Question: Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I read in a book written on Ramadan that if a man has forced his wife to have sex during 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:
It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah, so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous. (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)
See Also: kissing in Ramadan
I am most inclined to adopt 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.