Definitive Guide to What Invalidates a Fast in Islam and the Consequences

A look into what invalidates a fast in Islam and the consequences.

The shari’ definition of a fast is: to withhold from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse during daylight hours, (beginning of fajr to maghrib) with an intention of fasting, performed by one capable and required to do so.1

This article will specifically look at the eating, drinking and marital relations element, in that which actions are included and what invalidates the fast. We will also mention the ruling whether expiation will be due and those matter that are disliked or Mubah.

What invalidates a fast in terms of eating and drinking

Generally, what invalidates a fast is something2 that enters the body from various entry points. The item must reach the throat, the stomach or the intestines.3 If this item was entered into the thigh or finger, then it would not invalidate the fast.

The entry points to either the throat, stomach or intestines may be 1. the mouth, 2. the nose, 3. the ears, 4. the eyes, 5. the anus, 6. the vagina, 7. the urinal passage, 8. the head (where there is a deep injury), the abdomen (where there is a deep injury), pores in the body. However from these entry points, only some reach the throat, stomach or intestines.

If directly or indirectly then will invalidate because it reached it.

  1. Mouth – The mouth is directly linked to the throat
  2. Nose – The nose is directly linked to the throat
  3. Ears – The ear is not linked to the digestive system4
  4. Eyes – The eye is indirectly linked to the throat via the nose5
  5. Anus – The anus is directly connected to the intestines
  6. Vagina – The vagina is not directly connected to the intestines6
  7. Urinal Passage – The urinal passage is not connected to the intestines
  8. An injury to the body – If one suffers a head injury in which the skull is fractured then any substances which passes will enter the throat or if one suffers an abdominal injury in which it is fractured then any substances which passes will enter the stomach or intestines, otherwise, if such injuries are not that deep, then they will not7
  9. Pores of the body – The pores of the body are not connected to the digestive system

We can conclude the entry points to the digestive system are the mouth, the nose or the anus and possibly the ear and a deep injury. If food or an item enters any of the others, then it will not invalidate the fast, whether it is nutritional or not.

As a summary the fast is only invalidated if a substance enters an entry point that is connected with the digestive system independently and where no exception exists.

The exceptions

There are a number of exceptions to what invalidates a fast:

  • Forgetfulness

If one forgot they were fasting and did something that would invalidate it, e.g. ate or had intercourse then it will not invalidate the fast.

  • Food remaining in the teeth

If after closing the fast, food remains stuck in the teeth, then if it is less than the size of chickpea and one swallowed it accidentally then it will not invalidate the fast. If it was equal to or bigger, then it will invalidate the fast if one swallows it.

  • A small substance enters the mouth

This would be a substance the size of a sesame-seed.8 If it was chewed or swallowed but no taste could be found in the throat then it would not invalidate the fast to swallow it. If there was a taste, then it would invalidate it.

  • Unavoidable substances

This applies to things that one is not able to guard oneself against and if one were to do so then it would entail hardship. For example, saliva, mucus, dust in the air or water that remains in the mouth and nose from wudu.9 An unavoidable substance will invalidate the fast if deliberately swallowed or inhaled.

Clarification of non-exceptions

The following would not be classed as exceptions:

  • Accidents

Such that if one by accident, while remembering that one was fasting, ended up doing something that would invalidate the fast then it would be considered invalidated. So if one mistakenly swallowed water while making wudu then that would invalidate the fast.

  • Necessity

Doing something out of necessity will invalidate the fast for example, if one is feeling dizzy and drinks water, or takes medicine or uses an asthma pump.

  • Unawareness

Being unaware that something will invalidate the fast is not an exception, even if one would not have done it if one had known that it would invalidate the fast. So if someone did not know that taking medicine will invalidate the fast and therefore took a pill for a headache then that will invalidate the fast.

  • Sleeping or unconscious or insane

Such that if one does something while sleeping that would invalidate the fast then it would be considered invalidated. The same applies if something invalidating was done to someone sleeping or the unconscious or insane.

  • Being forced

Being forced is akin to an accident. The action is still attributed to the person who is forced even if he did not perform it wilfully.

What invalidates a fast in terms of sexual intercourse

Sexual intercourse may take place in either of the two holes (Vagina or Anus10) but also extends to ejaculation with assistance or, relating to the eating and drinking category, exchange of saliva. If any of the invalidators are met, then expiation will be due.


  • Intercourse
  • Orgasm and ejaculation with physical assistance
  • Passionate kissing with exchange of saliva

Non invalidators

  • If an orgasm and /or ejaculation is achieved without physical assistance e.g. wet dream of by looking/thinking
  • Thinking about sex
  • Looking at spouse with sexual desire
  • Talking about sex
  • Non-passionate kissing
  • Kissing the body
  • Touching passionately
  • Feeling aroused

However the above are makhruh if there is fear they will lead to an invalidator.


Depending on the activity and/or intention one may have to pay the Kafaara for invalidating the fast. There is no expiation for violating a fast outside of the fast of Ramadan.

The expiation is to free a slave; if he does not have one, he must fast two consecutive months; if he is genuinely unable, then he must feed sixty poor people half of Sa’ of wheat, which is about 2.2 kg. Or he may give its equivalent monetary value to each person.

