What Is the Expiation for Sexual Intimacy during Fasting?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

If a person deliberately breaks a fast during the month of Ramadan due to having sexual relations knowing that the fast would be broken but was unaware of the severity of the penalty (kaffara), then should that person fast for 60 days or pay kaffara? If she is able to fast for 60 days does she still have the option of paying kaffara instead?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

It is obligatory for someone who deliberately had intercourse during the fast of Ramadan, knowing that such an action will break their fast, to perform the expiation describe in the Quran, on top of making up the day of fasting that was broken. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

This expiation is based upon the penalty of Zihar (an ancient Arabian method of divorce prohibited by the Quran), which is explained in the following verse: [Ibid.]

From the Quran

Allah Most High says, “Those of you who say such a thing to their wives, then go back on what they have said, must free a slave before the couple may touch one another again––this is what you are commanded to do, and God is fully aware of what you do––but anyone who does not have the means should fast continuously for two months before they touch each other, and anyone unable to do this should feed sixty needy people. This is so that you may [truly] have faith in God and His Messenger. These are the bounds set by God: grievous torment awaits those who ignore them.” [Quran; 58:3-4]

From the Prophetic Narrations

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that a man came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “I am destroyed! I fell upon my wife in Ramadan (i.e. he had intercourse with her).” The Prophet replied, “Free a slave.” He said, “I don’t have one.” He then said, “Then fast two consecutive months.” He said, “I am not able to.” He said, “Then feed 60 poor people.”… [Bukhari]

Thus, the expiation is one of three things based on the order mentioned in the verse — each subsequent option only being allowed if the previous is not possible:

  • Freeing a slave
  • Fasting 60 consecutive days
  • Feeding 60 poor people

Performing the 60-Day Expiatory Fast

The 60-day fast must be done consecutively at a time that none of the 5 disliked days of fasting fall within that time period. The days of a women’s menstruation does not invalidate the consecutive nature of the fasts, as that would make performing it impossible for many. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Note

Mere insertion of the male organ into the female organ such that the tip of the male organ is concealed is sufficient to bring on this penalty. Ejaculation is not a condition. The 60 days is then obligatory on both the male and the female. However, if the female did not allow this voluntarily, only a makeup fast is due [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Summary

Ramadan is a month that is blessed and sacrosanct. It is a gift from Allah Most High and an immense opportunity to achieve further nearness to Allah Most High. With the increase status of the month, sacrilegious acts are that much more heinous and therefore the penalty often much more severe. One’s ignorance of the ruling does not affect the ruling due to the obligation of seeking the required amount of Islamic knowledge (the exception is someone who is very new to the religion or has no access to a teacher). Fulfilling the required expiation is a means of atonement and a means of drawing near to Allah Most High in itself. Strive to redress this wrong by fulfilling the expiation and completing your repentance. Purify your intention and seek the pleasure of Allah Most High.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.

Arabic References:

أَتَى رَجُلٌ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: هَلَكَتِ، وَقَعْتُ عَلَى أَهْلِي فِي رَمَضَانَ، قَالَ: (أَعْتِقْ رَقَبَةً). قَالَ: لَيْسَ لِي، قَالَ: (فَصُمْ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ). قَالَ: لَا أَسْتَطِيعُ، قَالَ: (فَأَطْعِمْ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِينًا). قَالَ: لَا أَجِدُ، فَأُتِيَ بِعَرَقٍ فِيهِ تَمْرٌ – قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ: الْعَرَقُ الْمِكْتَلُ – فَقَالَ: (أَيْنَ السَّائِلُ، تَصَدَّقْ بِهَا). قَالَ: عَلَى أَفْقَرَ مِنِّي، وَاللَّهِ مَا بَيْنَ لَابَتَيْهَا أَهْلُ بَيْتٍ أَفْقَرُ مِنَّا، فَضَحِكَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَتَّى بَدَتْ نَوَاجِذُهُ، قَالَ: (فأنتم إذاً).
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