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Fiqh of Fasting and Pillars of Fasting


Fiqh of Fasting and Pillars of Fasting

Fiqh of Fasting

Pillars of Fasting

First Pillar: Abstention from everything that invalidates the fast from dawn until sunset.

Allah, the Exalted, says: “… and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (the darkness of the night), then complete your fast till the nightfall” (Al-Baqarah: 187). ‘White and black thread’, as used in the above verse, implies lightness of the day and darkness of the night, respectively.

Second Pillar: Making the Intention

This implies that whoever abstains from all forms of eating, drinking, and other acts that invalidate fasting, should do that with the sole aim of worshiping Allah Almighty alone. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Every action shall be judged according to intention, and behind every action by a person is a specific intention” [Agreed upon].

The intention for fasting should be made the night before dawn if it is an obligatory fast. However, this (making intention the night before dawn) is not mandatory if the fasting is supplemental. Thus it is permissible to make an intention for supplemental fasting during the day if one has not previously done anything which nullifies fasting. This is in accordance with the hadith narrated by ‘Aishah, the mother of believers (may Allah be pleased with her): “ The Prophet ﷺ entered one day and said: ‘Is there anything to eat?’ We answered that there was not. Upon that, he (the Prophet) said: ‘Hence, I am fasting” [Muslim].

Recommended Acts during Fasting

1- Eating Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) and delaying it up to as close to dawn as possible

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Eat the pre-dawn meal, for indeed, there are blessings in having the pre-dawn meal” [ Agreed upon]. Any amount of food, even a sip of water, is sufficient as a pre-dawn meal. This is in accordance with the Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ where he said: “The pre-dawn meal is a blessing, so do not forsake it, even if any one of you will drink just a sip of water. Indeed, Allah Almighty and His angels pray for those who have the pre-dawn meal” [Ahmad].

It is recommended to delay the pre-dawn meal. It is reported from Zayd ibn Thabit, (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “We had the pre-dawn meal with the Prophet ﷺ one day and we left (from the sitting) for Salah.” Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “What range of time was between both (your meal and Salah)?” He said: “Up to the span of reading 50 verses (of the Noble Qur’an)” [Agreed upon].

2- Hastening to break the fast

It is recommended for the one who is fasting to hasten the breaking of their fast whenever they are sure the sun has set. The Prophet ﷺ said: “People will not cease to be in blessings whenever they hasten to break their fast” [Abu Dawud]. Likewise, it is recommended to have one’s iftar (meal taken when breaking one’s fast) first with fresh dates, or dry dates in the absence of fresh dates. It is also recommended to eat an odd number of the dates. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet used to break his fast on fresh dates before Aṣ-Ṣalāh (the prayer), but if not fresh dates, then dry dates, otherwise he would drink (hassa)[ Hasā: he drank] sips of water” [Tirmidhi]. If despite all efforts, one finds none of these, and if they intend to break their fast – that will suffice.

3- Supplication when breaking one’s fast

It is established that the Prophet ﷺ would say when breaking his fast: “The thirst has gone, and the veins have been moistened, and the reward is established, by the Grace of Allah Almighty” [Abu Dawud]. The Prophet ﷺ also said: “Indeed for everyone who fasts, at the time of breaking (fast there) is a prayer that will never be rejected” [Ibn Majah].

4- Avoidance of vain talk and obscenity.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “On the day when any of you fasts, you should not utter vain talk (Ar-Rafath)[ Ar-Rafath: indecent talk or obscenities. It is also used for sexual acts] and should not fight nor shout [As-sakhb: to fight or shout over one another]. If anyone abuses or fights him, he should say: I am fasting” [Agreed upon].

The Prophet ﷺ also said: “For those who do not abandon false speech and false acts, Allah has no need for them to abandon their food and drink” [Abu-Dawud].

5- Intensify your worship of Allah Almighty

  • Recite from the Quran
  • Remember Allah Almighty
  • Stand at night for prayer
  • Stand in the Night of Majesty
  • Observe the daily supplementary prayers
  • Giving charity
  • Strive relentlessly on the righteous path
  • Provide meals for others who are fasting to break their fast with
  • Perform the lesser Hajj


Righteous deeds in Ramadan are rewarded in manifolds. Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet ﷺ was the most generous of men and he was more generous in Ramadan. Angel Jibril met with him, which happened to be every night of Ramadan, and revised the Quran with him. Indeed the Prophet ﷺ was more generous when he met with Jibril, more so than a blowing breeze” [Bukhari].

6- Striving to worship, especially in the last ten days of Ramadan

Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “When the last ten days (of Ramadan) would come, the Prophet ﷺ would exert himself and tighten his Izaar [a metaphor that signifies his striving to worship more than usual] (waistcloth). Spend his night in worship and wake his family [to prompt them to worship] (at night)” [Bukhari].

Things which Invalidate the Fast

1- Deliberate eating or drinking in the day during Ramadan                                                                                       

 Whosoever eats or drinks inadvertently, their fast is authentic and acceptable. However, they must stop further consumption whenever they remember. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever eats or drinks forgetfully while fasting should complete their fast, for it is Allah who has fed them and provided for them what they drank” [Muslim].

 Anything that reaches the throat through the mouth or nose, meaning food and drink, invalidates the fast. An example is an intravenous injection of nutrients. However, if it is a curative injection, such as a penicillin or insulin injection, it does not invalidate one’s fast. There are also some other things, such as inhalers or different medical variants for the asthmatics that are needed for special conditions, that do not invalidate one’s fast.                                                                            

The use of eye and ear drops, or their variants do not invalidate one’s fast; this is because no evidence establishes that any of these invalidates fasting. Moreover, the eyes are not the usual path for food and drinks. This is also applicable to ear and nose drops; except that it is essential to be careful with nose drops, due to the restrictions by the Prophet ﷺ concerning excesses when the one who fasts sniffs in water (during ablution), as the nose is a clear path to the stomach.

  If one who fasts takes or consumes a non-edible item or harmful substance such as cigarettes, their fasting is invalidated. This is because it is consumed through the usual path of food intake (the mouth), and also because it is a variant of eating and drinking.

2- Marital relations

Allah Almighty says: “It is permissible for you to go into [Ar-Rafath (have sexual intercourse with)] your wives, in the night of fasting” (Al-Baqarah: 187).

Those who have intercourse while fasting will invalidate their fast. It is thus required to pay back that day (in which their fast was invalidated). Also, they must expiate by setting a slave free. Upon their inability to do so, they are required to do either of the following in the order listed: fast two consecutive months or feed sixty needy people. This is the sequence of expiation (Kaffarah). It is not correct to feed the sixty needy people if one can fast; it is just as wrong to fast if one is capable of freeing a slave.

3- Intentional vomiting

Definition: The throwing up of whatever is in the stomach of food or drink voluntarily through the mouth. If, however, you are overtaken by the need to vomit, and you throw up involuntarily, then your fasting is still valid. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever vomits involuntarily does not have to make up for the fast, but whoever vomits deliberately, let them make up for the fast.”

4- Discharge of blood of hayd (menstruation) and nefas (post-natal bleeding)

When a woman sees the blood of hayd or nefas – even at the last moment before sunset – she must break her fast and make up for the day.

Source: Illustrated Jurisprudence of Acts of Worship by Dr. Abdullah Bahmmam