Sexual Intercourse while Fasting in Ramadān, its Sin and its Expiation

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Sexual Intercourse while Fasting

Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) narrated stated that a man came to Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and said: “I am destroyed O Messenger of Allah!” Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) asked him: “And what has destroyed you?” He responded: “I had sexual intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.” The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Are you able to free a slave?” He replied: “No.” The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Are you able to fast two months consequently?” He said: “No.” The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) asked: “Can find food to feed sixty poor people?” He replied: “No.” Then the man sat down.

A little while later, the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was given a large basket of dates. He turned to the man and said: “Go and give this in charity.” The man said: “And is there anyone who is poorer than us? There is not a family living between the two lava plains of Madinah more in need of it than us.” The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) laughed till his back teeth became visible. Then he said: “Go and feed your family with it.”[1]

This hadīth is clear proof that sexual intercourse breaks the fast and is a sin for the who engages in it while fasting in Ramadan during the day. The one who falls into this sin nullifies his fast and is obligated to offer expiation. This man came to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) fearing destruction, but he found the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) lenient and gentle. This hadīth brings to light several affairs:

1. Sexual intercourse while fasting nullifies the fast according to the Qur’ān, Sunnah and consensus (ijmā’).

2. One should return to the people of knowledge for fatāwā because the one who does not know is commanded to ask the people of knowledge.

3. The excellent and fine manners of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his gentle treatment of the people who seek guidance and his wish to rectify their errors. He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not get angry with this man nor display harshness. Instead, he listened to his question and gave him step-by-step advice in resolving his sin.

4. This hadīth proves that the kaffārah (expiation) is obligatory for sexual intercourse while fasting and it is:

(i) Free a slave, and it must be a believing slave.
(ii) If he cannot find a believing slave to free, then he must fast for two months consecutively.
(iii) If he cannot do that, then he must feed sixty poor people half a sā’ (1.2kg) each.

5. The kaffārah (expiation) is in the order stated in the hadīth and one should not change the order as prescribed as it is not open to individual choice.   

6. This hadīth proves that if one is not able to pay the expiation at all, then the obligation is lifted because the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not command this man with anything further. However, some scholars hold that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) paid the expiation on his behalf with a large basket of dates and that is why the obligation was lifted.[2]

7. A kaffārah can be fulfilled by other than the person upon whom it is obligatory with his permission and approval. So, in this case, the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) discharged the kaffārah and it was given to the man who committed the violation because he was in need and deserving. And this is something permitted.

8. This expiation is only paid by the one who deliberately falls into the sin. As for the one who was ignorant of the ruling or forgetful, then his fast is not corrupted and there is no expiation to be done due to the saying of Allah (the Most High):

رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا

“Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error.”[3] And the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated: “Allah has overlooked the unintentional mistakes of my Ummah and what they forget, and what they are forced to do.”[4]

The man in the hadīth knew the ruling of the prohibition of sexual intercourse while fasting and that is why he said: “I am destroyed” which indicates that he did not have the excuse of ignorance or forgetfulness. And Allāh knows best.


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[1] Ahmad (no. 7290), Bukhāri (no. 1936), Muslim (no. 1111), Abu Dawūd (no. 2390), Ibn Mājah (no. 1671), At-Tirmidhi (no. 724), An-Nasā’ī in Al-Kubrā (3114-3119).

[2] Meaning that if, later on, a person finds the ability to pay, then he should pay the kaffārah.

[3] Al-Baqarah: 286.

[4] Ibn Mājah (no. 2045) and authenticated by Ibn Hibbān (7219).

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