Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle
Does masturbation break the fast if you don’t know about the rules of fasting?
Thank you for your important question.
If one genuinely had no idea that masturbation was haram and no idea that it broke the fast, then it would not break the fast.
If, however, you knew that it was haram but not that it broke the fast, then it would still break the fast.
Forgiven for One’s Ignorance
Allah Most High does not take us to task if we are genuinely ignorant of certain details. Allah Most High says, “Allah does not ask a soul to do something it cannot do.” [Quran, 2:286] Knowing what you are ignorant of is not within one’s human capability.
For this reason, in the Shafi‘i school, if you honestly didn’t know that something broke your fast, then it wouldn’t actually break your fast. [Ba Fadl, al-Muqaddima al-Hadramiyya]
So, for example, if you didn’t know that ear drops broke your fast, and you used them while fasting, you would not have to make those fasts up.
Now, this is all on the proviso that you are genuinely free of blame, in that you thought the action was permissible to begin and that you didn’t have access to people who could teach it to you, or it was something really nitty gritty that only those specialized in fiqh would know about.
When it comes to masturbation, smoking, or anything else that is above and beyond breaking the fast is haram anyway, one is not genuinely innocent by doing them. For this reason, one would not be excused if one did such a thing while knowing that it was haram, even if one didn’t know that it broke the fast. [Ba ‘Ishn, Bushra al-Karim]
Now, if, on top of that, you had no idea that masturbation was haram, then you would be excused for that because you were genuinely innocent in that you didn’t intentionally do anything wrong.
If this was really the case, then no fasts would have to be made up.
If, honest to God, you didn’t know masturbation was forbidden and that it broke the fast, then no fasts have to be made up.
I pray this helps.
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.