What if Someone Breaks One’s Fast in Ramadan Without a Valid Excuse?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Bassem Itani


What is the consequence for someone who breaks their fast during the day in Ramadan without a valid excuse?


All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad, his Family, and all his Companions.

Anyone who breaks their fast by eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual intercourse during the day in Ramadan deliberately without a valid excuse, such as travel, illness, severe hardship, or coercion, is considered a sinner in the judgment of Sacred Law and must repent. It is obligatory for them to abstain (from further violation) for the remainder of their day, and they must make up for this day. Moreover, according to the Hanafi school of thought, an expiation (kaffara) is required, which in our time is to fast for two consecutive months. If one is unable to do so, then they must feed sixty poor people. [Zayla‘i, Tabayin al-Haqa’iq]

The month of Ramadan holds great sanctity and is among the global symbols for Muslims, so deliberately violating it is an infringement upon the sanctity of this month and is considered a major sin by the consensus of scholars.

This entails:

  1. Repentance: The perpetrator must sincerely repent by feeling remorse for their action and resolve not to return to it. For those who repent, Allah will accept their repentance. It is reported in the noble hadith: “The one who repents from sin is like the one who has no sin.” [Ibn Maja]
  2. Abstaining for the Rest of Their Day: It is obligatory for them to abstain from all things that break the fast for the remainder of the day that they have violated by not eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual relations, meaning they should consider themselves as though they are fasting. Some might think that it is permissible for them to eat and drink since their fast is already invalidated, but this is not the case. Abstaining is a form of honoring the fasting ritual; it is an outward semblance of fasting, and in reality, their fast is not valid. Abstaining serves to protect the sanctity of this great month.
  3. Making Up for the Day: The individual must make up for this day just as they would for other physical acts of worship like prayer and Hajj. So, if someone invalidates a mandatory prayer, they are required to perform it again, and if they invalidate their Hajj, they are required to perform it again. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to a man who had sexual intercourse with his wife during Ramadan: “Fast one day in its place.” [Ibn Maja]
  4. Expiation (Kaffara): To atone for this violation of the sanctity of this month, expiation serves as a punishment legislated for deterrence to prevent the recurrence of this act. Expiation embodies the essence of worship as it involves fasting and feeding the poor and is a form of training for the individual to endure worship. By violating the sanctity of the month, the legislation imposes a hefty dose of worship, which is fasting for sixty days to overcome oneself and to accustom to enduring worship.


The expiation should follow this order: the freeing of a slave, and if unable, then fasting for two consecutive months, and if unable, then feeding sixty poor people. In our times, freeing a slave is not applicable as the system of slavery does not exist.

The expiation is established in the prophetic tradition for those who break their fast in Ramadan, with the breaking being due to eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual intercourse. It has been reported from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that:

“The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) commanded a man who had broken his fast in Ramadan to free a slave, or to fast for two months, or to feed sixty poor people.” [Muslim]

An important note:

In our time, we observe Muslims who deliberately break their fast in Ramadan out of laziness or neglect, knowing the obligation of fasting in Ramadan, and they break the fast for multiple Ramadans, then later repent and become religious. Do they owe multiple expiations or not? These individuals must repent and make up for the days they broke their fast by consensus. However, if they began fasting and then broke their fast on some days without making kaffara, they owe only one kaffara, not multiple. If they did not begin fasting at all and missed multiple Ramadans, they only need to make up for the fasts. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

And Allah is the Guardian of success and the Helper in performing acts of obedience.

[Shaykh] 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.