Why Doesn’t Masturbation Necessitate Expiation for Fasts?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


What is the reasoning behind the Hanafi ruling that one must expiate if he breaks his fast through intentionally eating or drinking, but masturbation only necessitates make-up (qadha) but does not necessitate expiation?


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

The legal reasoning behind the expiation regarding the fast of Ramadan is what is known as – complete fulfillment of the desires that one is required to abstain from during the fast. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Intercourse, eating actual food, and drinking are in direct contrast to the specific rulings of fasting. However, masturbation, accidental eating or drinking, and the like are a sort of gray area: the full fulfillment of that particular desire is not achieved (i.e., masturbation is not the same as intercourse regarding the fulfillment of sexual desire). [Ibid.]

Thus, a lesser violation requires a lesser penalty; beyond that, there remains a gray area in Arabic (shubha). Like capital punishments (hudud), expiations are averted at the presence of even the least doubt. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

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.