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Ramadan Question: What if One Eats or Drinks by Mistake?


By Dr Ali Ahmed Mashael

19th July, 2014

Dr Ali Ahmed Mashael, Grand Mufti, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, Dubai (IACAD), answers readers' questions on fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan

What happens if a person eats or drinks by mistake? Does s/he need to re-fast?

If a person, who is fasting, eats or drinks by mistake then s/he should re-fast this day.

 Even if the fast was kept on a voluntary basis, the person is obliged to re-fast that day.

Can one pay Fidyah (feeding poor people) instead of re-fasting days missed?

A person must re-fast the days which he/she missed, even for a legitimate excuse, such as travel or menstruation.

It is not permissible to feed the poor instead of re-fasting those days, unless the person is very weak due to a chronic disease. In such case one can pay ‘Fidyah’ or feed the poor for each day.

What if a person passes away and does not have the money to give charity as Kafaarah?

A person who dies due to serious illness is forgiven from fasting and his guardians or relatives are forgiven from fasting on behalf of him as well.

If a person recovers from illness, but still cannot re-fast the days missed, then his guardians or relatives can re-fast on his behalf.

In case guardians or relatives cannot re-fast, they should feed the poor for each missed day as Kafaarah. If they do not have enough money, they can approach a charity on behalf of him.

Physical intimacy between husband and wife while fasting?

A simple expression of intimacy – even kissing one's wife - does not invalidate the fast. However, a couple must avoid sexual intercourse during the fast.

Can a woman seek medication to prevent her menstrual cycle so as to keep the fast?

There is nothing wrong in seeking medication as long as it does not result in any harm to the woman's health.

If there is any chance of the medication causing damage or negatively impacting one’s health, she should refrain from such pills.

What if one wakes up thirsty and drinks water during the Fajr prayer Adhan?

The Adhan is a sign of the beginning of fasting period. Therefore, the person cannot drink or eat anything after the Fajr prayer call. 

If a person consumes anything s/he must re-fast after the month of Ramadan.

What if one has finished the fast, but then travels to the country where his family is still fasting?

If the person reaches before the Fajr prayer call he must fast with the people of the country he has travelled to. This is because he is in a country that has not seen the crescent of 'Shawwaal' yet. If he has to, he may be breaking his fast in private, but not in front of the people there.

What to do in case of bleeding gums, or phlegm due to throat dryness?

If a person is suffering from bleeding gums and feels the blood in his/her mouth, then s/he should spit it out. Phlegm/sputum also does not break the fast, as long as they are not swallowed.

Do injections – in case of sickness, blood donors – invalidate the fast?

Injections in specific body areas, like the thighs, do not break the fast. As far as intravenous injections go, there is some disagreement among scholars on the issue. Hence, it is best for a person to re-fast that day.

If a person needs to donate blood, and therefore is injected, it does not make the fast invalid.

Does the use of toothpaste break the fast?

“There is nothing wrong in using the toothpaste from sunset till the Fajr prayer call. During the day of Ramadan, if saliva mixed with the taste of the toothpaste is swallowed, it will break the fast.

"If the person is careful and ensures no saliva goes down the throat, then the fasting is valid.”

If one is on an aircraft what timing should one follow to break the fast?

The person should break the fast when the sun disappears in the sky while he is on the aircraft and shouldn’t break the fast according to the timings on ground-level. The person should wait till the sun disappears while he is on board.

If the 'Adhan' of the Maghreb is at 6.40pm and someone drinks at 6.38pm, just two minutes before the Iftar timing. Does this invalidate the fast?

If the Muslim ate or drank before the 'Adhan' of Maghreb a minute or less, thinking that the Maghreb prayer call has announced, in this case he has to re-fast that day, and there is no sin on him because he did not do it deliberately.

What to do when one is travelling?

Dr Mashael said it is permissible for the person who left the country before dawn (Fajr prayer call) not to fast. Majority of scholars allow not to fast when travelling during the daytime. But if a traveller wants, he can fast.

Can an asthma patient use an inhaler during fasting?

“A patient may use asthma medication prescribed if s/he needs to do so. It breaks the fast because the /pump spray contains water and other chemical elements.

"The person must re-fast this day.

"However, if the disease is chronic, the person can feed another in poverty or donate an equivalent amount.”

What if someone hears the ‘Adhan’ (call to prayer) of Fajr while he was taking his/her Suhoor?

The Muslim who wants to fast should throw out the food in his mouth when he hears the ‘Adhan’. Do not continue eating and drinking. Do not ingest what is in the mouth.

In case food is swallowed, the person should perform a re-fast for that day.

Is it permissible to use a deodorant or light incense (Bakhoor) during fasting?

Deodorant does not break the fast, but a person shouldn’t use perfumes or inhale the smoke of incense (Bakhoor). If inhaled deliberately, it breaks the fast and the person should re-fast that day.

Can one use a medicinal nicotine patch on the body to quit smoking, during the fasting hours?

Nicotine patches and the like are allowed if none of its ingredients go into or through the stomach of the person.

Nothing can be swallowed by the person.

That which is absorbed by the body – like smells in aromatherapy - will not effect on the validity of the fasting.

Therefore, use patches that will not spoil the fast.

A person should control himself and refrain from smoking during the day in Ramadan and at night also - give up the habit.