Is it permitted to take a COVID vaccination during the fast of Ramadan? Would getting a jab invalidate one’s fast?
According to the Hanafi School of Sunni Islamic law (based on the Qur’an and Sunna), a fast is only invalidated if all of the following four conditions are met:
1) A substance has a discernable (visible) body – regardless of its size, and whether it has nutritional and medicinal value or not.
2) The substance reaches the body cavity/digestive system (jawf), i.e. the throat, stomach or intestines, or it reaches the brain (dimagh).
3) The substance enters through the normal and recognized entry points of the body, such as the mouth, nose, ears, vagina and anus (see note below in relation to the ears and vagina).
4) The substance stays independently inside the digestive system.
All four above-mentioned conditions must be met in order for a fast to be invalidated. If any one of these is not met, the fast is not invalidated. This is addition to no excuse being present. If there is an excuse, such as forgetfulness, then the fast will not be invalidated even if all four are met. (See: Muhammad Rafi’ Usmani, Dabit al-Mufattirat p, 33-34 and other fiqh references).
Imam Ala’ al-Din al-Kasani (may Allah have mercy on him), the renowned classical Hanafi jurist, states:
“That which reaches the body cavity [i.e. digestive system] or the brain through normal openings (al-makhariq al-asliyya) such as the nose, ear and anus (dubur) – for example, one snuffed [something through the nose], entered something through the anus or infused drops in the ear, and it reached the digestive system or the brain, then one’s fast will be invalidated.” (Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/93)
Note that there is agreement on the mouth, nose and anus being invalidating entry points. As for the ear, classical jurists (fuqaha) regard it, too, as an invalidating point of entry. This is because they considered the ear to be connected with the throat. However, modern medicine negates any such connection unless there is a hole in the eardrum. Based on this, infusing drops in the ear would not invalidate a fast. This position can be followed as a sound position within the Hanafi School, though precaution would be in avoiding it unless necessary.
Similarly, classical Hanafi jurists regard the vagina as being an invalidating entry point. This is because they considered the vagina to be connected with the digestive system. As such, anything inserted into the vagina would inevitably reach her stomach. However, modern day medicine negates there being any connection between the two, as explained in a previous answer, titled ‘Does a cervical smear test invalidate one’s fast?’ This too can be acted upon, though it would be best to delay a smear test until after Ramadan. (Dabit al-Mufattirat)
In light of the above, injections, jabs and drips do not invalidate the fast under any circumstance, according to the Hanafi School. This includes those that have a nutritional value to them. A jab is normally taken in the arm, thigh, buttocks or the like, and since no substance enters the body cavity/digestive system through a recognized/invalidating entry point, the fast will not be invalidated. [It is worth noting that according to some scholars nutritive injections would invalidate a fast, thus it would be best to avoid these during Ramadan out of precaution]. (See: Mufti Muhammad Shafi’s ʿĀ’lat Jadīda ke Shar’i Ahkam P: 156)
Accordingly, a COVID-19 vaccination jab does not invalidate the fast during the blessed month of Ramadan and, therefore, in principle, it is not necessary to postpone a scheduled vaccination.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam