dawn on the mistaken assumption that it is not dawn yet.  Similarly, engaging in these acts before sunset on the mistaken assumption that it is already

Maghrib time.

5) To break the fast intentionally after eating, drinking, smoking or having intercourse by mistake, thinking that the fast has already broken.

6) Eating food, which is stuck between the teeth and is bigger than the size of a chickpea.

a) If the food is taken out of the mouth and then inserted back into the mouth then the fast breaks irrelevant of its size.

7) Swallowing water due to excessive gargling.

8)  Ejaculation due to reasons other than intercourse such as kissing or fore playing with ones wife and vice versa.

9)  Masturbation.

10)  To insert anything into the private part.

11)  Women beginning their menses or post-natal bleeding.

12)  Deliberately vomiting (mouth full)

Things which do not invalidate the fast:

1.  To eat, drink, smoke or have intercourse unintentionally.

2.  Unintentional vomiting.

3.  Bathing

4.  Use of facial cream, perfumes, oil, eye mascara and make up.

5.  Injections

6.  To be in the state of impurity after dawn

7.  To brush the teeth

8.  To swallow something which is stuck between the teeth and is less than the size of a chickpea.

9.  Smoke or dust getting into ones mouth unintentionally

10. Playing with ones wife, providing there is no seminal discharge

11.  Ejaculation due to looking at the private part of ones spouse, or due to entertaining sexual thoughts.

Things that are undesirable (makruh):

1.  To chew something like gum or rubber, providing there is no flavor.

2.  To taste food with the tip of ones tongue.

3.  To collect saliva in the mouth and swallow it in large quantity.

4.  To use toothpaste

5.  To back bite

6.  To quarrel and use filthy and indecent language.

Things that are desirable (mustahabb):

1.  To break the fast on time

2.  To prolong the sehri to the last part of the night

3.  To do as much good actions as possible

4.  To reply to someone who is looking for a fight ‘I am fasting’.

5.  To pray (dua) at the time of iftar

6.  To break the fast with dates if not then with water.

Kaffara or penalty of atonement:

Kaffara is a penalty of atonement that becomes necessary when a Ramadan fast is deliberately broken, without a valid reason through eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse in the month of Ramadan. There is no kaffara for any fast broken outside of Ramadan, even if it is a make-up Ramadan fast.  Likewise there is no kaffara if one is forced by someone else to break the fast or if one broke the fast by accident (although those fasts would still need to be made up). The kaffara penalty is in the following order:

1.  To set a slave free (Anyone who owns a slave and purposely breaks a Ramadan fast must free the slave. Only if one does not own a slave then the next option below applies. Since slavery is illegal is most places this provision will not apply to most people, nevertheless it remains important to remember that Islamic Law has mechanisms like this that force slave owners to free slaves.)

2.  To fast for sixty consecutive days

3. To feed sixty poor people two average meals

According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the penalty must be carried out in this order such that each subsequent option only takes effect when the previous one is not possible. So feeding sixty poor people will only become an option when one is permanently disabled from fasting such as due to a chronic illness.


1.   The tarawih prayer is sunna mu’akkada, therefore has to be prayed

2.   It is 20 raka’ahs, proven from the unanimous consensus of the Sahaba.

3.  If a person is ill and is not able to perform the tarawih, then eight raka’ahs is better then leaving it altogether.

4.  In the case that a person cannot even pray eight, and then it is all right to leave it, providing the excuse is genuine.  Qada’ is not needed.


1.  The i’tikaf is sunna ‘ala kifaya (a communal sunna)

2.  One is only permitted to leave the mosque for bathing and answering to the call of nature.

3.  Women should make a quarter in their homes their place of i’tikaf.

Sadaqat al-Fitr:

1.  Sadaqat al-fitr is wajib upon every single individual who were alive at the time of sunrise on the day of‘id al-fitr.

2.  Everyone should pay his or her own sadaqa.

3.  In the case of children who are not earning then the head of the house should pay on their behalf.

4.  The sadqat al-fitr is determined by finding the value of 1.1 kg of barley, which is approximately £2.50.


Badawi, Jamal: Siyam, IPCI Birmingham

Haq, Dawatul (ed): Taleemul Haqq, Darul Ishaat, Karachi

Hussain, Musharraf: The Blessing of Ramadan, The invitation publishing house, Nottingham

Ibn Abidin, Muhammad Amin: Radd al-Muhtar vol 3, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, Beirut

Lajpuri, Abd al-Rahim: Fatawa Rahimiyya, Darul Ishaat, Karachi

Qaradawi, Yusuf: Fiqh al-Siyam, Mu’assasat al-Risala, Cairo

Sabiq, Sayyid: Fiqh al-Sunna, Darul Fath, Cairo

Sharunbalali, Hasan Ali: Nur al-Idah, Qadimi kutub khana, Karachi

Tahtawi: Maraqi l-Falah, Qadimi kutub khana, Karachi

Zaylai, Jamal Uddin: Nasb al-Raya fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidaya, (ed) Muhammad Awwama, Dar al-Qibla, Jeddah

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