Does using an asthma inhaler break your fast?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

Using an asthma inhaler does break your fast. This is because inhaling something with a perceptible body intentionally will nullify the fast. Which is why smoking nullifies the fast.

فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

So whoever amongst you witnesses the month, then let him fast. But whoever is unwell or on a journey, then (make up the) number (from) other days. Allah wills ease for you and does not will hardship for you. (Surah al-Baqarah, 185).

Some people make the argument that an inhaler should not break your fast because the person requiring it is unwell. This argument is not substantiated because the general rule is that a person who is unwell is permitted to refrain from fasting or even nullify a fast. However, he will have to repeat the fast. Thus, medical need does not dictate a fast is not nullified. Rather it permits the nullification and requires Qadaa.

The Quranic verse above is clear regarding the fact that illness allows one to relinquish a fast, but it has to be made up later. Therefore, the argument that an inhaler can become a necessity and thus should not nullify the fast is contrary to the Ayah.

(أَوْ دَخَلَ حَلْقَهُ غُبَارٌ أَوْ ذُبَابٌ أَوْ دُخَانٌ) وَلَوْ ذَاكِرًا اسْتِحْسَانًا لِعَدَمِ إمْكَانِ التَّحَرُّزِ عَنْهُ، وَمُفَادُهُ أَنَّهُ لَوْ أَدْخَلَ حَلْقَهُ الدُّخَانَ أَفْطَرَ أَيَّ دُخَانٍ كَانَ وَلَوْ عُودًا أَوْ عَنْبَرًا لَهُ ذَاكِرًا لِإِمْكَانِ التَّحَرُّزِ عَنْهُ فَلْيُتَنَبَّهْ لَهُ كَمَا بَسَطَهُ الشُّرُنْبُلَالِيُّ
(قَوْلُهُ: أَنَّهُ لَوْ أَدْخَلَ حَلْقَهُ الدُّخَانَ)
 أَيْ بِأَيِّ صُورَةٍ كَانَ الْإِدْخَالُ، حَتَّى لَوْ تَبَخَّرَ بِبَخُورٍ وَآوَاهُ إلَى نَفَسِهِ وَاشْتَمَّهُ ذَاكِرًا لِصَوْمِهِ أَفْطَرَ لِإِمْكَانِ التَّحَرُّزِ عَنْهُ وَهَذَا مِمَّا يَغْفُلُ عَنْهُ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ النَّاسِ، وَلَا يُتَوَهَّمُ أَنَّهُ كَشَمِّ الْوَرْدِ وَمَائِهِ وَالْمِسْكِ لِوُضُوحِ الْفَرْقِ بَيْنَ هَوَاءٍ تَطَيَّبَ بِرِيحِ الْمِسْكِ وَشِبْهِهِ وَبَيْنَ جَوْهَرِ دُخَانٍ وَصَلَ إلَى جَوْفِهِ بِفِعْلِهِ إمْدَادٌ وَبِهِ عُلِمَ حُكْمُ شُرْبِ الدُّخَانِ. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

Imam al-Haskafi: If dust, a fly, or smoke enters his throat (the fast is not nullified). Even if he is conscious of fasting. This is Istihsaan due to the inability of avoiding it. This (ruling) dictates that if he inhaled smoke into his throat then he has nullified (his fast). Irrespective of the type of smoke. Even if it is from Oud or Amber. So long as he was conscious of the fact that he is fasting. Due to the fact that avoiding it is possible. So, pay attention. This was elucidated by (Imam) al-Shurunbulali.

Imam Ibn Abideen: His saying, If he inhaled smoke into his throat. Meaning, irrespective of how he inhaled it. Thus, if he burned Bakhoor and wafted it towards himself and then smelled it, whilst being conscious of his fast, he has nullified it. Due to it being possible to avoid it. This is something many people are heedless of. It should not be thought that this is similar to smelling a rose or its water or musk. Since the difference between air that has been fragranced with the scent of musk and the like, and the (perceptible) body of smoke that enters his cavity with his action is clear (Imdaad). Through this the ruling of smoking is known. (Radd al-Muhtaar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtaar).

In the Nass (text) above, not only does Imam Ibn Abideen clarify the ruling of inhaling smoke or anything else with a perceptible body, but he also differentiates between it and smelling scent. This difference has been highlighted by numerous Hanafi scholars.

لا يكره للصائم شم رائحة المسك والورد ونحوه مما لا يكون جوهرا متصلا كالدخان. (مراقي الفلاح شرح متن نور الإيضاح)

It is not Makruh for a fasting person to smell Musk or a rose and the like, as long as they do not have a connected perceptible body like smoke. (Imam Hasan bin Amaar al-Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah).

The difference between smoke or anything with a perceptible body entering and inserting it is also highlighted in numerous works of the Hanafi Madhab, which is different to food and drink. In the case of food and drink, the fast is nullified even if it is swallowed inadvertently. As for smoke and the like, inadvertently inhaling it does not nullify the fast. However, one must stay away from places where it is abundant, unless there is a requirement for one to be there.

لو وجد بدا من تعاطى ما يدخل غباره في حلقه أفسد لو فعل اهـ ويدل عليه التعليل بعدم إمكان الاحتراز. (حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح)

If he was able to avoid a place in which dust will enter his throat, but he went along anyway, then his fast is nullified. This is supported by the fact that the legal reason (for the fast not being nullified) is because it is not possible to avoid. (Imam Ahmad bin Muhamad al-Tahtawi, Haashiyah ala Maraaqi al-Falah).

وَهَذَا يُفِيدُ أَنَّهُ إذَا وَجَدَ بُدًّا مِنْ تَعَاطِي مَا يُدْخِلُ غُبَارَهُ فِي حَلْقِهِ أَفْسَدَ لَوْ فَعَلَ شُرُنْبُلَالِيَّةٌ. (رد المحتار)

If he was able to avoid a place in which dust will enter his throat, but he went along anyway, then his fast is nullified (Shurunbulaliyah). (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

If a person is in dire need of an inhaler or the like, then he should use it. Although the fast will be nullified, there will be no sin upon him. Rather it may have been obligatory to use it, depending on the severity of the case. This person will now be required to fast a single day in place of this nullified fast.

And Allah Most High Knows Best

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (29.03.2023)

-Answer approved by
Shaykh Mazin Bakeer (Damascus).
Shaykh Khalid Kharsa (Damascus, Istanbul).
Shaykh Muwafaq al-Marabi (Damascus, Istanbul).

Shaykh Abd al-Salam Shannar (Damascus, Cairo). He also conveyed from his Shaykh, the Scholar and Imam of the Umayyad Masjid, Shaykh Abd al-Razaaq al-Halabi, who was the jurist of Damascus, that it (the inhaler) does nullify the fast.

See also:
Does an injection break your fast?

See also (video):