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Ayatollah Sistani: Things that make a fast void

Things which make a Fast void

  • There are nine acts which invalidate fast:

Eating and drinking

Sexual intercourse

Masturbation (Istimna) which means self abuse, resulting in ejaculation

Ascribing false things to Almighty Allah, or his Prophet or to the successors of the Holy Prophet

Swallowing thick dust

Immersing one’s complete head in water

Remaining in Janabat or Haidh or Nifas till the Adhan for Fajr prayers

Enema with liquids

Vomiting

Eating and drinking

  • If a person eats or drinks something intentionally, while being conscious of fasting, his fast becomes void, irrespective of whether the thing which he ate or drank was usually eaten or drunk (for example bread with water) or not (for example earth or the juice of a tree) and whether it is more or less; even if a person, who is fasting, takes the tooth brush (Miswak) out of his mouth and then puts it back into his mouth, swallowing its liquid, his fast will be void, unless the moisture in the tooth brush mixes up with the saliva in such a way that it may no longer be called an external wetness.
  • If while eating and drinking, a person realises that it is Fajr, he should throw the food out of his mouth, and if he swallows it intentionally, his fast is void, and according to the rules which will be mentioned later, it also becomes obligatory on him to give Kaffarah.
  • If a person who is fasting eats or drinks something forgetfully, his fast does not become invalid.
  • There is no objection to an injection which anaesthetises one’s limb or is used for some other purpose being given to a person, who is observing fast, but it is better that the injections which are given as medicine or food are avoided.
  • If a person observing fast intentionally swallows something which remained in between his teeth, his fast is invalidated.
  • If a person wishes to observe a fast, it is not necessary for him to use a toothpick before the Adhan of Fajr prayers. However, if he knows that some particles of food which have remained in between his teeth, will go down into his stomach during the day, then he must clean his teeth with toothpick.
  • Swallowing saliva does not invalidate a fast, although it may have collected in one’s mouth owing to thoughts about sour things etc.
  • There is no harm in swallowing one’s phlegm or mucous from head and chest as long as it does not come upto one’s mouth. However, if it reaches one’s mouth, the obligatory precaution is that one should not swallow it.
  • If a person observing fast becomes so thirsty that he fears that he may die of thirst or sustain some harm or extreme hardship, he can drink as much water as would ensure that the fear is averted. However, his fast becomes invalid, and if it is the month of Ramadhan, as an obligatory precaution, he should not drink more than that, and then for the rest of the day, refrain from all acts which would invalidate the fast.
  • Chewing food to feed a child or a bird and tasting food etc. which does not usually go down the throat, will not invalidate the fast, even if it happens to reach there inadvertently. However, if a person knows beforehand that it will reach the throat, his fast becomes void, and he should observe its qadha and it is also obligatory upon him to give Kaffarah.
  • A person cannot abandon fast on account of weakness. However, if his weakness is to such an extent that fasting becomes totally unbearable, there is no harm in breaking the fast.

Sexual intercourse

  • Sexual intercourse invalidates the fast, even if the penetration is as little as the tip of the male organ, and even if there has been no ejaculation.
  • If the penetration is less than the tip of the male organ, so that it cannot be said that intercourse has taken place, also if no ejaculation takes place, the fast does not become invalid. This applies to both, circumcised and uncircumcised men.
  • If a person commits sexual intercourse intentionally and then doubts whether penetration was upto the point of circumcision or not his fast, as an obligatory precaution, becomes invalid, and it is necessary for him to observe its qadha. It is not, however, obligatory on him to give Kaffarah.
  • If a person forgets that he is observing fast and commits sexual intercourse or he is compelled to have sexual intercourse in a manner that makes him helpless, his fast does not become void. However, if he remembers (that he is observing fast) or ceases to be helpless during sexual intercourse, he should withdraw from the sexual intercourse at once, and if he does not, his fast becomes void.

Istimna (Masturbation)

  • If a person, who is observing fast, performs masturbation (Istimna), his fast becomes void (The explanation of istimna has been given in rule 1581/iii).
  • If semen is discharged from the body of a person involuntarily, his fast does not become void.
  • Even if a person observing fast knows that if he sleeps during the day time he will become Mohtalim (i.e. semen will be discharged from his body during sleep) it is permissible for him to sleep, even if he may not be inconvenienced by not sleeping. And if he becomes Mohtalim, his fast does not become void.
  • If a person who is observing fast, wakes up from sleep while ejaculation is taking place, it is not obligatory on him to stop it.
  • A fasting person who has become Mohtalim can urinate even if he knows that by urinating the remaining semen will flow from his body.
  • If a fasting person who has become Mohtalim, knows that some semen has remained in his body and if he does not urinate before taking Ghusl, it will come out after Ghusl, he should on the basis of recommended precaution, urinate before taking Ghusl.
  • A person who indulges in courtship with an intention to allow semen to be discharged, will complete his fast and also observe its qadha, even if semen is not discharged.
  • If a fasting person indulges in courtship without the intention of allowing the semen to be discharged, and also, if he is sure that semen will not be discharged, his fast is in order, even if semen may be discharged unexpectedly. However, if he is not sure about the discharge and it takes place, then his fast is void.

