Makhzan ul-Masaa'il - Q&A
Section 6 - Saum (Fasting in the month of Ramazaan)


Q 1: What are the conditions for the validation or completion of Roza (Fast)?

A 1: 1) Intention (niyyat) of Fast by words with belief and conviction (from heart).
       2) Staying away from eating and drinking.
       3) Avoiding sexual intercourse.
       4) Preventing any part of body from indulging in the things which are forbidden in the Shari’at.

Fast of the one who follows these basic rules is said to be complete or valid otherwise it is considered as void or annulled. Apart from this, fasts of the one, who does not believe in the aqeedah of Imaam uz-Zamaan (as); who is disobedient and defiant to the Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus); who is insubordinate to his parents and the servant who betrays his employer and deserts him and a wife who is wayward to her husband, are rejected by Allaah.


Q 2: Whom is the fast meant for and why?

A 2: Fasting in the month of Ramazaan is for Allaah and He Himself will give reward for it. Faces of 70 evils or shaitaan are crushed when a mumin observes fast. Everything has its Zakaat (purification of heart and wealth by the faith in Imaam uz-Zamaan (as)) and the Zakaat of the body is to fast for 30 days in the month of Ramazaan.


Q 3: Where in the Qur’an has the order for fasting been mentioned and is there any exemption in it?

A 3: Allaah Ta’aala says in Surat ul-Baqarah that, ‘Fasting has been mandated on all Muslim men and women by Allaah as it was commanded on the previous communities. Allaah has decreed the number of days of obligatory fasting – 30 days of the month of Ramazaan. If anyone does not observe fast for one day of Ramazaan deliberately, then in lieu of that it is mandatory on him to provide food to 60 beggars or do fasting for 60 days. Only travellers and sick are exempted from obligatory fasting. They are supposed to do the fasting in other months in return of the number of days they failed to fast in the month of Ramazaan due to their travel or sickness.


Q 4: What is the time of Iftaar (end, break) of the Fast?

A 4: Proper time to end the fast is when the sun sets in the west. Mumineen should break their fast after reciting the du’a of “Allaahumma laka sumna...” after offering the Farz of Maghrib. To break the fast prior to its time either before the Farz of Maghrib or after saying the Azaan is disagreeable. Maulaana Ali (as) has said, ‘To break the fast early and to be late for the Sahur or Sehri is the Sunnat of Rasoolullaah (saws). It is also Sunnat of Rasoolullaah (saws) is to offer the Maghrib prayer before breaking the fast.’


Q 5: When does the time of Sehri end?

A 5: Fajr is divided into two parts: the first dawn is called as “Zanb us-Sarhaan” (tail of the wolf). It is a small slender light that rises up straight from the eastern horizon without spreading. It is permitted to eat and drink till this time. The second dawn is when the light spreads to the left and right on the horizon which is a ‘true dawn’ or ‘as-Subh us-Saadiq’. This is the time when one should stop eating or drinking. In other words, 90 minutes before sunrise or the last time of Shafaa when one can eat and drink.


Q 6: How is the count of 30 days of Ramazaan completed from its beginning to its end i.e. Eid ul-Fitr?

A 6: It is the Imaam who takes the responsibility of all these matters regarding the beginning or end of Ramazaan. Imaam declares publicly to his people about it. He keeps an eye on the matter and he is occupied with it as he looks into and takes care of all the affairs of Deen and Shari’at as he is the representative of Allaah (Hujjatullaah) on this earth. We follow the practice and farmaan of A’immat-e-Taahereen (as) who is Ahl ul-Bayt (as) – the supreme authority in the Deen of Allaah. We are blessed that we have Hijri calendar which was instituted by Imaam Mo’iz (as) in the Misr and since then we follow it for the calculations of the days. We have no concern about the practice of the people of commonalty and their variations in the calculations of the days. Our A’immat-e-Taahereen (as) are ‘Haqeeqi Qamar’ (real moon) for us, hence we follow their practice rather than being dependent upon the practice of finding the path of ‘Majaazi Qamar’ (subordinate moon) in the sky every month.


