Fast: Orifices and Cavities in light of the Quran and Sunnah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الجوف والمنفذ في ضوء الكتاب والسنة واقوال فقهاء الامة

The Ummah agrees that eating, drinking and sexual intercourse causes the fast to break.[i] Allah Ta’ala states, “So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset.”[ii]

The mouth being an orifice of consequence and the throat, stomach and intestines being cavities of consequence was deduced from this verse. Therefore if anything is ingested through the mouth and reaches the intestines, stomach or just the throat, the fast will break according to the four Schools of Thought.[iii]

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has also said, “Inhale water high up, unless you are fasting.”[iv] From this hadith, all the scholars deduce that the nose is also an orifice of consequence. If anything with a body is inhaled through it, the fast will break.[v] Another point to note is that in wudhu, if one was to sniff with the normal everyday wudhu force which the hadith encourages while not fasting, only a minuscule amount of water may reach the throat and even less than that the stomach, if it even reaches.[vi] Yet, the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prohibited from this. This clearly shows that the strict stance of the four Schools of Thought on the issue of ‘anything inserted into the throat intentionally breaks the fast’[vii] is fully substantiated from the Sunnah.

As for the eyes being an orifice of consequence, then there are contradicting narrations on the issue, due to which the scholars held different views. Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه) narrated that a man came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and said: “My eyes are bothering me, can I use kuhl (antimony) while I am fasting?” He said: “Yes.”[viii] Aishah (رضي الله عنها) narrates, that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) applied kuhl in Ramadhan while he was fasting.[ix] Based on these narrations and others, the overwhelming majority of scholars state that the fast will not break by anything entering the eyes, says Shawkani, even though scientific technology says that there is a connection from the eyes to the throat. Analogy was abandoned due to the divine text. On the other hand there is a narration from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)  that he ordered scented Ithmid[x] be used at the time of sleep, and said: “A person fasting should abstain from it.” Some scholars like Ibn Shubrumah and Ibn Abi Laila used this hadith to state that the eye is also an orifice of consequence. [xi] However, after narrating this hadith, Imam Abu Dawud said, Yahya bin Maeen said to me: “It is a munkar hadith.” This means that the hadith is extremely weak.[xii]

These are the specific hadiths which pinpoint the ruling of certain orifices and cavities of consequence. The mouth and nose are orifices of consequence, through which the fast will break, while the eyes are not. From the following hadith the scholars concluded that analogy will play a role in determining the other orifices of consequence and/or cavities of consequence.

Once Umar bin Al-Khattab kissed while fasting. He said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have done a horrible thing today; I kissed while I was fasting.” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “What do you think if you rinse your mouth with water while fasting?” “I (‘Umar) said: ‘There would be no harm in that.” “He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Then what?”[xiii]

In this hadith the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not simply answer the question with ‘it will not break’, rather he trained Umar, and by extension the Mujtahidun of the Ummah, to use the knowledge they have from the Quran and Sunnah, concerning the breakers of fast, to extrapolate further rules for other cases and scenarios.

Therefore the scholars used the above divine text along with the following general narration to extrapolate the remainder breakers of fast. It is narrated from Aishah (رضي الله عنها) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Fast breaks from what enters.”[xiv] This was echoed by giant Sahabahs, like Ibn Masud[xv] and Ibn Abbas.[xvi] (رضي الله عنهم) Rather, Imam Abu Bakr Jassaas used the hadith which prohibits the fasting person from snuffing water high. He says this hadith is the basis to prove that fast will break from even unusual orifices, other than the mouth, which leads to a cavity of consequence.[xvii]

The Hanafi Scholars concluded that if a fasting person inserts anything in his body and it reaches a cavity of consequence, viz. throat, stomach or intestines through an orifice of consequence viz. the mouth, nose, rectum, abdominal injury, puncture and ear – if the tympanic membrane is perforated then fast will break.[xviii] The Four Mathabs agree that anything reaching the above three cavities will break the fast. They also agree that the insertion of a wet finger in the rectum breaks the fast.

Where the divine texts were silent, the scholars used the knowledge of medicine, available to them in those days, to deduce which orifice leads to the cavities of consequence. In those days they learnt from the doctors that there was a connection from the ears to the throat even if the tympanic membrane was not perforated. Similarly they learnt from the doctors that there was a connection from the woman’s uterus to her stomach. The great Hanafi jurist Burhanud Deen Ali Al-Marghinani rightfully pointed out that this has nothing to do with Fiqh, rather it is an issue of Biology. So based on these findings they issued the fatwa that solids, liquids, medicine etc. inserted through these orifices will cause the fast to break.