Ascribing lies to Allah and His Prophet

  • If a person who is observing fast, intentionally ascribes something false to Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his vicegerents (a.s.), verbally or in writing or by making a sign, his fast becomes void, even if he may at once retract and say that he has uttered a lie or may repent for it. And, as a recommended precaution, he should refrain from imputing lies to Bibi Fatema Zahra (a.s.) and all the Prophets and their successors.
  • If a person observing fast wishes to quote something about which he has no authority or he does not know whether it is true or false, he should, as an obligatory precaution, give a reference of the person who reported it, or of the book in which it is written.
  • If a person quotes something as the word of Allah or of the Holy Prophet with the belief that it is true, but realises later that it is false, his fast does not become void.
  • If a person ascribes something to Almighty Allah or the Holy Prophet knowing it to be false and understands later that it was true, as an obligatory precaution, he should complete his fast and should also observe its qadha.
  • If a person intentionally ascribes to Allah or the Holy Prophet or the successors of the Holy Prophet a falsehood fabricated by some other person, his fast becomes void. However, if he quotes the person who has fabricated that falsehood, his fast will not be affected.
  • If a person who is observing fast, is asked whether the Holy Prophet said such and such thing and he intentionally says ‘No’ where he should say ‘Yes’ or intentionally says ‘Yes’ where he should say ‘No’, his fast becomes void, as an obligatory precaution.
  • If a person quotes a true word of Allah or of the Holy Prophet, and later says that he had uttered a lie, or if he ascribed something false to them at night, and says on the following day when he is observing fast, that what he said on the previous night was true, his fast becomes void, except when his intention is to convey his newly acquired information.

Letting dust reach one’s throat

  • On the basis of obligatory precaution, allowing thick dust to reach one’s throat makes one’s fast void, whether the dust is of something which is halal to eat, like flour, or of something which is haraam to consume like dust or earth.
  • Allowing thin dust to reach one’s throat will not invalidate the fast.
  • If thick dust is whipped up by the wind and if a person does not take care in spite of taking notice of it, allowing the dust to reach his throat, his fast becomes void on the basis of obligatory precaution.
  • As an obligatory precaution, a person who is observing fasts, should not allow the smoke of cigarettes, tobacco, and other similar things to reach his throat.
  • If a person does not take care to prevent dust, smoke, etc. from entering his throat, and if he was quiet sure that these things would not reach his throat, his fast is in order; but if he only felt that they might not reach his throat, it is better that he should observe that fast again as qadha.
  • If a person forgets that he is fasting and does not exercise care, or if dust or any other similar thing enters his throat involuntarily, his fast does not become void.

Immersing one’s head in water

  • If a fasting person intentionally immerses his entire head in the water, his fast is known to be void, even if the rest of his body remains out of water. But this act does not invalidate the fast; it is a Makrooh act, and as a measure of precaution, should be avoided.
  • If a person immerses half of his head in the water once, and the other half the second time, his fast is not affected.
  • If the entire head is immersed under the water, leaving some hair out, the rule applied will be that mentioned above
  • There is no harm in immersing one’s head in liquids other than water like, in milk. Similarly, fast is not affected by immersing one’s head in mixed water that is, Mudhaaf.
  • If a fasting person falls into the water involuntarily, and his entire head goes into the water, or if he forgets that he is fasting and immerses his head in the water, his fast is not affected.
  • If a person throws himself into the water thinking that his entire head will not go down into the water, and water covers his entire head, his fast remains in order.
  • If a person forgets that he is fasting and immerses his head in the water, and he remembers under the water that he is fasting, it is better that he takes his head out of water at once, but if he does not do so, his fast will not be void.
  • If a person is pushed into water and his head is immersed in water, the fast is not affected at all. But if the fellow who pushed him and forced his head under water releases him, it is better that he raises his head out of water immediately.
  • If a fasting person immerses his head under water with the Niyyat of Ghusl, both his fast and Ghusl will be in order.
  • If a person dives headlong in the water to save some one from drowning, although it may be obligatory to save that person, as a recommended precaution, he should give qadha for that fast.

