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Inquiries about fasting

Q: Regarding the intention of fasting, is it obligatory that I mention the intention every day? And what is its significance?

A: The intention of fasting is obligatory on the person; this involves setting the intention to abstain from mufattirat (listed below) throughout the time allocated for fasting, which stretches from the rise of true dawn until sunset. True dawn starts the moment when light spreads horizontally in the eastern horizon, then starts to spread gradually; sunset takes place when the disc of the sun disappears from the horizon, although it is better to wait (not to break the fast) until the eastern redness disappears.

It is sufficient to set in the intention to decide fasting from the beginning of the month, for it is sufficient to have the firm decision within oneself to fast without bringing this decision to mind every night for fasting every day.

The meaning of the intention at dawn does not mean that the person stays awake at that time in order to set the intention, but it means that he spends that night (sleeping or awake) with the firm decision to fast the following day; thus the rise of dawn while he is asleep does not affect this intention as long as it is firm within him.

The intention of fasting must continue to exist throughout the day; we can imagine several situations where the intention does not continue:

1- If the person decides to break the fast, such as if he decides to take a muftir (singular of mufattirat); in this case his fast is invalidated even if he does not take any muftir.

2- If he becomes hesitant about continuing or breaking the fast then he decides to keep on fasting before he takes any muftir; here there are two situations:

a- If this happens out of doubt regarding the validity or fasting, in this case the fast is valid without any consequences.

b- If this does not happen because of this doubt, in this case his fasting is valid, although it is better to perform Qadha’ of that day.

Q: What are the Mufattirats other than eating and drinking?

Sexual intercourse

Sexual intercourse that breaks the fast takes place when the length of the penis head - at least - enters into the vagina, also the anus as an obligatory precaution. It breaks the fast for both the man and the woman, adult or otherwise, and for someone who inserts his penis and the other party whether an animal or otherwise as an obligatory precaution, dead or alive, whether the semen comes out or not.


Masturbation takes place when semen comes out of the man through acts, imaginations or scenes that lead to ejaculation. There are two conditions for this:

(1) It is probable that its coming out is because of that act, imagination or scene;

(2) He is not certain of his ability to control himself to prevent the semen coming out.

Based on this, there are three situations that can be imagined for the fast not becoming void by as a result of ejaculation:

1- If it was not probable for him that the semen would come out but it did come out unintentionally.

2- If he was certain that it would not come out but it did against his expectation.

3- If the semen came out without reason, or due to an illness.

Fourth: Staying intentionally in a state of Al-Hadath Al-Akbar

The fast is rendered broken if the person intentionally stays in a state of Al-Hadath Al-Akbar, the details of which are:

First: If the Hadath is haid or nifas and purity took place during the night and she did not wash on purpose until dawn, in this case her fasting is not valid. That said, the validity of her fast may be assumed in the following two cases: first, that she did not know that she had become pure before dawn, or she did know but forgot to wash; second, she knew that she had become pure but at a time that was too short to achieve purity, even by tayammom. In both of these cases, she must fast the following day and the fast is acceptable.

Second: If the Hadath was excessive or medium istihadha, in this case it is not obligatory for the validity of the fast that she had performs the wash for the two evening prayers (i.e. Maghreb and Isha), nor the daytime washes; however the recommended precaution to perform the daytime washes is emphasized.

Third: If the Hadath was touching the dead, then it does not affect the fast if this took place during the day; also, it is allowed to intentionally stay unwashed after it during the night until dawn.

Fourth: If the Hadath was janabah during the night, when awake, whether because of intercourse or otherwise, it is an obligatory precaution for the person to wash before dawn, and if he/she delays it intentionally, he must continue with his fast and fast again as Qadha’ with kaffarah (atonement) as an obligatory precaution. The same applies to the person who has janabah because of a wet dream (ihtilam) and wakes up before dawn and finds the janabah.

The ruling regarding someone who has had janabah during the night concerning sleeping before dawn rests on two situations:

If they intended to wake up to wash before dawn, here there are two possibilities:

a- That it was their habit to wake up, or that they set an alarm to wake them up; in this case they are allowed to continue to sleep on for two periods of sleep, and if their sleeping during the first or the second period stretches until dawn, their fasting is valid without consequences; and if they go to sleep a third time and do not wake up, their fasting will also be valid but, as an obligatory precaution, with Qadha’ without kaffarahif the janabah occurred while they were awake, such as with intercourse etc; but if the janabah occurred through a wet dream and he wakes up then goes to sleep for two periods, in this case Qadha’ will not be a precaution for the third sleep.

b- That it was not their habit to wake up and they did not set an alarm to wake them up; in this case they are not allowed to sleep before washing, and if they go to sleep intentionally, they will have sinned and have to continue their fast then perform Qadha’ and kaffarahas an obligatory precaution, whether the janabah occurred when they were awake or during a dream after which they woke up.

