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Invalidators of Fasting

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Invalidators of fasting or Mufṭirāt al-ṣawm (Arabic: مفطرات الصوم) or Mubṭilāt al-ṣawm (Arabic: مبطلات الصوم) are acts that invalidate fasting. The most important invalidators are: eating, drinking, or having sexual intercourse. Majority of Shi'a faqihs believe that restraining from most of invalidators is wajib; however, avoiding some of them, such as traveling, is not wajib. Some of invalidators only invalidate fasting when are done intentionally, some invalidate fasting regardless to the intention, though.

Definition

In Islamic jurisprudential texts, invalidators of fasting or Muftirat are acts that voids a fasting. Restraining from some of these acts is necessary for fasting, and committing them while fasting is haram. Most faqihs have counted 9 acts that one must restrain form during fasting.

Invalidators that one is not allowed to commit

  • Eating or Drinking
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Masturbation (Istimna')
  • Attributing lie to God, Prophet Muhammad (s) or the Imams (a)
  • Letting thick dust (or smoke) reach the throat
  • Immersion of head in water
  • Remaining in the state of janaba, hayd (menstruation) or nifas (postnatal bleeding)up to adhan al-fajr (calling for morning prayer); who becomes junub or becomes ritually pure (tahir), from hayd and nifas, must perform ghusl by adhan al-fajr; otherwise his/her fasting of that day is invalid
  • Enema with liquid
  • Vomiting intentionally
  • Intending to stop the fasting or intending to do one of invalidators.

The above-mentioned acts will invalidate Fasting if done intentionally; however, if one does them unintentionally or is forced to do them, the fasting is not void.

Invalidators that one is allowed to do

Traveling before call of noon prayer and seeing the blood of hayd and nifas are form invalidators, but restraining form them is not wajib, i.e. by traveling or doing something to become Ha'id, one has not committed a sin.

Eating or Drinking

According to Shi'a faqihs, only intentional eating or drinking invalidates fasting; thus, the fasting of who has forgotten and eats something is valid. This fatwa includes eating or drinking—food or otherwise—and also there is no difference between little or big amount of food or drink in this verdict. Eating or drinking, that invalidate fasting, must be by swallowing through the throat; therefore, some faqihs said that having an injection or serum does not void fasting.

Excessive Thirst

According to majority of Shi'a faqihs, if one who is fasting has excessive unbearable thirst, he/she can drink water only as much as necessary. However, there are two fatwas about the duty of one who has done so:

  1. Although drinking water is permitted, the fasting of that day is void and one must restrain from all invalidators until sunset and also one must make that fasting up later.
  2. Although one has drunk water, the fasting of that day is valid and one does not have to make it up.

Sexual Activities

Intercourse

Sexual intercourse, even without ejaculation, is one of invalidators that invalidates fasting. There is no difference between vaginal and anal or male and female in this regard. On the other hand, some faqihs maintain that what invalidates fasting is not intercourse rather janaba. Moreover, if one forgets and has intercourse or is forced to have such relation—in a way that he/she had no power to stop that force—the fasting is not void.

Masturbation

Istimna' or Masturbation is one of invalidators. However, if one does not intend to ejaculate, but his behavior leads to ejaculation, his fasting is valid. On the other hand, if one plays with oneself by the intention of ejaculation and this behavior leads to ejaculation, the fasting is void. Playing with oneself without having the intention of ejaculation is not one of invalidators, though.

Ihtilam

Ihtilam or seminal discharge while sleeping is not one of invalidators. However, if it occurs before adhan al-fajr, one must perform ghusl al-janaba by then. Ihtilam during the day does not harm fasting.

Thick Dust and Smoking

According to many faqihs' fatwa, letting thick dust reach the throat invalidates fasting. Based on this, some Shi'a faqihs said that smoking cigarette, hookah, etc. is one of invalidators. Some marja's do not have a direct fatwa about smoking, rather they believe according to compulsory precaution smoking is haram while fasting.

Lying, Backbiting, and Moral Sins

Sins such as lying or backbiting are not mentioned among invalidators. According to the fatwas, the only moral sin that invalidates fasting is ascribing lie to God, Prophet Muhammad (s) or the Imams (a)—some have even added Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a) and other prophets and their successors. Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' believed that ascribing lie to God, the Prophet (s) or the Imams (s) does not invalidate fasting, rather it is one of the grave sins, the prohibition of which increases during the month of Ramadan.

Swimming, Bathing, and Performing Ghusl

One of invalidators is immersing the head completely in water. However, if a part of head is out of water the fasting is valid. Based on this fatwa, ghusl al-Irtimasi is not valid while fasting during the month of Ramadan and it also invalidates fasting. Taking shower is not harmful to fasting, though. A group of faqihs said, although Irtimas is haram while fasting; but it does not invalidate fasting.

References