28 FAQs on Fasting in Month of Ramadan

Question 1: My daughter is only 9 years old and she is small – she gets very weak.  Am I able to decide for her not to fast?

As long as there is sound concern- not just merely emotional sympathy- for her health then yes, you can. If she is following Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and she finds it too difficult to fast, or you know for sure it’s too difficult for her to fast, then she is exempt from fasting and instead she has to pay for every day of Ramadhan a Fidyah which is 750 grams of wheat or barley, and there is no Qadha on her. The Fidyah must be given to the poor Shi’a.

If she is following Ayatollah Khamenei or Ayatollah Sistani, then in the situation that she can’t fast during the month of Ramadhan, she needs to make it up throughout the year (and) even in the next years of her life.

Question 2: Can I have dental work done which requires injections?

In general, dental work when fasting is Makrooh.

Dental work during fasting is not permissible if you know you will be swallowing water or blood. But if you are confident that you won’t swallow anything then it is fine and your fasting is in order, even if you do accidently swallow something. If you really wish to attend to your teeth during the month of Ramadan, I suggest you drive away in the morning from your city for about 24 kilometres, break your fast there, and (then) when you are not fasting you can attend your dental appointment.

Otherwise, the one who is in severe pain because of say a toothache, or for example, if one does not attend to his tooth as soon as possible then his health will worsen, then he/she will be considered as exempt from fasting in such circumstances.

Question 3: Can I have a vitamin injection?

According to Ayatollah Khamenei: for obligatory precaution it should be avoided while fasting, but according to Ayatollah Sistani it’s permissible as he does not consider injections an example of eating or drinking. Therefore, the followers of Ayatollah Khamenei either avoid vitamin injections while fasting or refer to Ayatollah Sistani on this issue. By the way, please note that Ayatollah Khamenei only has an issue with vitamin or nutritional injections, and not injections like anaesthetics and the like.

Question 4: Will botox injections break my fast?

According to all Maraje’ botox injections do not affect the fast.

Question 5: If I accidentally eat after fajr time, do I keep my fast?

It depends. If you assumed that the Fajr time has not arrived yet, and hence you eat or drink something, after which you became sure that you had mistakenly consumed food or drink after Fajr time, in this situation you have lost the fast of that day but there is no Kaffarah on it. You just need to make it up any time after the month of Ramadhan.

Alternatively, sometimes you accidentally eat or drink (this usually happens during the first days of the month of Ramadhan). In this case your fasting is in order and there is no problem at all.

Question 6: Could you please specify the rules regarding travelling and breaking of the fast?  Do different marajah have different fatawa regarding the distance or where it begins from i.e. from the outskirts of my suburb or outskirts of my city as in Sydney? And does the ruling differ whether I travel in the morning or in the afternoon?

All Maraje’ – except the late Imam Khomeini who believed if you live in big cities like Sydney your journey begins from where your suburb ends – are of the opinion that the beginning of your journey begins from where the local residents consider it the end of the city. Once you travel away from that point for over 22.5 kilometres (almost 14 miles) then you are a traveller.

As for the time of travelling here are different situations and your duties accordingly:

1. If you travel after Noon Prayer: you must keep the fasting of that day.

2. If you travel in the morning but return before Noon time, or are flying back home and you know you will be landing home before Noon time: you have the option of breaking your fast while you are away or if you haven’t done anything that would break your fast you may refrain from eating, drinking etc. until you arrive in your city before Noon time and make intention for fasting of that day.

3. If you travel in the morning with no intention of returning before Noon: you can break your fast once you passed 22.5 kilometres (almost 14 miles).

Question 7: I travel as a routine part of my job every couple of months to another city for 4-5 days.  If it is routine can I continue to fast? Do all maraje have the same ruling regarding this?

The rule of Kathirul-Safar (frequent traveller) doesn’t apply to you unless you at least travel 3 days per week for over six months. Yes, if your job in the other city is indefinite such that you consider that city your second home, then you can pray normal and fast while you are there. Almost all Maraje’ have the same ruling.

Question 8: I have a baby under one year.  What is my obligation to fasting and breastfeeding?

If your fasting affects your baby’s milk then you shouldn’t fast. You however need to make them up throughout the year (and) even in the coming years, and pay Fidyah for every day.

Question 9: I am breastfeeding my baby and my doctor who is not a Muslim has advised me not to fast.  I feel that I am okay with fasting but my doctor says that my baby is not receiving the nutrients it needs because I am not eating and drinking.  What do I do? My only difficulty is that I feel thirsty after feeding my baby.

You have to judge on the situation yourself. The advice of the doctor – whether Muslim or not – is not counted unless you believe them. In general, if you have a sound concern that fasting harms your baby or yourself, then you shouldn’t fast. By the way, a bit of feeling of thirst is natural and it does not justify not fasting unless it’s excessive.

Question 10: How sick do you need to be to not fast?

Any sickness that fasting either harms it or delays its healing justifies breaking the fast. The same rule applies if you have a sound concern about it.

Question 11: What do I do if I have not made up all of my lapsed fasts due to illness, breastfeeding, and menstruation from the previous year?

You have to make them up asap, and if you did not make up fasting of the previous years due to negligence, then there is also a Fidyah due for every day.