If they did not intend to wake up, in this case the ruling is exactly the same as in (b) above.

If they have janabah during the night but forget to wash until dawn, here they should continue their fast without consequences, whether during Ramadan or otherwise.

The ruling of intentionally staying in a state of Al- Hadath Al- Akbarof a janabah, haid or nifas is exclusive to the fast that is obligatory originally, whether specified or not, such as the fasting of Ramadan, its Qadha’, the kaffarah fast, fasting instead of the hadi (slaughtering an animal in the pilgrimage) etc, hence this (staying in a state of Hadath until dawn) does not affect a recommended fast even if it becomes obligatory by a vow or the like.

If the time was too short for the person with janabah during the night to wash before dawn, he must perform tayammom instead of washing to make his fasting valid, then he has to wash for the prayer afterwards. However, if he intentionally puts himself in a state of janabah at a time when he knows that there will not be sufficient time either for washing or tayammom, in this case his ruling is that of the one who intentionally stayed with janabah.

It is more probable that the ruling that waking up with janabah does not invalidate the fast is for the fasting of Ramadan in particular, although the precaution to regard it as invalidating the fast should not be disregarded.

Q: What about intravenous injections?

The fasting person will have, as an obligatory precaution, broken his fast if he has an enema using fluids, even if for treatment. An enema with solids, such as suppositories or ointments, however, will not affect the validity of the fast.

The above ruling is specific to the enema being given in the anus; as for other places, it does not break the fast.

Other mufatirat include:

Intentional vomiting

The fast is broken by intentional vomiting, as an obligatory precaution, even if it is necessary; however, if the vomit comes out without control or intention, it is not a muftir.

Sometimes some food may come up to the mouth cavity; here if the person fasting swallows it, their fast becomes void.

The fast is not broken by the following:

First: lying or falsifying narrations or the words of Allah the Most High, His Messenger or the Imams (as). It is important to note that it is better to perform Qadha’ afterwards.

Second: Immersing the head in water, but it is an obligatory precaution to abstain from this, even if doing so does not invalidate the fast.

Third: Intentionally letting thick or thin dust inside the body, although it is better to avoid thick dust.

Fourth: Smoke coming up from chimneys, cars etc; also vapor, even if thick.

The mentioned mufattiratat validate the fast on two conditions:

First: The fasting person knows that what he is taking is muftir; the ruling of the ignorant who does not know this is as follows:

a- If his ignorance is due failure to know that what he is doing or taking is one of the mufattirat, and he takes it believing that it does not invalidate the fast, in this case his fast remains valid, unless this concerns prohibited things such as masturbation when he knows that this is prohibited, in which case his fast is broken by his act even though he believes that it is not a muftir. Also, his fast remains valid if he knows that an enema with a fluid, for example, is a muftir but he believes that what is inside the enema is solid, so he takes the enema but discovers afterwards that it has fluid.

b- His ignorance is due to failure to learn that the thing or act is a muftir, regardless of whether it is allowed or prohibited originally.

Second: The fasting person intentionally does or takes a muftir, meaning that he realizes and is aware of it when doing or taking it; this does not apply to the person who is not intending to do it or does or takes it out of lack of awareness or forgetfulness - this applies in all types of fasting. Therefore, the person who intentionally acts or takes a muftir includes:

a- Whoever breaks the fast on the basis of an excuse such as an illness or teqiyyeh (to avoid persecution or harm from others).

b- Whoever breaks the fast in disobedience to Allah.

c- Whoever is forced to break the fast if he himself takes the muftir with his own hands; however if the food is inserted into his mouth by someone forcing him to do this and the fasting person swallows it, this would not invalidate the fast.

It is recommended to abstain from touching, kissing or courting one’s wife if one is certain that semen will not come out due to this act.

The aforementioned are in accordance to “The Islamic Rulings, a Guide to Islamic Practices” by His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)