Permissible & Excused Acts during Siyam (Fasting in Islam)There are several groups of conditions that determine the validation of the Sawm: 1. Acts that are permissible and excused during the Sawm; 2. Acts that are undesirable while fasting; 3. Acts that invalidate the Sawm and require Qada, – making up missed days of Sawm, day for day; and 4. Acts that invalidate the Sawm and require both making up missed days and ‘Kaffarah – a penance’, as well.

In some of Masail (Fiqh issues) mentioned here, there are different opinions among Muslim scholars, especially in the first, second and third groups. But we have to remind ourselves that Allah (SWT) does not intend to put us through hardship in following the rules of our Din.

Almighty Allah informs us about it in the Qur’an: “Allah does not intend to impose hardship on you while following your Din.” {Al Hajj 78} And concerning Sawm, Allah says in the Qur’an: “Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.”               {Al Baqarah 185}

Let me discuss today Permissible & Excused Acts During Siyam. Any obedient servant who understands the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger Muhammad (S) will never doubt the fact that Allah wishes ease for His servants and not hardship, since He has allowed various things for the Saim and has eliminated any harm if they are done.

a)         Rinsing the mouth and nose. The Saim is permitted to rinse the mouth and nose by sniffing in water and blowing it out. However, that is permitted in general, but it is disliked to exaggerate, using a lot of water. The process should be applied lightly for fear of swallowing water. While brushing the teeth any time of the day, the care must be taken if the tooth paste is used. Some Islamic scholars consider brushing the teeth undesirable late in the day.

b)         Cooling one’s body with water by shower or bathing or immersion in water. Abu Bakr Ibn ‘Abdur Rahman reported from a number of Sahabah that they have seen the Messenger of Allah pour water over his head while he was fasting due to thirst or extreme heat. (Ahmad, Malik, Abu Dawud – Sahih chain) Hasan Al Basri said: “There is no harm in rinsing the mouth and cooling ones body with cold water when fasting.”

c)         Eating and drinking and performing sexual intercourse with a spouse until one ascertains the arrival of the dawn.

d)         Kissing one’s spouse if it does not lead to intercourse. This permissibility is reported by Abu Hanifa, Ash Shafi’I, Ibn ‘Abbas, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Hasan Al Basri. It can take place any time, day or night. To deny this feeling during the month of Ramadan would undoubtedly lead to some hardship.

Therefore, Almighty Allah permitted a man / a woman to kiss his / her spouse on cheek, hand, or mouth or hold hand and embrace, if he / she feels like it and can control the feelings. It is confirmed that ‘Aisha (raa) said: “The Messenger would kiss and embrace while he was fasting, for he had the most control of all of you over his desires.” {Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmithi}

However, it is discouraged to kiss or have foreplay while fasting as it may lead to loss of control, and that can lead to the unlawful act. This general rule in Islamic jurisprudence is known as Saduz Zari’ah (closing the door that may lead to unlawful acts).

e)         Taking of shots or injection for treatment purposes, but on the other hand taking of nutrients or vitamins through injections would break the Sawm. This includes local anesthetics for dental procedures, as well. The dental procedures are permissible as long as a dentist and a patient are both capable of preventing water or other dental materials from reaching beyond the throat. If it happens then it will definitely nullify the Sawm.

For that reason, it is recommended, except in urgent cases, to avoid such practices. As mentioned before, medically required injections, eye and ear drops and medications placed on wounds, as long as they are not for nourishing purposes do not invalidate the fast even if one finds a taste in the throat as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Al Qayyim observed.

f)         Using oil or ointment or even eye / ear drops does not harm the Sawm. This permissibility is reported by Anas bin Malik, Abu Hanifah, Ash Shafi’I, Ibn Al Munthir, Hasan Al Basri, Al Awzai and Abdullah ibn ‘Umar.

g)         Smelling or wearing (use) of perfumes (non-alcoholic) or scents (although it is not recommended).

h)         Cupping or letting out blood medically (giving blood for medical reasons). It was narrated by Ibn Abbas (raa) that the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was cupped when he was fasting.”                           {Bukhari}

The following acts are excused while fasting; these are the things which are unavoidable for they are a part of our daily living:

a)         Swallowing one’s own saliva.

b)         Vomiting which is not self-induced, on which one has no control.

c)         Dust of streets, or factories, and smoke of fuel or fire, which cannot be avoided.

d)         Waking up in the state of Janabah (sexual defilement) would not affect the Sawm.

e)         Nocturnal emission or wet dreams. The Messenger of Allah said: “The obligation is lifted from three persons: Insane until he gains sanity, a sleeping person until he is awake, and a child until he / she attains puberty.”

f)         Eating and drinking by mistake while fasting, forgetting the fact that one is fasting. The Messenger of Allah informs us: “Whoever eats and drinks by mistake (forgetfulness) while fasting, let him / her continue the fasting for it is Allah (SWT) Who provided food and drink for him / her.”             {Bukhari, Muslim}