Q 7: What is the obligation for a man who deliberately breaks his fast in the month of Ramazaan?

A 7: He who deliberately breaks the fast in the month of Ramazaan by eating or drinking something should liberate a slave if he able to do so; or he should fast for 60 days consecutively; or he should provide food to 60 needy people (beggars). If he is not able to do any of the single thing mentioned above, then he should seek forgiveness of Allaah and whenever he is capable to give Kaffaarat uz-Zunoob (dues in expiation) to the Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus). he should do that or fast in other months in lieu of the fast he has missed.


Q 8: What is the obligation for a man who indulges in the sexual intercourse with his wife and ejaculates in the act?

A 8: It is not recommended for men to indulge in such an act while fasting and they should behave cautiously with their wives. A man who has had sexual intercourse with his wife and he has ejaculated in the act, has indeed nullified his fast. He should fast in other months in lieu of the fast he has missed and pay the kaffaarah to Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus).


Q 9: What is the state of fast of a man who indulges in the sexual act with his wife without her knowledge?

A 9: If a man performs sexual act with his wife during the day in the month of Ramazaan, while his wife being asleep or not conscious of it or not being in the state of sound mind or do forcibly against her wish; then he should give kaffaarah and fast in the lieu of fast he has missed. There is no obligation for his wife.


Q 10: How much amount of food or grains is to be given to a destitute as a kaffaarah (dues in expiation) in the lieu of missed fast?

A 10: Amount of food or expense that is equal to the Zakaat ul-Maal (Fitra) of a single person is to be given to a destitute. As a substitute to food, 3kg of wheat can also be given as kaffaarah and if one is not able to afford to give 3 kg, then minimum 1.5 kg of wheat can be given.


Q 11: What should be done if a man indulges in the sexual act with his wife at night and both of them falls asleep and neither does the ghusl (ritual bath) nor wakes up till morning?

A 11: If a man engages in sexual contact with his wife at night in the month of Ramazaan, they should purify themselves by doing ghusl before the break of dawn. But if they intentionally sleep till the break of dawn without performing ghusl, they should do it after waking up and seek Allaah’s forgiveness and they may complete their fast but it is mandatory upon them to fast in other months in the lieu of their missed fast. If both of them slept unintentionally and involuntarily without their knowledge until morning then they should perform ghusl after waking and fast for that day; and their fast is complete.


Q 12: What should be done if one forgetfully eats or drinks something in the state of fasting or unintentionally gets close to his wife?

A 12: Maulaana Ali (as) has said that, ‘People will be forgiven for what they have eaten or drunk forgetfully during the month of Ramazaan.’ The same is true for the one who has unintentionally got close to his wife. Fast should be completed in both the instances and no kaffaarah is due upon him.


Q 13: What should be done if one witnesses emission of semen while fasting?

A 13: Emission of semen while fasting makes it void. He has to keep a fast in lieu of the missed one and give kaffaarah as mentioned above.


Q 14: What should be done if there is vomiting while fasting?

A 14: Inducing vomiting intentionally while fasting nullifies it and one has to fast for a day in its place. If there is unintentional involuntary vomiting due to some underlying cause, then the fast is complete.


Q 15: If a man eats or drinks or has sexual intercourse during the month of Ramazaan after the break of dawn, not knowing that the dawn has arrived, then what should he do?

A 15: There are two alternatives in this situation. If he looks at the horizon for the break of dawn before eating or drinking or having sexual intercourse and does not in fact see it, but sees it only after he has eaten or drunk or copulated, he should proceed with the fast and there is no obligation for him. But if he eats or drinks or has sexual contact without looking at the horizon, and then comes to know that he has in fact eaten or drunk or indulged in sex after the break of the day, he should complete the fast but it is incumbent upon him to fast for another day in the lieu of that day.

In a similar situation where two people have difference in their opinion and one says that, ‘this is the break of dawn’, and the other contends that, ‘I can see nothing’, then in such a case it means that both of them have knowledge and understanding about the break of dawn and possess the keenness of sight. The man who is sure about the break of dawn should refrain from eating and drinking and proceed with the fast while the other to whom the break of dawn is not seen may continue to eat or drink till the break of dawn is evident to him. But in case where one of them is more learned or is keener in sight than the other, it is incumbent upon him, who is inferior in knowledge and sight, to follow the learned one.


Q 16: What are the rules for eye-lotion, eye-wash or collyrium (kaajal or surma) and cleaning the teeth while fasting?

A 16: Use of all above articles is permitted while fasting unless the taste of anyone of them is felt in the throat, when the fast becomes imperfect. The same rule applies while brushing teeth or cleaning mouth. Tooth paste or tooth powder can be used for that purpose while fasting but its taste should not be felt in the throat. There is no harm in using dry tooth stick.


Q 17: Is tasting of any food or drink allowed while fasting? Can a mother chew something while fasting before giving it to her infant?

A 17: It is permissible to chew resin, taste vinegar or milk or soup of meat or sherbet or chew food for an infant; there is no harm in all of them provided that nothing reaches the throat. Precaution should be taken while doing all these things that it should not go down the throat. There is no harm in gargling with water; it is only when something passes his throat that nullifies the fast.


Q 18: Is bloodletting (cupping) allowed while fasting? Is there any harm in taking injections while fasting? Can diabetics take insulin while fasting?

A 18: Bloodletting (cupping) is disapproved while fasting if it leads to unconsciousness or skin infection or vomiting. If no such consequences are apprehended, there is not harm in doing that. Injections which increases the vigour or strength, either physically or mentally; or which reduces the intensity of fasting, should be avoided while fasting. Such are multi-vitamin injections and other fluids. If it is mandatory to take insulin injections for sake of controlling blood sugar and it is advised by the doctor then there is no harm in taking it. Proper timings of medications or injections should be adjusted for a person who is suffering from a chronic illness who intends to fast in the month of Ramazaan.


Q 19: Is it permitted to smell fragrances or dive into water while fasting?

A 19: Smelling and application of perfumes (body sprays, deodorants, itr) or aromatic herbs or using strong smelling soaps, shampoos, body lotions, balms and any other external application is disapproved while fasting because it inevitably has its effect on the throat. Smelling flowers or applying ‘itr on the Quboor is also disapproved. Diving into water or swimming should not be done while fasting for the fear that water may reach down the throat. Such things should be avoided to respect the fast and to keep it flawless. The reward of fasting is due to pains of hunger, thirst, belief and conviction from the heart, abstinence from all worldly pleasures.


Q 20: Is it permissible to take enema while fasting? Is it appropriate to put oil in the ears? What should be done if an insect accidentally goes down the throat?

A 20: Taking enema while fasting is not allowed. There is no harm in putting oil in the ears while fasting as long as it does not reach the throat. If an insect is accidentally swallowed while fasting then there is no harm in it and the fast is complete.


Q 21: What should be done if water is swallowed while rinsing the mouth in the wuzoo during fasting?

A 21: If the water is accidentally swallowed while doing wuzoo for the namaaz of any farz (mandatory prayers), then there is no harm; but if such thing happens while doing wuzoo for some other prayers then it nullifies the fast; and a fast has to be kept in place of missed fast


Q 22: Is the fast regarded as valid if one forgets to recite its Niyyat before beginning the fast?

A 22: If one begins his fast with pure intention from his heart and forgets to recite the Niyyat verbally then his fast is complete.


Q 23: Is it mandatory to fast while travelling in the month of Ramazaan?

A 23: Allaah has not mandated for a traveller to fast during the month of Ramazaan. A man who fasts during his travels in Ramazaan has fasted at a time when he was not obliged to do so. Thus it is obligatory for him to fast on an equal number of other days as laid down by the Shari’at. The shortest distance that legitimizes the avoidance of fasting is 2 Bareeds (about 38.6 kms or 24 miles). However, if a man travels the distance of one Bareed, so that going and returning would be 2 Bareeds, he should give up fasting. Maulaana Ali (as) has said that, ‘It is compulsory upon him who travels in the month of Ramazaan, to repeat his fasts for an equal number of missed fasts in other days, when he arrives at his home place.’


