Does a cervical smear test invalidate one’s fast?
The general principle in the Hanafi School of Sunni Islamic law (based on the Qur’an and Sunna) is that inserting medicine, water or anything else into the anus or internal part of a female’s vagina invalidates the fast, since both are deemed passageways through which a substance enters the stomach (jawf) and digestive system.
Imam al-Kasani (Allah have mercy on him), the classical Hanafi jurist, states:
“As for inserting medicine into a woman’s vagina, our [Hanafi] scholars have stated that her fast is invalidated by consensus, because there is an opening in her bladder which results in the substance reaching the stomach…” (Bada’i al-Sana’i, 2/93)
It is stated in Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“If one inserts medicine via a suppository into the anus (ihtiqan)… the fast is invalidated, although there is no expiation/Kaffara [but merely a make-up/qadha]… And a fast is invalidated by inserting [medicine or water] into a woman’s vagina.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/204)
“If one inserts a finger into the anus, or a woman inserts her finger into her vagina, the fast is not invalidated unless the finger was wet with water, oil [or the like], in which case the fast is invalidated due to the water or oil reaching inside the body.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/204)
Furthermore, the renowned classical Hanafi jurists, Imam al-Haskafi and Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on them) state that the complete insertion of a solid substance such as a stick or instrument into the anus [or vagina] such that it disappears fully into the orifice also invalidates one’s fast. (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/397)
Based on these texts from classical Hanafi sources, inserting anything wet with water, oil or the like, even a wet finger, inside a woman’s vagina, the distance to the size of a suppository, invalidates the fast. Likewise, the complete insertion of a solid substance, such that it disappears fully into the orifice, invalidates the fast.
In view of this, according to the view of classical Hanafi jurists (fuqaha), a cervical smear test would invalidate a woman’s fast, since it involves inserting a lubricated speculum fully into her vagina.
However, some contemporary Hanafi scholars, such as Shaykh Mufti Rafi’ Usmani, are of the view that a smear test does not invalidate the fast. They state that the verdict of early Hanafi scholars was based on the impression that there is a connection between a woman’s vagina and urinary system and her digestive system, and as such, anything inserted into the vagina would inevitably reach her stomach. However, modern medical research clearly denies there being any connection between the two. (Rafi’ Usmani, Dabit al-Mufattirat p, 33-34)
This position can be followed as a sound position within the Hanafi School. Thus, a female may take a smear test whilst fasting without it affecting her fast, Insha Allah. However, due to the difference of opinion, it would be best to delay the test until after Ramadhan, if possible.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK