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Last Updated: 2009/09/17
Summary of question
My wife and I had sexual intercourse while we were fasting. What are we supposed to do and what is the Islamic law?
My wife and I had sexual intercourse while we were fasting. What are we supposed to do and what is the Islamic law?
Concise answer
Your fast is void and if you did not know, due to inculpable ignorance [jahl-e qusuri], that sexual intercourse invalidates the fast, only the qadha of the fast is obligatory on you.  You must keep the qadha of the fast after the holy month of Ramadhan. However, if you knew the ruling and the Islamic law about the issue[i], it is mandatory to keep the qadha and also give Kaffara (atonement).[ii]
It is necessary to note that there are nine acts which invalidate fast. They are the following:
  1. Eating and drinking
  2. Sexual intercourse
  3. Masturbation (Istimna) which means self abuse, resulting in ejaculation
  4. Ascribing false things to Almighty Allah, or his Prophet or to the successors of the Holy Prophet
  5. Swallowing thick dust
  6. Immersing one's complete head in water
  7. Remaining in Janabat or Haidh or Nifas till the Adhan for Fajr prayers
  8. Enema with liquids
  9. Vomiting [iii]

[i] If a person commits, due to ignorance, an act which invalidates the fast, and if it was within his means and ability to learn the issue (culpable ignorance), he should, as an obligatory precaution, give the Kaffara. And if he could learn the issue or he could not notice it or he was sure that a certain thing/ act does not invalidate the fast (inculpable ignorance), it is not obligatory on him to give Kaffara. (Tawazih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.1, p. 927, issue No. 1659. For further information in this regard, refer to question 2668 (site: 3319).
[ii] Tawazih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.1, p. 935, issue No. 1678. If a man who is fasting in the month of Ramadhan has sexual intercourse with his wife who is also fasting and if he has compelled her for that, he should give Kaffarah for his own fast and as a precaution, also for his wife's. And if she had wilfully consented to the sexual intercourse, a Kaffarah becomes obligatory on each of them.
[iii]  Tawazih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.1, p.891, issue No. 1572.
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