What is the ruling of swallowing the residue of phlegm inside of the mouth after sneezing whilst fasting? Hope for an explanation.
The fasting of a person who swallows the residue of his phlegm due to sneezing or coughing is invalidated if the phlegm is at the inner part of the mouth or inside the mouth. While if the phlegm is at the inner part of the uvula and under, then his fasting does not be invalidated if he swallows the phlegm because it is hard for him to spit it out.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Verily, there are matters that should be taken care of whilst fasting. This is because among invalidators of fasting is by throwing out or taking out something from the stomach intentionally on the daytime of Ramadhan. In fact, the Prophet PBUH said as narrated by Abu Hurairah on the ruling of throwing out for people who are fasting:
مَنْ ذَرَعَهُ اَلْقَيْءُ فَلَا قَضَاءَ عَلَيْهِ, وَمَنْ اسْتَقَاءَ فَعَلَيْهِ اَلْقَضَاءُ
“Whoever cannot help himself and vomits does not have to make up for the day, but whoever vomits intentionally must make up the day.”
Sunan Ibn Majah (1676)
Based on the issue, sneezing is releasing air particles abruptly and strongly from the nose and mouth due to having a cold, allergy, and reaction upon any stimulus through the respiratory channel. While phlegm is a liquid or fluid which discharges from the throat or brain. (Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka)
Generally, the ruling of forcing out the phlegm whether it originates from the brain or chest does not invalidate one’s fasting according to the scholars of madhhab al-Shafi’e. However, the ruling of a fasting person swallowing the phlegm is different whether it comes after sneezing or coughing and it depends on the area where the phlegm is situated as the following:
- Zahir limitation (outer part)
The outer part for mouth cavity refers to the place of pronouncing the letter (خ) and (ح), while the inner part for the cavity is based on the place of pronouncing the letter (ه) and (ء). So, if the phlegm is situated inside of the mouth, one’s fasting is invalidated if he swallows the phlegm. This is mentioned by Imam al-Syirbini in his book al-Iqna’.
فَلَو نزلت من دماغه وحصلت فِي حد الظَّاهِر من الْفَم وَهُوَ مخرج الْخَاء الْمُعْجَمَة وَكَذَا الْمُهْملَة على الرَّاجِح فِي الزَّوَائِد فليقطعها من مجْراهَا وليمجها إِن أمكن فَإِن تَركهَا مَعَ الْقُدْرَة على ذَلِك فوصلت الْجوف أفطر
“If the phlegm discharges from the brain and enters the outer part of the mouth which is the place of pronouncing the letter kha’ (خ) and ha’ (ح) according to the strong opinion, so he shall not leave the phlegm until it reaches the inner part thus invalidate his fasting”
(Refer al-Iqna’ Fi Hil al-Alfaz Abi Syuja’: c1/pg337)
- Batin limitation (inner part)
If it is found that the phlegm is at the inner part which is other than the outer part in the mouth cavity, so it does not invalidate the fasting. Imam al-Nawawi stated on the ruling in his book:
إِنْ لَمْ تَحْصُلْ فِي حَدِّ الظَّاهِرِ مِنَ الْفَمِ، فَلَا تَضُرُّ، وَإِنْ حَصَلَتْ فِيهِ بِانْصِبَابِهَا مِنَ الدِّمَاغِ فِي الثُّقْبَةِ النَّافِذَةِ مِنْهُ إِلَى أَقْصَى الْفَمِ فَوْقَ الْحُلْقُومِ، نُظِرَ، إِنْ لَمْ يَقْدِرْ عَلَى صَرْفِهَا وَمَجِّهَا حَتَّى نَزَلَتْ إِلَى الْجَوْفِ. لَمْ تَضُرُّ
“If the phlegm does not reach the outer part from the mouth, so it does not affect one’s fasting, and if the phlegm enters the mouth as it discharges from the brain through a small passage from the head reaching to the mouth which is upper from the uvula, so it is determined (based on several circumstances). If he is unable to take out and spit it out to enter the mouth, then it does not affect his fasting.”
(Refer Raudhah al Tolibin: c2/pg360)
In conclusion, the ruling of fasting of a person who swallows the residue of his phlegm due to sneezing or coughing is invalidated if the phlegm is at the inner part of the mouth or inside the mouth. While if the phlegm is at the inner part of the uvula and under, then his fasting does not be invalidated if he swallows the phlegm because it is hard for him to spit it out.
- Ibnu Majah Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad bin Yazid al Quzwaini. Sunan Ibnu Majah. 1431H. Tahqiq: Muhammad Fuad Abdul Baqi. Dar al Ihya’ al Kutub al ‘Arabiyyah. C1, PG536.
- Abu Zakaria Muhyiddin Yahya bin Sharaf an-Nawawi. 1412H/1991M. Edition: 3. Raudhah al Tolibin. Tahqiq: Zuhair al Syawish. Al Maktab al-Islami: Beirut.
- Khatib al Syirbini. al-Iqna’ Fi Hil al-Alfaz Abi syuja’. 1431H. Tahqiq: Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat. Dar al Fikr: Beirut.