Is the Fast Nullified if One Forgetfully Consumes Food or Drink?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Bassem Itani


Is the fast nullified when food or drink is consumed forgetfully?


In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate.


If the fasting person eats or drinks forgetfully, whether the fast be obligatory (i.e. fasting in the month of Ramadan, a fast being made up (qada), or one which was vowed) or an optional fast, the fast is not nullified and does not require qada. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)  said,

“Whoever eats forgetfully in the month of Ramadan, he is not to make it up, nor is there an expiation for him.” [Ibn Hibaan]

He (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said,

“Whoever forgets that he is fasting and he has eaten or drank something, then he should complete his fast. Indeed Allah has fed him and given him to drink.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

The first Hadith mentioned is specific to the month of Ramadan. The second Hadith is general and not specific to Ramadan; therefore, it refers to any fast, whenever it may be. We act upon both Hadith, and there is no difference between consuming a little bit of food and drink or a lot, due to the Hadith being general.

Sustenance From Allah (Most High)

The person who did not intend to eat is not taken to task for his forgetfulness; it was sustenance from Allah (Most High).

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) saw the sustenance as being provided by Allah. Whatever is seen as being given by Allah (Most High), the servant would not be held accountable for. It is from the bounty of Allah (Most High) that He doesn’t take you to task in this matter since there is no making up or expiation for the slave, as Allah has treated him as though he is still a fasting person.

[Shaykh] Dr. Bassem Itani

Shaykh Dr. Bassem Hussayn Itani was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies in 2005. Among his mentors were Shaykh Muhammad Taha Sukkar, Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, Shaykh Mulla Abdul ‘Alim al-Zinki, Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi, Shaykh Dr. Mustafa Dib al-Bugha, Shaykh Dr. Wahba al-Zuhayli, Dr. Muhammad al-Zuhayli, and others, may Allah have mercy on them all. 

Shaykh Itani has a rich background in both academic and administrative fields. He has held significant positions in many governmental and non-governmental institutions in Lebanon and abroad. This includes his role as a member of the Academic Committee at SeekersGuidance and a senior teacher with the free online global seminary.

From 2020 to 2021, he served as the Dean of the College of Da‘wa – University for Islamic Studies (Lebanon) – Postgraduate Studies. He was the Director of Dar Iqra for Islamic Sciences from 1998 to 2018. Shaykh Itani is a well-versed teacher in several academic subjects, including Fiqh, Usul, Aqida, and Tafsir. He has supervised and examined numerous Master’s and Doctoral theses at various universities and colleges in Lebanon.

His contributions to Islamic sciences are also evident in his writings and research. His notable works include “The Relied-upon Statements of Imam Zufar in the Hanafi School,” “Collective Ijtihad: The Sublimity of Thought in the 21st Century,” and “Custom and its Impact in Islamic Jurisprudence.” Shaykh Itani has actively participated in numerous scientific conferences and seminars, both in Lebanon and internationally. He is linguistically adept, excelling in Arabic, proficient in French, and comfortably conversant in English.