The Ultimate Muslim Warriors

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Who Are the Ones That Are Allowed To Break Their Fast?

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah
(swt), the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful

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  • 1) The traveller and the temporarily sick person. It is allowed for them NOT to fast but they can if they want to. They later on have to make up on the days they missed by fasting the exact number of days.

Note that the traveler’s journey should be lengthy, or else be known as travelling. The traveler should also go beyond the city and its suburbs. A person who is still in the city is “settled” and “present”.

Whoever is determined to travel in Ramadaan should not have the intention of breaking his fast until he is actually travelling, because something may happen to prevent him from setting out on his journey.

The traveler should not break his fast until he has passed beyond the inhabited houses of his town; once he has passed the city limits, he may break his fast. Similarly, if he is flying, once the plane has taken off and has gone beyond the city limits, he may break his fast.

If the sun sets and he breaks his fast on the ground, then the plane takes off and he sees the sun, he does not have to stop eating, because he has already completed his day’s fasting.

If the plane takes off before sunset and he wants to complete that day’s fasting during the journey, he should not break his fast until the sun has set from wherever he is in the air.

The pilot is not permitted to bring the plane down to an altitude from which the sun cannot be seen just for the purposes of breaking the fast, because this would just be a kind of trickery, but if he brings the plane down lower for a genuine reason, and the disk of the sun disappears as a result, then he may break his fast.

Whoever travels to a place and intends to stay there for more than four days must fast.

If a traveler passes through a city other than his own, he does not have to fast, unless his stay there is longer than four days, in which case he must fast.

A person who habitually travels is permitted not to fast if he has a home to which he returns, such as a courier who travels to serve the interests of the Muslims (and also taxi drivers, pilots and airline employees, even if their travel is daily – but they have to make up the fasts later).

The same applies to sailors who have a home on land; but if a sailor has his wife and all he needs with him on the ship, and is constantly travelling, then he is not allowed to break his fast or shorten his prayers.

If nomadic Bedouins are travelling from their winter home to their summer home, or vice versa, they are allowed to break their fast and shorten their prayers, but once they have settled in either their summer home or their winter home, they should not break their fast or shorten their prayers, even if they are following their flocks.

If a traveler arrives during the day (to be on the safe side) he should stop eating and drinking, out of respect for the month, but he has to make the day up later, whether or not he stops eating and drinking after his arrival.

If he starts Ramadaan in one city, then travels to another city where the people started fasting before him or after him, then he should follow the ruling governing the people to whom he has travelled, so he should only end Ramadaan when they end Ramadaan, even if it means that he is fasting for more than thirty days,

The Prophet (saws) said: “Fast when everyone is fasting, and break your fast when everyone is breaking their fast.”

Note that the sickness must be a proper sickness that maybe harmed or prolonged due to fasting (not some minor headache!). If it is something like a fever you are allowed to fast or break the fast.

If a person feels extreme hunger or thirst, and fears that he may die or that some of his faculties may be irreparably damaged, and has rational grounds for believing this to be so, he may break his fast and make up for it later on, because saving one’s life is obligatory but it is not permissible to break one’s fast because of bearable hardship or because one feels tired or is afraid of some imagined illness.

The sick person who hopes to recover should wait until he gets better, then make up for the fasts he has missed; he is not allowed just to feed the poor.

If a person is sick, then recovers, and is able to make up the missed fasts but does not do so before he dies, then money should be taken from his estate to feed a poor person for every day that he missed. If any of his relatives want to fast on his behalf, then this is OK.

People who work in physically demanding jobs are not permitted to break their fast, and they must have the intention at night of fasting the following day. If they cannot stop working and they are afraid that some harm may befall them during the day, or they face some extreme hardship that causes them to break their fast, then they should eat only what is enough to help them bear the hardship, then they should refrain from eating until sunset, and they have to make the fast up later.

Workers in physically demanding jobs, such as working with furnaces and smelting metals, should try to change their hours so that they work at night, or take their holidays during Ramadaan, or even take unpaid leave, but if this is not possible, then they should look for another job, where they can combine their religious and worldly duties.

Students’ exams are no excuse for breaking ones fast during Ramadaan, and it is not permissible to obey one’s parents in breaking the fast because of having exams, because there is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience to the Creator.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
For a certain number of days; but whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; and those who are not able to do it may effect a redemption by feeding a poor man; so whoever does good spontaneously it is better for him; and that you fast is better for you if you know.
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Baqarah (002:183-184)]

  • 2) For the menstruating women (Haidh) and the women in her Nifaas (postnatal bleeding) it is HARAM for them to fast. They should make up for the missed days by fasting the exact number of days, when they are capable and after their period or when the bleeding has stopped (note the menstruating women do not have to make up for prayers they missed).

If a woman’s haidh began (after fasting the whole day) just before Maghrib, then her fasting is NOT valid and she should make up for the whole day again.

If a woman’s haidh started after Fajr when fasting she should break her fast as it will not be valid.

If a woman’s haidh stopped just before Fajr but she did not perform ghusl and started fasting, then her fasting for that day is valid.

  • 3) Old people or the ones with permanent sickness (i.e. people with diabetes who will have extreme difficulty without their insulin and may result in seizure etc.) do not have to fast. These people have to make up for their missed days by feeding a poor person for the exact number of days missed. If the person is however at that time able to fast then it is better for them to fast instead.

The very elderly who have lost their strength and are getting weaker every day as death approaches, do not have to fast, and they are allowed not to fast so long as fasting would be too difficult for them.

Those who have become senile and confused do not have to fast or do anything else, and their family does not have to do anything on their behalf, because such people are no longer counted as responsible.

If they are of sound mind sometimes and confused at other times, they have to fast when they are OK and they do not have to fast when they are confused.

Note that the ones that are permanently sick do not have to have the intention during the night to fast the following day, even if there is a possibility that he may be well in the morning, because what counts is the present moment.

If a person falls unconscious during the day and recovers before Maghrib or after, his fast is still valid, so long as he was fasting in the morning.

If he is unconscious from Fajr until Maghrib, then according to the majority of scholars his fast is not valid.

According to the majority of scholars, it is obligatory for a person who falls unconscious to make up his fasts later on, no matter how long he was unconscious.

A person who falls unconscious or takes sleeping pills or receives a general anesthetic for a genuine reason, and becomes unconscious for three days or less, must make up the fasts later on, because he is regarded as being like one who sleeps.

If he is unconscious for more than three days, he does not have to make up the fasts, because he is regarded as being like one who is insane.

The person who is suffering from a chronic illness and has no hope of recovery and elderly people who are unable to fast should feed a poor person with half a saa’ of the staple food of his country for every day that he has missed. (Half a saa’ is roughly equivalent to one and a half kilograms of rice). It is permissible for him to do this all at once, on one day at the end of the month, or to feed one poor person every day. He has to do this by giving actual food, because of the wording of the Ayah – he cannot do it by giving money to the poor but he can give money to a trustworthy person or charitable organization to buy food and distribute it to the poor on his behalf.

If a person is waiting to recover from his illness and hopes to get better, but then dies, there is no “debt” owed by him or his heirs.

If a person’s sickness is considered to be chronic, so he does not fast and feeds the poor instead, then advances in medical science mean that there is now a cure, which he uses and gets better; he does not have to make up the fasts he has missed, because he did what he had to do at the time.

  • 4) Regarding pregnant and breast-feeding women, the scholars agree that if fasting is going to harm the mother or the baby then she is allowed to break her fast.

There is a difference of opinion on how that woman is going to make up for the missed days afterwards. Should she expiate by feeding the poor, should she fast or should she do both? There is no Ayah from the Qur’an or anything explicit from the Hadith to give a ruling regarding the fasting of pregnant or breast-feeding women.

Scholars made Qiyas (analogy) regarding this.

Some scholars say since breast-feeding or pregnancy is temporary and there is a ruling for someone unable to fast due to sickness that is temporary, then pregnancy and breast-feeding can be considered a form of temporary sickness (this is not an insult, it is just for the sake of deriving a ruling). So the women have to make up their fast afterwards.

Other scholars said that since the pregnancy and the need for breast-feeding is out of their own control (like the permanent sickness) so therefore the women have to pay for their missed days by feeding the poor rather than making up by fasting.
It makes more sense if the pregnant and breast-feeding women are given the ruling of the temporarily sick person that they have to make up for their fasting of the missed days when they are capable. Allah (swt) knows best.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has lifted the obligation of fasting and part of the prayer from the traveller, and He has lifted the obligation of fasting from the pregnant and breastfeeding woman.”
[At Tirmidhi]

If a pregnant woman fasts and experiences some bleeding, her fast is still valid; this does not affect her fast at all.

  • 5) For those who are fighting an enemy or are being besieged by an enemy, if fasting would make them too weak to fight, they are allowed to break the fast, even if they are not travelling.

If they need to break their fast before fighting, they can break their fast.

The Prophet (saws) said to his Companions (r) once, before fighting: “In the morning you are going to meet your enemy and not fasting will make you stronger, so do not fast.”
[Sahih Muslim]

This is also the preferred opinion of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. The scholars of Damascus also issued fataawas to the same effect when their city was attacked by the Tatars

If a person’s reason for not fasting is obvious, such as illness, there is nothing wrong with him eating or drinking openly, but if the reason is hidden, such as menstruation, it is better to eat and drink in secret, so as not to attract accusations and the like.


Written by al Muddaththir

June 19, 2008 at 6:05 pm

One Response

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  1. Best site. Greeat you.


    August 12, 2008 at 6:31 am

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