Question: I have three questions:
1. I follow the Hanafi Madhhab. Though I take extra care when performing an ablution, water sometimes slips down my throat unintentionally, thus breaking my fast. I have heard that it does not break the fast in the Shafi'i Madhhab. If I imitate the Shafi'i Madhhab when water slips down my throat, does it not break my fast?
2. I have a male friend who follows the Shafi'i Madhhab. He said that he had not known the rule that the fast broke if a piece of cotton was inserted into the urethra, so he put cotton into his urethra for 16 fast-days. I wonder whether he can render his fasts valid by imitating the Hanafi Madhhab.
3. My mother's tooth is constantly bleeding, and her mouth is filled with blood. Maybe blood goes into her throat while she is sleeping. Since swallowing blood invalidates the fast, how can my mother observe a fast because she sleeps after imsak time?
There are four true madhahib (pl. of madhhab) in our religion. They are true not only in word but also in practice. According to all Islamic scholars, it is permissible, even necessary, to perform an act that is difficult to do in a certain madhhab by imitating any of the other madhahib. Unfortunately, there are three groups of people today:
The first group of people reject the madhahib on the one hand, but on the other hand they act upon the madhhab that provides the easiest ruling. For example, when blood issues through their skin, they say that it does not break an ablution according to the Shafi'i Madhhab and thus they act upon this ruling. When they touch a woman, they say that it breaks an ablution in the Shafi'i Madhhab but does not break an ablution in the Hanafi Madhhab. By doing so, they do not follow a particular madhhab. It is termed talfiq, which is not permissible and is haram. This policy is ifrat (going over the limits).
The second group of people are those who are religiously ignorant; what is more, they seem to be religious. They, unlike Islamic scholars, do not accept the fact that the four madhahib are true in practice and that it is a blessing in our religion to imitate any of the other madhahib if need be or if there is an extreme necessity to do so. This policy is tafrit (dereliction).
The third group of people are those who are far from ifrat and tafrit and who take a middle path. In case of necessity, they imitate, in a manner prescribed by Islamic scholars, any of the other true madhahib for acts that are difficult to perform in their own madhahib. They are the ones who are on the true path.
Now let us answer the questions briefly:
1. When one imitates another madhhab (for an act of worship) out of necessity, one has to obey as much as possible all of the conditions that the second madhhab one is to imitate has established concerning that act of worship. One who imitates the Shafi'i Madhhab in fasting, for example, has to observe the rules that the Shafi'i Madhhab has established concerning fasting and avoid doing whatsoever the Shafi'i Madhhab has pronounced to be detrimental to the fasting. In this case, one's imitation is considered valid. If the Shafi'i Madhhab is imitated, one's fast is not broken when water slips down one's throat unintentionally during an ablution though one takes extra care with it.
2. If one who follows the Shafi'i Madhhab does not know the rule that it breaks the fast to put a piece of cotton into one's urethra and if one observes fasts in such a state and learns later that it breaks the fast, one's fasts become valid if one makes such an intention, "I observed such fasts of mine in accordance with the Hanafi Madhhab." Even if one's fasts do not meet all of the conditions that the Hanafi Madhhab has established for the validity of fasting, one is considered to have observed them according to the Hanafi Madhhab as there is no other way out; that is, there is an extreme necessity for it. Similarly, if one performs namaz for years without knowing the fact that a dental filling is an obstacle to a ghusl in the Hanafi Madhhab and if one learns later the truth and says, "I performed those namazes of mine according to the Maliki Madhhab," one's namazes become valid. Even if one's namazes do not meet all of the conditions that the Maliki Madhhab has established for the validity of a namaz, one is considered to have performed them according to the Maliki Madhhab as there is no other way out; that is, there is an extreme necessity for it.
3. The rules and regulations concerning those that arise beyond one's own choice and break the fast are different in each madhhab. For example, water's going down the throat unintentionally when one is performing an ablution does not break the fast in the Shafi'i Madhhab. In the Hanafi Madhhab, it does not break the fast if dust, smoke, or a fly goes into ones throat through ones mouth or nose involuntarily or if one cannot prevent the smoke of others cigarettes from going into ones mouth and nose. In the Hanbali Madhhab, cases that arise beyond one's own choice, such as swallowing blood involuntarily, do not break the fast. If one who has such a problem imitates the Hanbali Madhhab, one's fasts become valid.
Intention for the whole month
Question: At the beginning of Ramadan I intended to fast for the whole month. Then I observed my fasts without making intention. I learnt later on that it was necessary to make a separate intention for each fast-day. Do I have to make up (qada) for those fasts?
It is necessary to make a separate intention every day, but one does not have to state it by tongue. For example, getting up for pre-dawn (sahur) meal is considered an intention. Having such a thought in one's mind "I will fast tomorrow" is considered an intention, too. The one who goes to one's bed having the intention of getting up for pre-dawn meal and fasting is considered to have made the intention for the fast, even if one cannot get up for pre-dawn meal. If you do not have similar things that can be considered an intention, you can imitate the Maliki Madhhab then. According to the Maliki Madhhab, it suffices to intend for the whole month at the beginning of Ramadan. If you say now, "I performed those fasts according to the Maliki Madhhab," you do not have to make up for those fasts. Or if you say, "I performed those fasts according to Imam-i Zufar," your fasts are considered valid as well.
Having an enema breaks the fast
Question: I am sick, yet I can fast. I suffer from severe constipation. While fasting, I can go out only after having an enema in the daytime. But having an enema invalidates the fast. In such a case, do I have to offer qada (make up for a broken fast, re-fasting of that day later) or kaffarah (expiation)?
You have to offer only a qada fast. When we encounter such trouble, if any of the four true madhahib shows us a way out, we should imitate that madhhab in order to eliminate our trouble and not to skip our acts of worship. For instance, having an enema does not break the fast in the Maliki Madhhab. Since you are sick, you can imitate the Maliki Madhhab and have an enema and continue your fast.
Forgetting the intention in the Shafi'i Madhhab
Question: I follow the Shafi'i Madhhab. Last night I slept without making the intention. When I woke up, the sun has risen. In the Shafi'i Madhhab it is a requirement for the validity of fasting to make intention before imsak time. In this case, am I allowed to imitate the Hanafi Madhhab and to continue my fast?
Surely, you should imitate it. You should observe the fast also according to the Hanafi Madhhab only on that day. It suffices to say, "Today I observe my fast according to the Hanafi Madhhab."
Question: I performed fasts without having a valid ghusl because of my fillings. Is it necessary for me to say, "I performed according to the Shafi'i Madhhab (or the Maliki Madhhab) the ghusls that I took in the years when I observed fasts"?
Yes, you must both make repentance and say this formulation.
Women and fasting
Question: If a fasting woman inserts her finger into her front or back passage when there is a need to do so, is her fast nullified?
According to the Hanafi Madhhab, if her finger is dry, her fast is not nullified. If her finger is wet, her fast is nullified. According to the Shafi'i Madhhab, her fast is broken even if her finger is dry. According to the Hanbali Madhhab, her fast is not broken even if her finger is wet. When she is obliged to do so, she imitates the Hanbali Madhhab and goes on her fast.
Performing a ghusl during a fast
Question: If water goes into one's body while one is performing a ghusl to remove sexual impurity, does it break one's fast?
It breaks the fast if water goes into the body. In the Hanbali Madhhab, however, even if one goes into the sea to have a ghusl and thus water enters one's body through one's mouth, nose, or front or back passage, it still does not break one's fast. Therefore, if we imitate the Hanbali Madhhab to make our fasts valid when we encounter such situations that happen outside our control, our fasts are not broken.