Question # 513: Salam, I unfortunately committed zina 10 years ago, but I have repented elhamdullah and changed my life. I just remembered that I may have committed zina one time in Ramadan, but I am not sure if it was during the day or at night. I am trying to remember, but I cannot. It is making me very anxious. Do I have to do the 60-day fasting kafarrah for that day? I am not sure and I completely forgot if it was during the day or at night. A lot of scholars say I should just repent and remain away from the sin, but many say I have to fast 60 days. The problem is that I cannot remember at all if it was for sure it happened or not. This was 10 years ago. please advise me 🙁 jazakallah khair
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: There is absolutely no doubt that Zina is one of the major sins and breaks the fasting, and that in Ramadan it is a greater sin. The expiation is to free a slave; if that is not possible then one has to fast for two consecutive months; if one is unable to do that, then sixty poor persons must be fed. One has to abide by that sequence and not to move to the option of fasting unless one is unable to free a slave, and not to move to the option of feeding unless one is unable to fast. The same ruling of expiation applies to the woman if she did that willingly.
However, if you do not remember if the act was committed during Ramadan or during the day or night of Ramadan and there is some doubt concerning that, expiation is not required. The rulings do not become obligatory when there is doubt, based on the Islamic Legal maxim: Al-yaqin la yazul de ash-shakk” (Certainty is not overruled by doubt). But you must repent for having done a forbidden action.
Long Answer: There is absolutely no doubt that Zina is one of the major sins and breaks the fasting, and that in Ramadan it is a greater sin. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And come not near the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily it is a fahishah (i.e., anything that transgresses its limits; a great sin) and an evil way (that leads one to Hell) unless Allah forgives him/her.” (Soorah Al-‘Isra, 17:32)
Nevertheless, when a person is faced with this problem, he must do the following three things:
- He must repent to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) from these two grave major sins, namely the shameful deed and deliberately breaking the fast, [if it was committed] during the day in Ramadan. However, if one truthfully repents, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) will turn to him in mercy and change his bad deeds into good deeds, as He (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated – Except for those who repent, believe, and do righteous work. For them, Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful” (Soorah al-Furqaan, 25:68-70)
- He must make up the day on which he broke the fast.
- He must offer expiation, which is to free a slave. If that is not possible, then he must fast for two consecutive months. If he cannot do that, then he must feed sixty poor persons, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhari from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: Whilst we were sitting with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), a man came to him and said: O Messenger of Allah, I am doomed! He said: “What is the matter with you?” He said: I had intercourse with my wife whilst I was fasting. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) asked: “Can you afford to free a slave?” He said: No. He said: “Are you able to fast for two consecutive months?” He said: No. He said: “Can you afford to feed sixty poor persons?” he said: No. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) paused for a while, and whilst we were like that, a large basket of dates was brought to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). He said: “Where is the one who was asking?” The man said: I am here. He said: “Take it and give it in charity.” The man said: To someone poorer than me, O Messenger of Allah? By Allah, there is no family between the two lava fields [i.e., in Madinah] who is poorer than my family. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) smiled so broadly that his eye-teeth became visible, then he said: “Feed your family with it.”
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The expiation (kafaarah) becomes a binding obligation upon one who has intercourse in the front or back passage in Ramadan deliberately, whether he ejaculates or not, according to the view of the majority of scholars. (al-Mughni)
[Furthermore,] it was stated in Al-Mawsoo‘ah Al-Fiqhiyyah: “There is no difference of opinion among scholars that sexual intercourse invalidates the fasting of the woman because it is one of the things that break the fasting. Thus, the man and the woman are the same in that regard. However, scholars hold different opinions regarding the obligation of expiation upon the woman. Abu Hanifah, Maalik, Ash-Shaafi‘i in one of his opinions, and Ahmad in one narration (from him) which is the adopted opinion of the Hanbali scholars, hold that expiation is obligatory upon her as well because she broke the fasting of Ramadan by intercourse and thus the expiation becomes obligatory upon her like the man… According to one of the opinions of Ash-Shaafi‘i which is the most correct (in the Shaafi‘i school) and another narration from Ahmad, she does not have to offer expiation because the Prophet (saws), ordered the man who had sexual intercourse in Ramadan to free a slave while he did not order the woman to do anything although he knew that she shared the violation with him, and because intercourse is his action while she is the one who received the action. In another opinion of the Shaafi‘i scholars, expiation is obligatory upon her but the man bears it.” It is also stated in Al-Mawsoo‘ah Al-Fiqhiyyah that “the same applies to the woman if she did that willingly.”
[Remember], this expiation is mentioned in order of preference, according to the majority of fuqaha’, so it is not permissible to feed poor persons for one who is able to fast.
[Last but the not least, if you do not remember, if the act was committed during Ramadan or during the day or night of Ramadan and] there is some doubt concerning that, expiation is not required, because rulings do not become obligatory when there is doubt [based on the Islamic Legal maxim: Al-yaqin la yazul de ash-shakk” (Certainty is not overruled by doubt)]. But you must repent for having done a forbidden action.
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamweb.net, a website belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar; and
- The book “Al-Qawa’id Al-Fiqhiyyah (Legal Maxims of Islamic Jurisprudence) by Mishkah University)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.