Expiation only applies to Ramadhan fasts. Expiation is mandatory only if one had made the intention to fast before Fajr.

Generally, when an expiation is required can be summarised as if one eats or drinks something of nutritional value on purpose or something for medicinal purposes; or if one has sexual intercourse on purpose, then he must make up the fast as well as perform expiation. 

A List of activities and their associated rulings relating to the mouth, nose and body

ActivityInvalidator?CommentExpiation required?
Eating food on purposeYes Yes
Drinking something on purposeYes Yes
Nibbling on foodYes Yes
AcupunctureNo     No
Asthma Pump/Inhaler
YesDue to it being pumped down the throat. If in emergency then no Kafaara due.Yes
Contact LensesNo No
Eye dropsNo No
EndoscopyYesDue to having to spray down the throatNo
DeodorantNo No 
LotionNo No 
Smelling incenseNoUnless inhaling the smoke deliberatelyNo  
Lip BalmNoEnsure none is swallowedNo  
Lip stickNoEnsure none is swallowedNo  
Intravenous dripNo No  
InjectionsNo No  
Blood extractNo No  
Blood transfusion/infusionNo No  
Make upNo No  
MouthwashNoUnless it is swallowed. Disliked due to potential of swallowing.No  
Nose decongestantNoIf breathed in it will invalidate the fastNo  
Cigarette PatchesNoThis would include other patchesNo  
Pills or tabletsYes Yes
SmokingYes Yes  
Smelling perfumeNo No
Smelling foodNoUnless inhaling the smoke deliberately No
Tooth pasteNoUnless it is swallowed. Must be careful it doesn’t go down the throat. No
SonogramNo No
Hijama/CuppingNoDisliked if it weakens a personNo
Miswak/ToothbrushNoUnless any flavour is swallowedNo
Generally rinsing the mouth or the noseNo No
Placing a wet garment on one’s body or taking a bath due to heat.No No
Applying oilNo No
KohlNoeven if can find taste in throatNo
Smoke or dustNo No
Swallowing mucus or phlegmNo Better not to swallowNo
Eating clayNoIf done so out of habit, otherwise it will invalidateNo
Chewing on paperNoUnless it is swallowed, but makruhNo
Chewing on a Pen topNoUnless it is swallowed, but makruhNo
Biting NailsNoUnless it is swallowed, but makruhNo
Eating StonesYes No
Eating MudYes No
Raw flourNo No
Raw riceNo No
Breaks fast under coercionYes No
Break due to fear of illnessYes No
Someone puts food in his mouthYes No
EnemaYes Yes
Applying medicine to urethraNo No
Chewing plain gum  NoMakhruhNo
Chewing flavoured gum  Yes Yes
Smoking  YesOnly if deliberateYes
VapingYesOnly if deliberateYes
Accidentally swallowing water while rinsing the mouth orYes No
inhaling water too far up the noseYes No
Someone pouring water over a sleeping person and water enters the mouthYes No
Self-induced vomiting a mouthful or moreYes Yes
Self-induced vomiting less than a mouthfulNo No
If one vomits a mouthful naturally and re-swallows it. Yes Yes
If one vomits a mouthful or lessNo No
Accidental eatingYes No
Forgetful eating eats something out of forgetfulnessNoOne must stop the act immediately upon remembering that he is fasting. If he fails to do so and continues eating or drinking, the fast will be invalidated.No
Eating something not knowing it will invalidateYes No
Sudden severe sicknessYes No
Menses startsYes No
Post-natal bleeding startedYes No
Unintentional ingesting rain or snowNo No
Unintentional swallowing tears or sweatNo No
Intentional ingesting rain or snowYes Yes
Intentional swallowing tears or sweatYesOr the case where lots of sweat and tears are swallowedYes
Bleeding in the mouth with blood being the majority in the saliva and one swallows it    Yes Yes
Bleeding in the mouth with blood NOT being the majority in the saliva  No No
Gathering saliva in the mouth and swallowing itNoDislikedNo
Tasting food by a wife  NoOnly allowed if her husband is strict and done to keep the peace. Must not be swallowed.No
Chewing food or making it malleable for a childNoOnly if required. Must not be swallowed.No
Eats pips or seedsYes Yes
BackbitingNoLoss of the reward of fastingNo
Intending to breakNo No
Unintentional taste like entering a factory or remains of taste of medicine that one had before FajrNo No
Using an ear budNo No
Eating raw meat or jerked meatYes Yes
SmokingYes No
Fasting resident who breaks fast due to travelingYes No
Nasal sprayYes No
Cigarette patchesNo No
Cigarette gumNo Yes if swallowed substance or saliva with flavouringsNo
Multi vitaminsYes Yes
NebuliserYes No Kafaara due if done out of necessityYes
Oxgen itself  – notNo No
BonjelaNoUnless it is swallowedNo
Vapour rub in the noseYes No
Vapour rub on the chestNo No
Inhaling Vapour rubYes Yes
Nasal creamNoas long as doesn’t go downNo
Having GavisconYes Yes 
Diabetes insulin injection in the stomachNoDOUBLE CHECK
Stomach injectionNo DOUBLE CHECK 
Metal instrument down the throat attached to a person on one end      NoBut if the end of the object has some medication, then it will break itNo
Metal instrument down the throat freely  YesBut if the end of the object has some medication, then it will break itNo
Using saunaNoUnless steam swallowedNo
Using steam roomNoUnless steam swallowedNo
Laser eye treatmentNo No
Inhaling steamYes Yes
Inhaling Humidified CPAPYes Yes
Accidental swallowing of water whilst doing wuduYes No
Clove oil on teeth or gumsNoas long as the medicine or the taste of the clove oil does not reach the throatNo
Perineum PhysiotherapyNo No
Chewing gum which has sugar and artificial flavouringsYes Yes
Chewing gum with no flavourNoDislikedNo 
Hormone Replacement Therapy PatchNo No
Vaping yesYes Yes
swallowing the wetness that remains after washing one’s mouth for wudu or ghuslno No
B12 InjectionsNo No
Glucose injectionsNo No
Vitamin injectionsNo No

If someone sees a person eating or drinking, he must remind him of the fast, as it is prohibitively disliked to not remind him, unless the person is weak, and it is better they eat. 

A List of activities and their associated rulings in relation to the private organs

ActivityInvalidator?CommentExpiation required?
Using istinja with waterNoBeing careful not to excessively put water up ones anusNo
Suppository in the anusYes No
TamponYesIf inserted all the way inYes
Ejaculation due to touching or kissing Yes  No
Kissing spouse No If one kisses his spouse while not feeling secure [from ejaculation or intercourse], it is disliked. If, however, one feels secure from engaging in intercourse or from ejaculation due to the kissing, it is not disliked.   No
Oral sex –  NoIt would be blameworthy and disliked  No
Orgasm due to looking or thinking without touching.No No
Inserting finger fully in vagina or anus or another instrument YesFull entryNo
Masturbation or by rubbing on breasts or abs or thighsYes No
Having a smear testYesas it requires inserting an object into the private part of a woman.No
Engaging in sexual intercourse because one still thinks Fajr has not entered but it really hasYes No
Engaging in sexual intercourse forgetfullyNoNo
Engaging in sexual intercourse forgetfully and thereafter thinking that the fast is broken, to deliberately have sexual intercourse againYes No
Entering something wet or oiled into the anus, even if it does not completely disappear inside of the bodyYes No
Entering a wet tissue or a wet piece of cotton into the vagina, even if it does not completely disappear inside of the bodyYes No
Entering a dry tissue or a dry piece of cotton into the vagina and it is completely inserted inside of the body without any part remaining outsideYes No
Pouring water or oil into the anus and it reaches the distance of the enemaYes No
pouring water or oil into the vagina and it reaches the distance of the enemaYes No
Whoever has sexual intercourse in other than the vaginal passage, and ejaculates  Yes No
Vaginal examination from the outerNoNo
A wet dreamNoNo

Obligation to Continue fasting

In the following cases one must continue to behave like they are fasting. It is Waajib to do so. 

  • If one breaks the fast [whether accidental, on purpose, or under coercion]
  • If a traveller arrives to his place of residence, and was not fasting on his journey
  • If a woman in menstruation or postnatal bleeding becomes pure
  • If a non-Muslim embraces Islam
  • Or if a child becomes an adult [by puberty or by age].

The first three will need to be made up only.

Making up fasts

The Ramadhan fasts are made up with a qaḍā’ fast. If one begins a voluntary fast and then violates it, he should make it up by way of qaḍā’. When making up fasts in general, one does not have to perform them consecutively.

Whoever is overcome by unconsciousness during Ramadan does not make up as qaḍā’ the fast of the day in which the unconsciousness took place, but he should make up as qaḍā’ whatever fasts come after it.

When the insane person recovers from his insanity for a part of Ramadan, after Ramadan he should make up by way of qaḍā’ whatever fasts have passed, and he should fast whatever days remain in that month.

When a woman menstruates or enters the postnatal period, she should break her fast and make it up by way of qaḍā’ when she becomes pure. As well as all the days she misses out on fasting. When a menstruating woman attains purity during any part of the day, she should abstain from food and drink for the remainder of that day.

  1. Mukallaf and no exemption like old or experiencing menstruation ↩︎
  2. This is whether it is some meat or smoke or whether it has nutritional value or not. ↩︎
  3. and must remain there independently. If someone places a metal rod down the throat but was holding it at one end, then this would not be independent, therefore will not break the fast ↩︎
  4. It was believed it did, so some fatawa were based on that. Also is there a hole in the eardrum, it will be indirectly connected to the throat. ↩︎
  5. However is an exception as per the sunnah. ↩︎
  6. It was believed it did, so some fatawa were based on that ↩︎
  7. Such injury to the body is unlikely and if one sustains such injures, they most like will be excused from fasting, but for the sake of completeness, they have been mentioned. ↩︎
  8. Something so minute when it enters the mouth it is not even felt ↩︎
  9. non exhaustive ↩︎
  10. Haraam but mentioned to clarify for those who may have engaged in this act ↩︎

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