Inhaled bronchodilator medic. breaks the fast
several people have asked this: do the fast break with bronchodilator
inhalation medications? the medicine is aerosolized and is inhaled into
lungs, not swallowed into the stomach and have no nutritional value. now
there are mufti's in Pakistan who say that it breaks the fast. i think it
because they dont understand the concept of an inhaled medication. there
already fatwa's for allowing intramuscular antibiotic medications during
fasting and why should this be any different. in other words, what
constitutes the break of a fast in Fiqh?
The reasoning about the inhalator would apply to cigarettes as well,
over which there is consensus that they break the fast. The allowance of
intramuscular and intraveinous medications is similar to the allowance
of eyedrops, i.e. eyes and veins are not considered to be among the
normal openings of the body (although, even in the latter perspective,
certain tooth and gum medications have been allowed--an inhalator
dispensation might go the same route, not sure). Contrariwise, it has
also been replied that injections do break the fast if consisting in
sedative, or glucose.
About the inhaled bronchodilator medication; the issues are these:
1. since there is no "Nass" from the Quran and Sunnah in this matter, so
becomes an "Ijtihadi" matter. however, for proper Ijtihad, the Mujtahid
has to know the physical nature of the object under discussion. i can
you without doubt that most Mufti's in pakistan have very rudimentary and
inadequate understanding of modern medical issues and so they err on the
side of safety by declaring several new issues haram.
2. for an asthmatic patient who has to use life long inhaled medications,
this means that they will be denied the barakat of Ramadan forever. the
issue of cigarettes is different because one, that is a bad (qabiha and
the opinion of several shafie scholars, Haram) habit and second, with
health risks. so it should not be in the same category as an inhaled
3. following the statement of Ibn-Abbas RAA when asked about, "Miswak
in the mouth breaking the fast", he said, "does the taste of water in the
mouth (for Wudu) break the fast? and if not, why should miswak do". so if
the medicine goes straight to the lungs and into the blood stream and not
the stomach and has no nutritional content whatsoever, why should the
some knowledgeable scholars in Pakistan have allowed the inhaled
based on personal ijtihad.
1. Whether or not muftis anywhere--and not just in Pakistan--have "very
rudimentary and inadequate understanding of modern medical issues"
should not distract us from the fact that a foreign substance (jawhar)
that is wilfully brought through the mouth from outside the body into
the inside (jawf) of the body breaks the fast, whether in solid, liquid
or gaseous form. You yourself have conceded that the medicine
"is inhaled into the lungs" and the latter are an internal organ. Hence
the response given by the Hanafi Fiqh teacher Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman
Ghawji al-Albani in his book Arkan al-Islam (2:620) very clearly
states that "the issue is the arrival of aerosol, and whatever liquid
turns to aerosol, into the lungs, namely the internal organ. As soon as
it arrives, the status is that of breaking the fast; if it does not
arrive inside, then there is no iftar."
2. The Hanbali fiqh scholar Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti
similarly noted that the bronchodilator vapor is essentially water being
brought into the system and that there is Ijma` (Consensus) that even
one drop of medicine dropped into the gullet breaks the fast, its being
nutritive or not being meaningless. See the Arabic text here:
The Sharia does not call for splitting hairs in order to be applied with
clarity and peace of mind and, in this respect, the notion that
something needs to be a nutrient to form a mufattir (fast-breaker) is an
invented notion. I believe there is confusion or false qiyas here with
the rule that a non-nutritive fast-breaking requires only qada' but
Note that he also draws the comparison of vapor and aerosol being no
different from cigarette smoke with respect to being a distinct
substance brought into the body through one of its natural openings.
More on this below.