Remaining in Janabat or Haidh or Nifas till Fajr time

  • If a person in Janabat does not take Ghusl intentionally till the time of Fajr prayers, his/her fast becomes void. And if a person whose obligation is to do tayammum, wilfully does not do it, his/her fast will be also void. This rules apply to the qadha of the fasts of Ramadhan, also.
  • If a person in Janabat does not take Ghusl intentionally till the time of Fajr prayers, for obligatory fasts other than those of the month of Ramadhan and their qadha, those fasts which have fixed days, like those of Ramadhan, his/her fast will be in order.
  • If a person enters the state of Janabat during a night in the month of Ramadhan, and does not take Ghusl intentionally till the time left before Adhan is short, he/she should perform tayammum and observe the fast. However, it is a recommended precaution that its qadha is also given.
  • If a person in Janabat in the month of Ramadhan forgets to take Ghusl and remembers it after one day, he should observe the qadha of the fast of that day. And if he remembers it after a number of days he should observe the qadha of the fasts of all those days, during which he is certain to have been in Janabat. For example, if he is not sure whether he was in Janabat for three days or four, he should observe the qadha of three days.
  • If a person who does not have time for Ghusl or performing tayammum in a night of Ramadhan gets into state of Janabat, his fast will be void and it will be obligatory upon him to give qadha of that fast, as well as Kaffarah.
  • If a person investigates whether or not he has enough time at his disposal, and believing that he has time for Ghusl, goes into state of Janabat and when he learns later that actually the time was short, he performs tayammum, his fast will be in order. And if he presumes without any investigation that he has enough time at his disposal and gets into Janabat and when he learns later that the time was short, keeps the fast with tayammum, he should, as a recommended precaution, observe the qadha of that fast.
  • If a person is in Janabat during a night in Ramadhan and knows that if he goes to sleep he will not wake up till Fajr, he should not sleep before Ghusl and if he sleeps before Ghusl and does not wake up till Fajr, his fast is void, and qadha and Kaffarah become obligatory on him.
  • When a person in Janabat goes to sleep in a night of Ramadhan and then wakes up, the obligatory precaution is that if he is not sure about waking up again, he should not go to sleep before Ghusl, even if he has a faint hope that he might wake up before Fajr if he sleeps again.
  • If a person in Janabat in the night of Ramadhan feels certain that if he goes to sleep he will wake up before the time of Fajr prayers, and is determined to do Ghusl upon waking up, and oversleeps with that determination till the time of Fajr prayers, his fast will be in order. And the same rule applies to a person who, though not absolutely certain, is hopeful about waking up before the time of Fajr prayers.
  • If a person in Janabat in a night of Ramadhan is certain or reasonably hopeful that if he sleeps he will wake up before the time of Fajr prayers but he is not heedful of the fact that after waking up he would do Ghusl , if he oversleeps till the time of Fajr prayers, the qadha of that fast will be obligatory on him as a precaution.
  • If a person in Janabat in a night of Ramadhan is sure or fairly hopeful that if he sleeps he will wake up before the time of Fajr prayers, but he does not intend to do Ghusl then, or is undecided about it , his fast is void.. And if he sleeps and does not wake up the qadha and Kaffarah will be obligatory on him.
  • If a person in Janabat sleeps and wakes up during a night of Ramadhan and is certain or fairly hopeful that if he sleeps again, he will wake up before the time of Fajr prayers, with full determination to do Ghusl after waking up, and oversleeps till the time of Fajr, he should observe the qadha of the fast of that day.
    And if he goes to sleep for the third time and does not wake up till the time of Fajr prayers, it is obligatory on him to observe the qadha as well as give the kaffarah, as a recommended precaution.
  • When a person becomes Mohtalim during sleep, the first, second and third sleep means the sleep after waking up; and the sleep in which he became Mohtalim will not be reckoned to be the first sleep.
  • If a person observing fast becomes Mohtalim during day time, it is not obligatory on him to do Ghusl at once.
  • When a person wakes up in the month of Ramadhan after the Fajr prayers and finds that he has become Mohtalim his fast is in order, even if he knows that he became Mohtalim before the Fajr prayers.
  • When a person who wants to observe the qadha of Ramadhan, remains in Janabat intentionally till the time of Fajr prayers, he cannot fast on that day. And if it was not intentional, he can fast, but as a precaution, it should be avoided.
  • If a person wants to observe the qadha of Ramadhan and wakes up after the time of Fajr prayers finding himself Mohtalim, and knows that he became Mohtalim before the time Fajr prayers, he can fast on that day with the niyyat of qadha.
  • If a person remains in Janabat intentionally till the time of Fajr prayers in an obligatory fast which does not have fixed days, like, the fast of Kaffarah, apparently his fast is in order, but it is better that he should observe fast on some other day.
  • If a woman becomes Pak from Haidth or Nifas before the time of Fajr prayers in the month of Ramadhan or, as a precaution, on a day she wants to give qadha of Ramadhan, and does not do Ghusl – or in the case of time being short, tayammum – intentionally, her fast will be void.
    And if it is not the fast of Ramadhan or its qadha, her fast will be in order, but as a precaution, she should do Ghusl. And if the obligation of a woman is tayammum instead of Ghusl for Haidth or Nifas and she does not do it intentionally, in the month of Ramadhan or for its qadha, before the time of Fajr prayers, her fast is void.
  • If a woman becomes Pak from Haidh or Nifas before the time of Fajr prayers in the month of Ramadhan and she has no time to do Ghusl, she should perform tayammum. But it is not necessary for her to remain awake till the time of Fajr prayers. The same rule applies to a person whose obligation is tayammum after getting into the state of Janabat.
  • If a woman gets Pak from Haidh or Nifas just near the time of Fajr prayers in the month of Ramadhan, and has no time left for Ghusl or tayammum, her fast is valid.
  • If a woman gets Pak from Haidh or Nifas after the Fajr or if Haidh or Nifas begins during the day though just near the Maghrib time, her fast is void.
  • If a woman forgets to do Ghusl for Haidh or Nifas and remembers it after a day or more, the fasts that she has observed will be valid.
  • If a woman gets Pak from Haidh or Nifas before the time of Fajr prayers in the month of Ramadhan but neglects her obligation and does not do Ghusl before Fajr, nor does she resort to tayammum as time becomes short, her fast will be void. But if she is not negligent, like when she waits for her turn in a public bath, then even if she sleeps three times without doing Ghusl till Fajr, her fast will be valid if she does not ignore tayammum.
  • If a woman is in a state of excessive Istihadha, her fast will be valid even if she does not carry out the rules of Ghusls as explained in rule no. 402. Similarly, her fast will be in order if she does not do the Ghusls prescribed for medium Istihadha.
  • A person who has touched a dead body (i.e. has brought any part of his own body in contact with it) can observe fast without having done Ghusl for touching a dead body, and his fast does not become void even if he touches the dead body during the fast.

