Ramadan Query: Is fast valid if ghusl (body wash) is delayed?

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

When cleanliness is lost and ghusl (complete body wash) is not performed before the start of the fast, is the fast still valid?

Before prayer and certain religious rituals a Muslim must make sure that the body is in a clean state. Cleanliness of the body is lost after sexual intercourse, orgasmic discharge, completion of the menstrual cycle, giving birth and death by natural causes.

The fast is valid if the person had the intention to fast before Fajr prayer, even if he/she did not perform ghusl, commented the Central Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (AWFAQ).

Children and elderly are excused from keeping the fast during the month of Ramadan. But when it comes to children, introducing the concept of fasting is recommended from a certain age. After some time, parents should enforce the holy practice, which is considered as one of the five pillars of Islam.

So, when should a child ideally start fasting?
 
“Parents can force their children to fast once they reach puberty," commented the Central Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), the official authority to issue fatwas in the UAE.
 
The fast is obligatory from the age of 18, the authority explained.
 
(As told to Majorie Van Leijen)

Does swallowing stomach reflux invalidate fast?

Food, which comes out of the stomach accidentally, does not break or invalidate the fast, unless this is swallowed back. In such a case the person should re-fast this day as the fasting is invalid.

Can you visit dentist without breaking your fast?

Central Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) answers:

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from any form of consumption during fasting hours. Therefore, the swallowing of any substance would break the fast, the religious authorities have said.

Bearing this in mind, is it permissible to go to the dentist?

“It is permissible to get dental treatment during fasting but on the condition that the water is not going up to the throat. And Allah knows best,” commented the Central Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), the official authority to issue fatwas in the UAE.

According to Rania Al-Haridi, a Dubai-based dentist, most of the people avoid visiting dental clinics during their fasting hours out of fear of breaking the fast inadvertently during the treatment.

“Statistics show that the number of patients visiting dental clinics after Iftar is much higher than those visiting during the day,” she said.

However, visiting the dentist during the fasting hours does not necessarily break the fast if precautions are taken, she claims.

“Nowadays, precautions can be taken by highly improved medical suction devices which work on getting rid of any liquids, saliva or blood during the treatment.

Which treatments do break the fast, and which ones do not?

While certain treatments do not influence the fast, others will, so it is important to do some research before allowing the treatment.
Anesthetic needles used during treatment sessions do not break the fast, confirms Awfaq. “Injecion of anesthesia as well as therapeutic does not break the fast because it is injected into a muscle. And Allah knows best,” was the fatwa.

When it comes to tooth extractions, a risk of breaking the fast comes at play. Although “uction plays an important role in the disposal of fluids, complications might arise leading to severe bleeding, explained Rania, recommending this treatment to be postponed till after Iftar.

When asked about cosmetic treatments Rania replied: “Cosmetic treatments such as installing faceted ceramic, tooth whitening, and preventive treatments like cleaning are all preferably postponed till after Iftar because these kind of treatments are totally dependent on water and are not usually very urgent.”

She added that patients should be careful not to swallow any components of dental fillings, since many of them contain aromatic materials and ones with a distinctive taste, like the ‘cloves’.

- As told to Majorie van Leijen

More questions answered
...

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

Can a woman fast in advance for days she is going to miss due to her menstrual cycle?

It is not permissible to fast in advance for days she will miss during Ramadan. All rituals have a fixed timing and a person must abide by this time.
So it is not permissible to perform a ritual before its real time.

How should a person travelling by plane on last day of Ramadan break the fast?
 
The person should take his/her iftar according to the timing of the country in whose airspace the plane is at the time of iftar.
Usually the crew alerts fasters to the time of iftar.

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

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 kafara?

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 kafara. 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 Athan? 

The Athan 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 'Shawal' yet. If he has to, he may be break 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 do 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 'athan' 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 'athan' of Maghreb a minute or less, thinking that the Maghreb prayer call has announced, in this case he has to refast 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 /pumpspray 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.

- As told to Mohammad El Sadafy

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)

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