3. True, some Saudi scholars have allowed the inhaled medications for
someone fasting based on their personal ijtihad, as has at least one
pulmonary physician in Saudi Arabia. See:
Since such goes against the mainstream position, its supporters have
provided the weakest reasoning and excuses, such as analogy with the
water residue that may reach the stomach from wudu' and siwak;
or the "non-nutritive needle inserted for a phlebotomy"! This was cited
by the Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, whose fatwa is that it *does*
break the fast. See:
Those who say it does not break the fast apparently want every asthmatic
to fast like everyone else as if they were not ill. But such is far from
the mainstream position, rather it is, in fairness, a fringe position.
4. At any rate, all this shows why it is far from clear exactly how
those described as "erring on the side of precaution" are erring at all!
Regardless, precaution is a reality and a priority in the Shariaa, so it
is by default better than erring on the side of incaution, let alone
when there is no erring at all but a mainstream stance on the one hand
and a fringe stance on the other as far as one can see.
5. A very important misgiving is the notion that if one is too sick to
fast, "they will be denied the barakat of Ramadan forever." On the
contrary! Allah Most High has made it possible even for those who cannot
fast in Ramadan due to sickness to get the full reward of those who fast
How? Well, because actions are according to intentions, not
according to results; and the medical inability to fast is a valid
excuse not to, provided we follow the required course in such cases,
namely, to give daily sadaqa as fidya for our fast. So, in addition to
the reward of fasting, we also get an additional reward of sadaqa, plus
we help our fellow man. This is exactly why, as the Prophet, upon
him blessings and peace, said, "Allah Most High LOVES that His
dispensations (rukhas) be followed JUST AS HE LOVES that His strict
requirements be followed." Yet many people tend to over-emphasize
strictness and dismiss dispensation as uninformed or even irreligious.
6. As for the cigarettes being bad there is no debate, but it is a
completely separate issue. The pivot of proof in this particular
discussion is wilful inhalation and this is why the comparison is
extremely apt. This is something everybody understands. Even those who
reject the haramness and even makruh aspect of cigarette smoking still
agree that inhaling cigarette smoke constitutes a breach of the fast;
and thus hardened Muslim smokers all over the world will refrain from
smoking in Ramadan only because of that, not because of it being qabih,
harmful or what not. Even Christians in Arab countries know this in
If you walk into a flour mill and deliberately inhale a cloud of flour
it will break the fast also; so will deliberately sniffing incense
for that matter--lest the nutrition aspect is brought up
again--and all this is mentioned in the books of fiqh.
7. There is no doubt in my mind that an inhalator-dependent asthmatic
who might die if deprived of the inhalator for too long, ails from an
illness and has a valid excuse not to fast, even a lifelong excuse. I
wonder if anyone denies this? Yet, so many people with valid and patent
excuses not to fast, doubt the rahma granted by Allah and refuse His
bounties in the form of reward for valid intentions, insisting that they
must and will fast in order for those bounties to reach them, i.e. Allah
Most High is unable to bless them otherwise--subhan Allah. So you will
see diabetics, for example, rejecting their doctors' advice not to fast
and going ahead at the risk of possibly fatal hypoglycemia.
(See, e.g., http://www.al-inaam.com/library/DFASTING.HTM )
Allah Most High is not in need of such worshippers' misgivings about His
dispensations, nor of their audacity with the gifts of health and life.
And the saddest thing is to see doctors themselves deciding to be
complicitous in this course, modifying the parameters of the Law in the
name of ease or strictness (I am not sure which!), then gainsaying
muftis for doing their job consciously and competently, just because the
latter are not physicians! All this either shows a kind of hidden
self-reliance and pride, or, at the very least, greater ignorance and
misplaced piety than anything people accuse muftis of.
8. A possible solution could be for those using the inhalator and
insisting that they want to fast to go ahead and fast, but at the same
time to meet the daily fidya requirements of those who are excused from
fasting, thus bringing over precaution to their side and setting their
mind at rest. This way they both get the pleasure and socialization of
fasting as well as ensure that their worship is 100% correct in sha
Allah and valid by the criteria of all schools, short of which the
shubha remains and, with it, at best, the suspicion of an invalid fast.
And Allah Most High knows best.