Forcing One’s Wife to Make Love during the Day of Ramadan

Question: Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I read in a book written on Ramadan that if a man has forced his wife to make love to him during the day of Ramadan, she is not sinful and her fasting remains valid and that the husband incurs the whole sin. Is that correct?

Jazakum Allah khayran. Answer by Sheikh Husam al-Din Ibn Musa `Afana Wa`alaykum

As-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Islam does not give a man the right to make his wife break her fast before its due time during Ramadan. So, if the husband exceeds his limits and wants to have sexual intercourse with his wife during the day of Ramadan, she should not obey him; if he forces her to do so, she is not sinful, and thus is not required to expiate for such a deed.

However, she is to make up for that day later, as her fasting has been nullified by sexual intercourse. It is the husband who is sinful in that case and is required to repent and expiate for the sin he has committed.

In his response to your question, Dr. Husam al-Din ibn Musa `Afana, a professor of Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Quds University, Palestine, states:

It is unanimously agreed upon that sexual intercourse is one of the causes that nullify fasting. Allah Almighty says:

Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques.Those are Limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 187)

Allah Most High says in a hadith qudsi: “All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it. He (the fasting person) has left his food, drink and desires for My sake.”(It is an authentic hadith reported by Ibn Khuzaymah.)

It is forbidden for a Muslim to nullify his fast or another’s fast without justification; he who does this intentionally incurs a grave sin. There is a scholarly difference as to the legal rulings concerning forcing a person to break his fast before its due time. Let’s narrow down this point to forcing one’s wife to nullify her fast by performing sexual intercourse.

The majority of jurists from the Hanafi and Maliki schools are of the opinion that if a man has forced his wife to make love to him during the day-time of a day in Ramadan, [she is not sinful, yet] she is to make up for that day later, for her fasting has been nullified by sexual intercourse. The husband is to make up for that day later and he is also to expiate such a deed. [The expiation consists of freeing a sound Muslim slave; if this is not possible, then the expiation is to fast the days of two consecutive months. If this is not possible, then the expiation is to feed sixty needy people]. This view is adopted also by a group of the Shafi`i school and a group of the Hanbali scholars.

Other groups of the Shafi`i and Hanbali scholars believe that the fast of the wife in that case remains valid, for she has broken her fast under coercion. They quote as evidence of their view the hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Allah Almighty will not call my nation to account for what they have done by (unintentional) mistake, or out of forgetfulness or under coercion.” (Reported by Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

I am most inclined to adopting the opinion that the wife forced to nullify her fast during the Day of Ramadan by sexual intercourse is to make up for that day later. This is because I believe that a wife in that case is not one hundred percent forced; her response to making love often implies some kind of agreement and sexual desire too. Besides, the concept of coercion is controversial to many people.

Allah Almighty knows best.