Question 12: Does an elderly person who requires medication throughout the day such as insulin injections have to fast?

Insulin injection does not break the fast, but if an elderly person cannot fast due to their illness or age, then they are excused, but they have to make them up during the same year, and if they are unable then they have to pay the Fidyah.

Question 13: Does the asthma puffer/inhaler break the fast? Does it make a difference if I am using a DPI (dry powder inhaler).

Asthma puffers are accuhalers and turbuhalers that deliver a powder to the lungs. There are capsules inside, they get pierced and when you inhale the device, the powder is supposed to be inhaled. So if they are used correctly they will be inhaled into the lungs, otherwise it may end up at the back of the throat.

Therefore, in general, asthma puffers do not break the fast. However, according to Ayatollah Khamenei if it enters the throat as a powder it breaks the fast as an obligatory precaution. Although, according to Ayatollah Sistani as long as it does not go to your throat as a liquid its fine. So, in the worst case scenario that the powder may mistakenly enter the throat, the followers of Ayatollah Khamenei can follow Ayatollah Sistani on this issue.

Please note that the above ruling does not apply to vaporiser/diffuser/steam machines that release oils to inhale such as vicks or eucalyptus. So, the use of Vicks and the like is fine whilst fasting.

Question 14: Can I use eye drops whilst fasting, whether for medication or just moisturising dry itchy eyes?

As long as it does not go to your throat or even if you feel it in your throat but can spit it out, then it is fine.

Question 15: What is the difference between kaffarah and fidyah?

Kaffarah is a bigger penalty. For example, if one deliberately – and without any valid excuse – did not fast, they have to pay a Kaffarah of fasting for 60 days or feeding 60 poor people, whereas Fidyah is a small penalty of 750 grams of wheat or barely or the like. It applies in certain situations, for example, you were travelling during the month of Ramadan and didn’t fast. If you could make them up throughout the year yet you didn’t, then besides making up those days, you have to pay Fidyah for every day too.The same rule applies if a pregnant woman or a breast feeding woman didn’t fast because fasting would harm herself or her baby.

Question 16: Do I have to pay my Fidyah for the previous year by any specific time?

You have to pay it asap, but if you don’t pay it before the next month of Ramadan arrives, the amount won’t be increased.

Question 17: If I have guests on the last night of the fasting month, am I obligated to pay their Zakatul-Fitr? What is the ruling if they insist to pay their own or if they don’t mention anything, does the obligation lie on the host? (at what point does it become obligatory on the host?)

According to Ayatollah Sistani if you have invited someone on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr (the evening of the last day of the month of Ramadan) for Iftar and you took it upon yourself to feed him, then his Zakatul-Fitr is on you. However, if he confirms that he will be paying it himself there is no obligation on you anymore.

According to Ayatullah Khamenei a person who is your guest only on that night has to pay his Zakatul-Fitra himself and there is no obligation on the host.

Question 18: Does one have to pay the recommended amount by their local Islamic Centre or Mosque? 

If they are confident that the amount specified by them is correct then yes, otherwise they have to find out for themselves.

Question 19: What does one do if there are many in the family and it becomes too expensive?  Is the amount advertised obligatory and the family should by any means pay the exact amount, or can they pay as much as they can afford?

Those who can afford it must pay the full amount, otherwise, if they are poor they can even receive the Zakat.

Question 20: Do I have to give my Zakatul-Fitr to the local mosque or centre or can I send it overseas to poor relatives/people?

You don’t have to pay it to your local Mosque or Centre. As long as you have paid it to poor Shi’a you have met your obligation. Of course, relatives have the priority as long as they are not your direct family, i.e. parents, children, wife.

Question 21: My son says he can’t fast on sports days at school as sports is compulsory, but it’s too difficult to fast.  What do we do?

Advise him that the obligation of fasting is more important than playing sport, and the consequences of not fasting is more severe than missing his sport.

Question 22: What is the penalty for not fasting one day in the holy month of Ramadhan without a valid reason?

If one breaks his fast with something that is normally Halal like food and drink, then the penalty is fasting of that day plus 60 days of fasting or feeding 60 poor people. And if one breaks his fast with something Haraam like masturbation, then the penalty is both fasting for 60 days and feeding 60 poor people.

Question 23: Is my fast accepted if I don’t pray?

Your fasting is valid, each to their own. However, remember that Allah accepts it only from the pious people. It is not an act of piety to obey God on some issues but disobey Him in others.

Question 24: Is it okay to use a mouthwash whilst fasting?

As long as you don’t swallow anything its fine.

Question 25: Is it okay to brush my teeth with toothpaste whilst fasting?

It’s fine as long as you don’t swallow anything.

Question 26: Can I chew gum (mastik) without flavour whilst fasting?

There is a problem in that, so please avoid it.

Question 27: What do I do if I have had a wet dream and wake up just in time for fajr prayer? Do I need a ghusl?

Wet dream does not void fasting, but you need to do your Ghusl as soon as possible.

Question 28: If I am in a state of junoob and wake up at fajr time without time to perform ghusl, can I still shower and fast? Is the fast accepted?

In that situation you just need to do your Ghusl and your fasting is in order.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei