Dear respected Shaykh, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. What is the penalty for a man who has sexual relations with his wife during the day in Ramadan?
رجل جامع زوجته في نهار رمضان، فماذا عليه؟
Praise be to Allah, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and his companions. Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. As to what follows: In response to your question, we say: Having sexual intercourse during the day in Ramadan is one of the greatest nullifiers of fasting. Allah the Exalted said, “So now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you (offspring)” [al-Baqarah 2: 187]. Allah is indicating sexual intercourse in this verse. “and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)” [al-Baqarah 2: 187]. He said, “then complete your fast till the nightfall.” [al-Baqarah 2: 187]. This means that during fasting these three things are prohibited including sexual intercourse. This is a matter of consensus among the scholars. The hadith states, “Hehas abstained from food and drink, and sexual pleasures for My sake” [al-Bukhari (1894) and Muslim (1151)], and the one who has sexual relations with his wife has no left sexual pleasure. Sexual intercourse is the greatest nullifier of fasting because a hadith transmitted in the Sahihain heavily censured it. The hadith was transmitted by Humayd ibn ‘Abdir-rahman on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he narrated: “A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “I am destroyed.” He asked him: “What has destroyed you?”, that is, “What has caused your destruction?”. He said: “I had intercourse with my wife in Ramadan during the day” [al-Bukhari (1936)]. This statement was affirmed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he did not say to him, “No, you are not destroyed. Nothing except goodness has befallen you. There is no problem with you, this nullifier of fasting is like the other things which nullify fast”. Rather, the Prophet (peace be upon him) affirmed this description, and overlooked it and asked him about the solution . “Then he said, “Can you free a slave?” He said, “No”. The Prophet (peace be upon him), “Can you fast consecutively for sixty days?” The man said, “No.” [al-Bukhari (1936)]. Thus in this way, the three stages of expiation would have been covered, starting with freeing a slave, and that is freeing a person from slavery, whether the freed person is a man or a woman. This is achieved by financial capability, if a person has the money to do so, or if he possesses a slave who can be freed. If a person has money but he cannot a find a slave to set free, he moves to the second stage of expiation, and that is fasting for sixty consecutive days. Consecutive fasting means that he does not break this fast for an invalid reason. However, if a person gets sick during this fast, or the fast coincides with Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, or the days of Tashreeq, then he may break his fast because of these reasons and there is no problem. Similarly, if a woman menstruates during this type of fast there is no problem (i.e., she has to stop fasting until her menses are over). This is because all the reasons which permit breaking fast in Ramadan also permit breaking the fast in which consecutiveness is a condition. Travelling is also included among the valid excuses. The third thing that comes after this stage: is that if a person cannot do the first two stages of expiation then he should feed sixty poor persons. Feeding is achieved by providing a poor person with a sufficient meal , either lunch or supper, whether it is cooked food or providing him with uncooked food. This is what concerns expiation. With this we inform the person who has sexual intercourse during the day in Ramadan that he should, firstly, repent to Allah for his actions. Then he should strive to expiate for breaking his fast, and the expiation was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in its stages according to their order. After that -according to the majority of the scholars- he should fast a day to make up the day that he broke his fast. The scholars support this view by a hadith which was transmitted in Sunan ibn Majah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “and fast a day to make up for it” [Sunan ibn Majah (1671)]. However, this narration is not an authentic narration from the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), thus the memorizers of hadith did not mention it. This indicates that this narration is anomalous, and this is the ruling of the critical researching scholars like Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him). This is the second opinion in the issue: that making up for that day will not benefit the person who had sexual relations whilst fasting in Ramadan. This applies to everyone who deliberately breaks his fast. Thus whoever breaks his fast deliberately will not benefit by making up for it. Rather, he should repent to Allah because of this annulment of the fast. He should engage in many good deeds including fasting so as to redress the deficiency caused by annulling the fasting of that day. Therefore, it is incumbent for a person who has sexual intercourse whilst fasting in Ramadan to observe these issues which we have discussed. I say, “It is important to avoid the cause of danger. We should not go too far with the preliminaries of sex so to avoid engaging in things which have dire consequences, and cause destruction. Some people because they do not go to bed except after Fajr may overindulge in embracing, kissing and so on, from the things which happen between husband and wife, and this will lead them to engage in prohibited sexual relations.” Therefore, I say, “If a person cannot control himself he should take preventive measures to guard against annulment of his fast. This is indicated by a hadith in the Sahihayn by ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her” who narrated, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to kiss and embrace (his wives) while he was fasting.” [al-Bukhari (1927) and Muslim (1106)]. Then she showed an impressive difference, and a matter which should be considered so that we do not say, “We have a perfect example in the Prophet (peace be upon him) because he kissed his wives.” ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “and he had more power to control his desires than any of you.” This indicates that whoever does not have this quality, and cannot control himself and is overpowered by sexual desire, whether the person is a man or woman, they should desist from overindulging in the preliminaries of sex because the means have the rulings of the end results and goals. Thus if the means lead to an unlawful matter they should be prohibited because they are illegal, because they lead to what Allah and his Apostle prohibited.