Muslim fasting is a total abstention from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan. Avoiding immoral behaviour and anger and showing compassion are some of the requirements of the fasting period.
The purpose of the fasting is to develop God-consciousness, self-control, improvement of health by reducing or eliminating impurities from the body, and to become aware of the plight of the poor, hungry and sick.
Ramadan is a month of spiritual consciousness and high sense of social responsibility. The fulfilment of one’s obligations during the month is rewarded by 70 times. It is a very joyous occasion for the Muslims of the world. They fast during the day and pray and read Quran during the part of the night. Allah (the God Almighty) sends down special angels during the night to pray for the mercy and salvation for the believers.
Things that invalidate the fast:
Giving the holy nature of the months, Muslims are to avoid certain things that will nullify their fast. One must avoid doing anything that may render one’s fast invalid. Things that invalidate the fast and require qada’ (making up for these days) are the following:
1) Eating, drinking or smoking deliberately, including taking any non-nourishing items by mouth, nose or anus.
2) Deliberately causing oneself to vomit.
3) The beginning of menstrual or post-childbirth bleeding even in the last moment before sunset.
4) Ejaculation out of sexual excitement from kissing, hugging, etc.
5) Eating, drinking, smoking or having sexual intercourse after Fajr (dawn) on mistaken assumption that it is not Fajr time yet. Similarly, engaging in these acts before sunset on the mistaken assumption that it is already sunset time.
Sexual intercourse during fasting is forbidden and is a great sin. Those who engage in it must make both qada’ (make up the fasts) and kaffarah (expiation by fasting for 60 days after Ramadan or to feed 60 poor people for each day of fast broken in this way).
Things that do not invalidate fasting:
During fast, the following things are permissible:
1) Taking a bath or shower. If water is swallowed involuntarily it will not invalidate the fast. According to most of the jurists swimming is also allowed in fasting, but one should avoid diving, because that will cause the water to go from mouth or nose in the stomach.
2) Using perfumes, wearing contact lenses or using eye drops.
3) Taking injections or having blood test.
4) Using miswak (tooth-stick) or toothbrush (even with tooth paste) and rinsing the mouth or nostrils with water provided it is not overdone (so as to avoid swallowing water).
5) Eating, drinking or smoking unintentionally, i.e. one forgot that one was fasting. But one must stop as soon as one remembers and should continue one’s fast.
6) If one sleeps during the daytime and has a wet-dream, it does not break one’s fast. Also, if one has intercourse during the night and was not able to make ghusl (bathe) before dawn, he/she can begin fast and make ghusl later. Women whose menstruation stops during the night may begin fast even if they have not made ghusl yet. In all these cases, bathing (ghusl) is necessary but fast is valid even without bathing.
7) Kissing between husband and wife is allowed in fast, but one should try to avoid it so that one may not do anything further that is forbidden during fast.