Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
- Intercourse while fasting is one of the most serious things that invalidate the fast.
- The most preferred and correct view is that the wife has to expiate for that day if she willingly had intercourse, i.e. not out of ignorance or forgetfulness.
In responding to the question, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, states:
Intercourse while fasting is one of the most serious things that invalidate the fast. If a woman’s husband has intercourse with her during the day in Ramadan, one of the following two scenarios must apply:
1- She can be excused because she was forced to do it, or she forgot, or she was ignorant of the prohibition of having intercourse during the day in Ramadan.
In that case, her fast remains valid and she does not have to make it up or offer expiation. This was narrated in one report from Imam Ahmad, and was the view favored by Imam Ibn Taymiyyah.
Among contemporary scholars it was favored by Sheikh Ibn Baz and Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on them).
They quoted a number of things as evidence including the following:
- The verse in which Allah Almighty says, “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)
- Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet said, “Whoever eats out of forgetfulness when he is fasting, let him complete his fast, for it is Allah Who has given him food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The scholars said, “Intercourse and all other things that break the fast may be compared to food and drink.”
- Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has forgiven my Ummah for mistakes, forgetfulness and what they are forced to do.” (Ibn Majah)
Sheikh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about a man who had intercourse with his wife when she did not agree to it. He replied, “…As for the woman, if she was forced, then she does not have to do anything and her fast is valid” (Majmu` Fatawa Ibn Baaz, 15/310)
In his in al-Sharh al-Mumti` (6/404), Sheikh ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Concerning the ruling on intercourse during the day in Ramadan, if the woman is excused because she was ignorant or she forgot or she was forced, then she does not have to make up that day or offer expiation”
2- The woman was not forced; rather she went along willingly with her husband in having intercourse. As for expiation for her in this case, there is a difference of scholarly opinion and there are two views:
The first view is that she must make up for that day and offer expiation, if she went along willingly. This is the view of the majority of scholars.
They quoted the following as evidence:
- The proven report in al-Sahihayn (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) which says that the Prophet ordered the man who had intercourse with his wife during the day in Ramadan to offer expiation, and the basic principle is that rulings apply equally to men and women, unless the lawgiver (al-musharri`) makes a clear exception.
- As she has violated the Ramadan fast by having intercourse during the day, she must also offer expiation like the man.
- Because it is a punishment that has to do with intercourse, so it applies equally to the man and the woman, as in the case of adultery (zina).
Al-Bahuti (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Muntaha al-Iraadat (1/486), “A woman who went along willingly and was not unaware of the ruling and did not forget that she was fasting is like a man with regard to it being obligatory to make up for that fast and offer expiation, because she violated the sanctity of the Ramadan fast by having intercourse willingly, so she is like the man.”
The second view is that the expiation is to be offered by the man only, and the woman does not have to do anything, regardless of whether she was forced or did it willingly. This is the view of al-Shafa`i and was mentioned in one report from Imam Ahmad.
They quoted, as evidence, the fact that the Prophet told the man to offer expiation, and did not mention any expiation for the woman. They said, “It is not permissible to delay explanation (of the ruling) from the time when it is needed.”
This can be replied to that the expiation was not mentioned with regard to the woman because the man is the one who asked about himself and the woman did not ask, and it is to be assumed that she is excused because she was unaware of the ruling or was forced.
The most correct view is that the expiation is required from the woman as it is required from the man. This view was favored by Sheikh Ibn Baz and Sheikh ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on them).
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.