Enema

  • If liquid enema is taken by a fasting person, his fast becomes void even if he is obliged to take it for the sake of treatment.

Vomiting

  • If a fasting person vomits intentionally his fast becomes void, though he may have been obliged to do so on account of sickness. However, the fast does not become void, if one vomits forgetfully or involuntarily.
  • If a person eats something at night knowing that it will cause vomiting during the day time, the recommended precaution is that he should give the qadha of that fast.
  • If a fasting person can stop vomiting without causing any harm or inconvenience to himself, he should exercise restraint.
  • If a fly enters the throat of a fasting person, it will not be necessary to throw it out if it has gone deep down the gullet, and his fast will be valid. But if it has not descended deep down, it must be coughed out, even by vomiting, if it is not harmful to do so. If one does not do so, fast will be void.
  • If a person swallows something by mistake and remembers before it reaches the stomach that he is fasting, it is not necessary for him to throw it out, and his fast is in order.
  • If a fasting person is certain that if he belches, something will come out from the throat, he should not, as a precaution, belch intentionally, but there is no harm in his belching if he is not certain about it.
  • If a fasting person belches and something comes from his throat or into the mouth, he should throw it out, and if it is swallowed unintentionally, his fast is in order.

Rules regarding things which invalidate a Fast

  • If a person intentionally and voluntarily commits an act which invalidates fast, his fast becomes void, but if he does not commit such an act intentionally, there is no harm in it (i.e. his fast is valid). However, if a person in Janabat sleeps and does not do Ghusl till the time of Fajr prayers, as detailed in rule no. 1639, his fast is void.
    Similarly, if a person due to utter ignorance of the rule that a certain act will invalidate the fast, or due to reliance upon some authority which he thought was genuine, unhesitatingly commits an act which invalidates the fast, his fast will not be void, except in the cases of eating, drinking and sexual intercourse.
  • If a fasting person forgetfully commits an act which invalidates fast and thinking that since his fast has become void, commits intentionally another act which invalidates fast, his fast will be void.
  • If something is dropped forcibly down the throat of a fasting person, his fast does not become void. But, if he is compelled to break his fast by intimidation, like, if he is warned that his life or wealth would be at stake, and he willingly breaks the fast to ward off the danger, his fast will be void.
  • A fasting person should not go to a place where he knows that something will be put down his throat or that he will be compelled to break his fast by his own hands. And if he goes there and he is compelled to commit an act by his own hands which invalidates a fast, his fast will be void. The same will apply, as an obligatory precaution, if something is forcibly put down his throat.

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