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Muslims saying a prayer before iftar, the meal taken at sunset to end the day's fast. [Picture for illustrative purpose only] Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Therefore, certain rules and regulations must be adhered to while observing this annual practice.

According to Abdel Basset Ahmed Hamdallah, Grand Mufti at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, there are two categories of acts that can lead to a breaking of the fast. The first category of act refers to ingesting something, such as eating, drinking, taking medicine or vitamin injections. The second category refers to acts such as sexual intimacy, vomiting, menstruation and so on.

“Muslim scholars have all agreed that whatever makes its way into the human abdomen leads to a breaking of the fast — even if it’s part of a treatment procedure. Muslims need to know and understand that for their Ramadan fast,” Hamdallah told Gulf News over the phone. Hamdallah, said Muslims may face many situations on a daily basis during their Ramadan fast and they need to know whether or not such situations lead to a breaking of their fast.

He said that if a person accidentally eats or drinks while fasting then his or her fast is still valid. “When a person unintentionally eats or drinks, it doesn’t break their fast. Their fast still holds,” he said. “Quran says: ‘And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your heart deliberately intends. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful’ [Al-Ahzaab 33:5]’.”

Hamdallah said that while fasting, one should rinse one’s mouth and nose with only a limited quantity of water, so that one does not end up swallowing the water. “If you do so [swallow the water], it invalidates your fast. Chewing gum or smoking breaks the fast too,” he said.

Meanwhile, if one simply tastes some food, but does not swallow it and rinses it away, it is acceptable and his or her fast will still be valid.

Brushing the teeth

Hamdallah further said that brushing one’s teeth using toothpaste and a brush is discouraged because the paste can reach the throat. So it is better to use miswak (a teeth-cleaning twig). “Muslims need to know that miswak is preferable and is encouraged to be used during the fasting hours to brush teeth and eliminate bad breath. Toothpaste won’t break the fast if it doesn’t reach the throat,” Hamdallah further explained.

Swimming or taking a shower

Swimming doesn’t break a person’s fast, but if the water makes its way through the mouth into the throat or inside the nose, then it can entail a breaking of the fast because the water is likely to reach the stomach. “Any water that reaches the throat will break the fast, he said.

Physical intimacy

Hamdallah warned against engaging in any kind of sexual behaviour during the fasting hours and to be cautious because even a hug or a kiss can trigger such behaviour. He said having sexual intercourse during the fasting hours will break the fast. The person who ruins the fast must perform Kaffara, which means he or she must either fast for a continuous period of 60 days or feed 60 poor people.

Ear and eye drops, nose sprays

Hamdallah further said that if water or ear drops enter the ears then they are most likely to break the fast because there are pores from where the fluid can reach the abdomen. “Nose sprays can also break the fast if they reach the abdomen, so people should take precautions,” he said. “As for eye drops, scholars differ, so I recommend people avoid it unless they urgently need it during fasting hours.”

Insulin injections for diabetic people

Hamdallah said that insulin injections do not break the fast, but people are advised to control the dosage so that it is just sufficient to bring back the body sugar level to normal.

Moreover, Hamdallah said that there are two types of illnesses that determine whether a person should fast or not. “If a person suffers from any type of illness that requires immediate medication, then he or she is excused from fasting. Fasting under such circumstances can deteriorate their health,” he said.

However, a person suffering from a headache or any other illness that is tolerable can delay their medication until Isha, Maghrib or suhour. If the pain is intolerable, then they do not need to fast.”

The elderly and terminally ill who require continuous medication are also excused from fasting.

Applying lipstick and nail polish

Hamdallah said that applying lipstick or any cream on the skin won’t break one’s fast. “As for nail polish, it doesn’t break the fast, but it must be removed before ablution.”

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Cursing, shouting, lying and listening to music

With regard to cursing, shouting, lying and listening to music, Hamdallah said: “These do not break the fast, but engaging in such behaviour can limit the person’s rewards and God’s forgiveness. Fasting is not only about avoiding food and drinks, but a person must also maintain good manners during Ramdan,” Hamdallah added.