Recent developments in technology usher in new fatwas
By Soha Soliman
When in 2001 Egypt’s Grand Mufti issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, that the show Man Sayarbah el-Milyon? was un-Islamic, viewers were a little baffled that a TV game show could unleash the wrath of God. The Sheikh of Al Azhar at the time later rejected the fatwa, finding that there was no objection to such shows since they spread general knowledge. Yet the debate over how halal or haram technology and products designed for entertainment remains fresh. Egypt Today consulted Dar Al Ifta and other experts for answers to today’s common Ramadan questions.
Are Facebook and Twitter haram in Ramadan?
According to Dar Al-Ifta’s fatwa hotline, going on social networks is not haram, but spending too much time on them might waste valuable time that could otherwise be spent on worship, work or attaining knowledge. Also beware that looking at inappropriate content might risk invalidating your fast. There are no restrictions if the content displayed is educational or related to work or worship.
Can you take your phone or tablet to the toilet?
In his book Fatawa, the late Sheikh Mohamed Metwali El Shaarawi wrote that it is not permissible to take books or newspapers that might contain Allah’s name or Qu’ranic verses into the bathroom. Some of the posts on social networks do contain religious materials and therefore reading these posts in the bathroom is by default haram. It is also disliked to spend more time than necessary in the bathroom. Reading, browsing the internet or going on social network websites likely prolongs your stay in the bathroom, which is religiously disliked.
Can you go to the gym in Ramadan?
Playing sports or going to the gym are useful because they help your body gain and retain its strength and endurance. Exercise is also the perfect activity to occupy the body and mind in your free time ― as long as it does not cause you too much exhaustion that might prevent you from fasting or tempt you to break the fast.
Is it wrong for fasting people to spend most of their day in Ramadan watching movies and soap operas, reading or playing cards?
Shaarawi wrote that one should beware of watching movies that feature nudity, obscenity or indecent story lines and dialogues. Also, one should be careful not to waste too much of one’s valuable time that could be spent on worship, work or attaining knowledge. Religious scholars agree that fasting is not only abstaining from food and drink, but also from obscenities, temptations and lusts. Reading is not haram, but while the Qu’ran and religious books should be your primary reading material, reading other books that are inspiring and that serve in expanding your horizons, knowledge or spirituality is permissible.
Can you sleep all day long during Ramadan?
According to Sheikh Mohamed Hasaan, a famous Islamic scholar, it is not haram as long as you don’t miss any religious duties. It is preferable if you spend your time doing something productive, though.
Is your current fast accepted if you have not made up for the missed days from previous Ramadans?
According to a fatwa issued by Dar el-Iftaa, yes, the fast is accepted. However, you have to make up the missed days after the current Ramadan or feed a poor person for each day you missed making up.
Some women take pills that prevent menstruation in Ramadan so they fast the entire month. Is that permissible?
Taking these pills, after iftar of course, is permissible as long as they do not cause any current or future damage to the woman’s psychological or physical health.
If a close relative dies before making up the days they missed, can you fast for them?
According to dar el-iftaa, if a relative dies before making up the missed days of fasting, the deceased carries no debt if he had an excuse that prevented him from making up these missed days. however, if there was no valid excuse, the next of kin can perform the kaffara (loosely translated as “prescribed way of making amends”) on their behalf, but only in the form of feeding the poor for each day missed by the deceased.
Does wearing perfume or makeup invalidate your fast?
Perfume does not invalidate your fast. Make up does not invalidate your fast either, but other than kohl, should only be visible to maharim (i.e. your husband or those of kin that you cannot marry, like your father, brother, grandfather and father-in-law).
What if the dawn prayers are called while you are eating, drinking or having intercourse?
You are obliged to stop eating, drinking or having intercourse at the moment you hear the athan (call to prayer), in which case your fast is valid. In the case of intercourse, the ghusl, or the bath, can be taken after the fajr prayer is called for. If you continue eating, drinking or having sex after hearing the athan, then you are obliged to perform the kaffara for intentionally not fasting without an excuse.
Can you use nasal sprays, ear drops, eye drops and asthma inhalers while fasting?
Asthma inhalers, ear drops and nasal spray do invalidate the fast because they get into cavities that are considered orifices. However, people with chronic illnesses whose health deteriorates or stops getting better because of discontinuing of their medicines are exempt from fasting and are required instead to feed a poor person for each day missed. Eye drops, even if you can feel their taste in your mouth, are permissible because the eye is not considered a bodily orifice.
Dialysis does not break the fast because it does not go through the bodily orifices and instead takes place within arteries and veins. Taking insulin shots or normal shots in general does not invalidate the fast because these shots also do not go through the bodily orifices.
Does brushing your teeth break your fast?
Toothpaste is allowed as long as you are sure that you are not swallowing it or any water.