However, modern science and biology informs us that when the tympanic membrane is intact and not perforated, there is no connection to the throat. Similarly the biologist state that there is no connection between the female’s uterus and her stomach. Based on this, Scholars of our era are stating that the fast will not break if anything is inserted through these orifices.[xix]

If a person wishes to be more cautious on the issue, they may refrain from inserting anything in these orifices. In the scenario where they are compelled to, due to medical reasons, they may make up a fast out of caution.

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.


[i] Bidayatul Mujtahid by Ibn Rushd Vol.1 Pg.431, Al-Majmoo Vol.6 Pg.313, Al-Mughni Vol.4 Pg.349

[ii] {Al-Baqarah:187}

[iii] See Mawsooah Fiqhiyah Kuwaitiyah Vol.28 Pg.29-30 & 38-40

[iv] Collected by Abu Dawud #2366, Tirmithi #788, Ibn Majah #407, Nasai #87. Hafiz Ibn Hajr states that Ibn Khuzaimah authenticated it. [Bulooghul Maraam #37]

[v] See Mawsooah Fiqhiyah Kuwaitiyah Vol.28 Pg.35

[vi] See Jassas in Sharh Mukhtasar Tahaawi Vol.2 Pg.461

[vii] [Ahnaaf] Sharh Mukhtasar Tahaawi Vol.2 Pg.461, [Malikiyah] Hashiyah Dasuqi Vol.1 Pg.524, [Shawafe] Al-Majmoo Vol.6 Pg.313, [Hanabilah] Al-Mughni Vol.4 Pg.352-3

[viii] Tirmithi #726

[ix] Ibn Majah #1678

[x] Ithmid is a type of antimony.

[xi] Bazlul Majhood Vol.8 Pg.529-530. Malikiyah and Hanabilah also took the opinion that kuhl breaks in certain cases, like when it reaches the throat. See Hashiyah Dasuqi Vol.1 Pg.524, Al-Mughni Vol.4 Pg.353-4

[xii] Some scholars explained that if the hadith was considered sound, the prohibition would be to close the doors to any whispers of Shaitan, which may create doubts in the fasting person concerning the breaking of his fast, if he happened to taste the kuhl in his throat. [Taqrir Muhaddith Gangohi, Hashiyah Bazlul Majhood, Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyah Kandhalvi Vol.8 Pg.530, Ta’leeq 2]

[xiii] Abu Dawud #2385. Hafiz Ibn Hajr sates that Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban and Hakim all authenticate this hadith. [Fathul Bari Vol.4 Pg.152]

[xiv] Musnad Abu Ya’laa #4602, #4954. Some muhaddithun have pointed out that Salma, a narrator of this hadith is unknown. However, she was a student of Aishah and Umm Salamah (رضي الله عنهما). Since she is a tabi’eyah and the narrator from her, Razeen Al-Juhani, is reliable and this hadith is supported by the statements of the Sahabah, it will be strong enough to use as evidence. [See Tahzeebul Kamaal Vol.35 Pg.196 & Vol.9 Pg.186-7]

[xv] Musannaf Abdur Razzaq #7518, Tabrani in Kabir Vol.9 Pg.287 #9237 & #9576 and Nasbur Rayah Vol.2 Pg.454. Haithami classified all it narrators reliable. [Majmauz Zawaaid Vol.1 Pg.243]

[xvi] Nuskhah Wakee a’n A’mash #2, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah #9411, Sunan Baihaqi under the heading ‘The chapter concerning the fast breaking by food and other than food once he ingest it intentionally and by snuffing and by administering through the anus and other than that by which enters his cavity intentionally’. [Vol.4 Pg.261] Its chain is authentic. [See Fathul Baari Vol.4 Pg.175, Talkhisul Habir Vol.1 Pg.312]

[xvii] Sharh Mukhtasar Tahawi Vol.2 Pg.461-2. Subhaanallah! The mind of the Literalist do not see past the text, while the mind of those whose hearts are filled with the Nur of ilmun Nubuwwah see an ocean of knowledge in even the shortest statement of our beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). And Tawfeeq is in Allah’s hands, Alone.

[xviii] Dhabitul Muftiraat Mufti Zubair Butt, Fiqh of Fasting, Rashadi Publications Pg.41-43

[xix] Dhabitul Muftiraat Mufti Zubair Butt, Fiqh of Fasting, Rashadi Publications Pg.41-43

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