Q 24: What should be done if one commences and ends his travel in a single day in the month of Ramazaan?

A 24: If a man commences his travel before noon (Zawaal) in Ramazaan, he has to fast in lieu of that day; but if he starts his journey in the afternoon, he has to complete his fast, and he need not fast in another day. Similarly if a man begins his journey early in the morning after beginning the fast and returns his home before noon then his fast is complete; and if he returns to his place in the afternoon then he has to fast in lieu of that day.


Q 25: What is the duration of stay during travels in the month of Ramazaan after which one should fast?

A 25: The duration of halt or stay during travels is ten days. If a man halts in his travels at a place with the intention of staying there for ten days during Ramazaan, he should fast. But if he has no such intention and makes a brief stay for a day or two then he should not fast in those days. He should repeat the fasts for his days of travel in other months.


Q 26: What should be done if one halts at his relative’s place while travelling in the month of Ramazaan?

A 26: If one begins his journey with the intention of fast and reaches his relative’s (relatives who are mehram for him i.e. to whom he cannot marry) place before noon (zawaal) and intends to stay there for five obligatory namaaz then he should fast.


Q 27: What should be done if one has to travel daily for his business for more than 2 Bareeds?

A 27: If travelling for longer distances is a routine thing (from the main city to the suburbs) for business then there is no exemption for him. He is not deemed as a ‘traveller’. He should fast normally as it is mandated.


Q 28: Can one keep fasts in other months while travelling for the days he had missed in the month of Ramazaan?

A 28: There is no harm in fasting while travelling in other months for the fasts missed in the month of Ramazaan. Similarly one who is travelling right from the beginning of the month of Ramazaan can keep fasts in the lieu of his missed fasts of the previous Ramazaan.


Q 29: Can one keep fasts which are non-obligatory (fasts other than that of Ramazaan) – like fast of Nazr (to vow or solemnize) and Minnat (to invoke blessings) while travelling in the month of Ramazaan?

A 29: There is no harm in keeping non-obligatory fasts while travelling in the month of Ramazaan.


Q 30: Is it mandatory for a sick to fast in the month of Ramazaan?

A 30: It is not compulsory for the sick person to fast during the month of Ramazaan; but it is obligatory for him to fast on the same number of other days when he recovers and is able to fast. The extent of illness which makes it necessary for a person to break his fast is, when he fears that although he is capable of fasting, it may increase his illness and he fears its grave consequences.


Q 31: What should one do if he is suffering from a long standing or incurable illness?

A 31: If the illness is long standing and incurable, improving sometimes and declining sometimes, and continues till the end of Ramazaan, he should feed one needy or destitute person with food for everyday of the month that he was unable to fast. If he is not in a position to do so then he should give kaffaarah to Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus). If the illness gets prolonged till the arrival of the next Ramazaan and he was unable to repeat the missed fasts of previous Ramazaan, then he should feed the needy for those number of days of previous year or give kaffaarah to Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus).


Q 32: What should a pregnant or nursing woman do in the month of Ramazaan?

A 32: Pregnant and nursing women, both, are exempted from fasting in the month of Ramazaan for the fear of the health of unborn child or small infant. Both of them should refrain from fasting but they should fast on other days as prescribed, when they are able to do so.


Q 33: What should one do if he is compelled to take some medication while fasting?

A 33: If one suffers from an acute illness such as, acute unbearable pain anywhere in the body or any serious health problem and he needs to take some medications orally, then he should break his fast. In this instance, he should keep a fast on other day in lieu of missed fast.


Q 34: What should a woman do if she gets menstrual bleeding in the month of Ramazaan?

A 34: She should avoid fasting and offering namaaz for that period. However, it is incumbent upon her to keep the fasts in lieu of missed fasts in other days. If she is unable to repeat her missed fasts in other days then she should give kaffaarah (dues in expiation which is equal to the expense of feeding a needy or destitute) to Da’i uz-Zamaan (tus).


Q 35: What should be done if there is bleeding from mouth while fasting?

A 35: One should prevent the blood from swallowing while fasting. However, if the blood is swallowed then his fast is considered to be broken and he should fast in lieu of it in other days.

Q 36: What should be done if someone dies in the month of Ramazaan without fulfilling the obligation of fast?

A 36: When a man falls ill in the month of Ramazaan and does not recover before dying, it means that death intervened between him and the fulfilment of his duty to fast in lieu of the days missed and thus, nothing is due for him. If, however, a man falls ill during Ramazaan and recovers, but is unable to fast in expiation until he dies, it is proper and highly desirable for his ‘Wali’ (close relative or legal guardian) to fast in expiation for the deceased. The nearest kin among his male legal heirs may observe the fast in atonement for him. A woman is not entitled to fast in atonement for a man. In exceptional cases where there is no Wali of the deceased, a needy or destitute should be fed from the wealth of the deceased for the equal number of his missed fasts of Ramazaan. If the deceased has not left enough wealth to feed the needy then Allaah will forgive and pardon him.


Q 37: Can one keep fast  of the month of Rajab or 18th Zulhajjah or of his Jadeed Misaaq (new covenant) even if he has not fasted in atonement of the missed days of the previous Ramazaan?

A 37: He cannot keep fast unless he has completed the obligatory fasts of the previous Ramazaan.


Q 38: Can anyone keep fasts in atonement of the missed days of Ramazaan, in the month of Zulhajjah?

A 38: Maulaana Ali (as) did not approve that, fasts in atonement for the days lost during Ramazaan should be observed during Zulhajjah (especially before 18th of that month) and said, ‘It is a month of devotion and sacrifice after the pilgrimage. If one observes fast during these days then he has to repeat it afresh.'


Q 39: What should be done if anyone dies a sudden death while fasting in the month of Ramazaan?

A 39: If someone dies of sudden death either due to accident or an overwhelming acute illness while fasting in the month of Ramazaan, then it is highly desirable for his nearest male heirs or guardian to keep fasts in atonement for him in other days. In exceptional cases where there is no Wali of the deceased, a needy or destitute should be fed from the wealth of the deceased for the equal number of his missed fasts of Ramazaan. If the deceased has not left enough wealth to feed the needy then Allaah will forgive and pardon him.


Q 40: What should be done if one is not able to tolerate thirst while fasting?

A 40: If it is difficult for him to tolerate thirst while fasting and fears that he will fall sick, then he should break the fast. It is compulsory to fast in atonement of the fasts he has missed.

Q 41: Apart from the Shari'at obligations what are the physiological changes in the human body which have long term benefits due to fasting?

A 41:

  1. Fasting initiates rapid weight loss with little or no hunger. Most people are surprised at how little desire for food they have while fasting.
  2. Fasting promotes detoxification. As the body breaks down its fat reserves, it mobilizes and eliminates stored toxins.
  3. Fasting gives the digestive system a much-needed rest. After fasting, both digestion and elimination are invigorated.
  4. Fasting promotes the resolution of inflammatory processes, such as in rheumatoid arthritis. 
  5. Fasting quiets allergic reactions, including asthma and hay fever.
  6. Fasting promotes the drying up of abnormal fluid accumulations, such as edema in the ankles and legs and swelling in the abdomen.
  7. Fasting corrects high blood pressure without drugs. Fasting will normalize blood pressure in the vast majority of cases, the blood pressure will remain low after the fast, if the person follows a health-supporting diet and lifestyle.
  8. Fasting makes it easy to overcome bad habits and addictions. Many people have overcome tobacco and alcohol addictions by fasting, and even drug addictions. Fasting rapidly dissipates the craving for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs.
  9. Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes. It is common to see skin eruptions clear while fasting, and the whites of the eyes never look so clear and bright as they do after fasting.
  10. Fasting restores taste appreciation for wholesome natural foods. People say that their taste buds come alive after fasting and that food never tasted so good.
  11. Fasting is the perfect gateway to a healthful diet and lifestyle. Going on a fast gives you the motivation and enthusiasm to make a fresh start.
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