Sawm: Its Nullification

In Islam, sawm means to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset.

The acts which nullify (break) Sawm

  • In Islam, sawm means to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. There are a number of things from which the fasting person should abstain.
    If the fasting person does any of these acts the Sawm for that day will be nullified. It is therefore important for the fasting person to be aware of the things that nullify Sawm.
  • The following acts nullify the fast. If a fasting person deliberately eats or drinks, his Sawm will be invalidated and he must make up for that day. However, if it was done unintentionally, his Sawm remains valid and he should continue to fast.
  • If the fasting person is forced to eat or drink or does so by mistake or due to forgetfulness, his Sawm remains valid.
    He does not have to make up for that day. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever forgets he is fasting, and eats or drinks is to complete his Sawm, as it was Allah who fed him and made him drink”. If a person eats out of forgetfulness, he should stop eating immediately when he remembers that he is fasting, otherwise his Sawm will be invalid and he will have to make up for it. Intentional vomiting nullifies the Sawm. If the fasting person vomits unintentionally his sawm does not break. He should continue to fast and there is no need to make up for that day’s Sawm.If the fasting person has the intention to break the Sawm, his Sawm is invalidated even if he did not eat or drink anything. Having an intention is one of the pillars of sawm, therefore the Sawm breaks if the intention changes. Similarly if a person turns away from Islam and becomes a disbeliever, his Sawm is also nullified. If a fasting person swallows anything which is neither food nor drink, such as a gem or string, it breaks the Sawm. Therefore, it is advisable for a fasting person not to put anything in his mouth. However, it is recommended to use a siwaak to clean the teeth while fasting.
  • Applying eye drops does not invalidate the Sawm even if the fasting person can detect its taste in his/her throat. A fasting person may also take an injection without his Sawm being annulled.
  • A Muslim should not overdo rinsing his nose and mouth for wudoo’ whilst fasting. He/she should take care that water does not enter his/her throat through his nose or mouth. A Muslim must adhere to all the rules of Sawm and aspire to perform it carefully so that there is no chance of it being nullified. Sawm is an act of worship and must be practiced with love, care, and patience so that a Muslim draws nearer to Allah. It is necessary to make up for the annulled Sawm. The Sawm may be made up at any time when it is allowed to fast. However, it is better to do soon after Ramadaan for fear that one might forget or become negligent. Muslims should be careful not to invalidate any Sawm during the month of Ramadaan, because the blessings which are lost in this way can never be regained by fasting any amount of days in other months.

قال رسول الله ﷺ ” من أفطر يوماً مِنْ رَمَضَانَ في غَيْرِ رُخصةِ رَحْصَهَا الله له لَمْ يَقْضِ عَنْهُ صِيَامُ (رواه أبو داود)

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ , upon whom be peace, said: “Whoever breaks his fast during Ramadaan without having one of the excuses that Allah would excuse him for, then even a perpetual fast, if he were to fast it, would not make up for that day”. [Aboo Dawood]

  1. There are a few acts that nullify or break the fast (Sawm).
  2. The days that were nullified should be made up.
  3. No compensation has to be paid.

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