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FIQH OF FASTING (فقه الصيام)

Written & Compiled by: Assoutudeen Abu Mubaashir


Linguistically, sawm (fasting) means to abstain from something. Legally, It means abstaining from things that break the fast, from dawn until sunset, having first made the intention (niyyah) to fast. It is the fourth pillar of Islam. One of the greatest acts of worship is fasting, which Allah has made obligatory on His slaves, as He says:

Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 183:

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

As the status of this act of worship is so high, it is essential to learn the rulings ( ﺍﺣﻜﺎﻡ ) that have to do with the month of fasting so that the Muslim will know what is obligatory, in order to do it, what is haraam, in order to avoid it, and what is permissible, so that he need not subject himself to hardship by depriving himself of it and have tranquility in his Ibadah.

Upon Whom is Fasting Obligatory
Fasting is obligatory for a person if he fulfils five conditions:

1- He is a Muslim

2- He is accountable ( ﺍﻟﻤﻜﻠﻒ )

3- He is able to fast

4- He is settled (not travelling)

5- There are no impediments to fasting

If these five conditions are met, then it is obligatory for a person to fast. Kaafirs are excluded from the first condition. The kaafir is not obliged to fast and his fast is not valid. Should he becomes Muslim, he is not obliged to make up fasts from before.

Those Exempted From Fasting
One of the ways in which Allaah has made things easy for His slaves is that He has only enjoined fasting upon those who are able to do it, and He has excused those who are unable to fast for a legitimate shar’i reason. The legitimate reasons for which one may be excused from fasting are as follows:
1⃣ Sickness

Sickness means everything that means that a person is not healthy. Ibn Qudaamah said: the scholars are agreed that it is permissible for the sick person not to fast in general. The basis of that is the aayah in which Allaah says:

Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 184:
ﻓَﻤَﻦ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﻣِﻨﻜُﻢ ﻣَّﺮِﻳﻀًﺎ ﺃَﻭْ ﻋَﻠَﻰٰ ﺳَﻔَﺮٍ ﻓَﻌِﺪَّﺓٌ ﻣِّﻦْ ﺃَﻳَّﺎﻡٍ ﺃُﺧَﺮ

If any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days.

The sick person who fears that fasting may make his sickness worse or that it will slow down his recovery or damage a part of his body, has the option of not fasting, and indeed it is Sunnah for him not to fast and it is makrooh for him to complete his fast, because that may lead to his death. So he has to be cautious and protect himself.

Moreover, if the sick person is very ill, that makes it permissible for him not to fast. But if a healthy person fears difficulty or tiredness, it is not permissible for him to break his fast, if all that happens to him when he fasts is that he becomes tired.

2⃣ Travelling
In order for traveling to result in a concession excusing one from fasting, the following conditions must be met:
a- The journey must be long enough that prayers may be shortened.

b- The traveler must not intend to settle in the place to which he travels.

c- His journey must not be for any sinful purpose, rather it should be for a sound purpose, according to the majority of scholars. That is because being allowed not to fast is a concession and relief that the sinner does not deserve on his journey, because the purpose of his journey is to commit sin – such as one who travels in order to commit banditry, for example.

Cancellation of the concession for traveling:
This concession of traveling is cancelled by two things:

(i) When the traveler returns home and enters his hometown, which is the place where he resides.

(ii) When the traveler decides to stay indefinitely, or for a lengthy period in one place, and the place is fit for settling in. Thus he becomes a resident (or non-traveller), so he should pray his prayers in full and not break his fast in Ramadaan, because the rulings on travel no longer apply to him.

3️⃣ Pregnancy and breastfeeding
The fuqaha’ are agreed that pregnant and breastfeeding women may break their fast in Ramadaan, on the condition that they think there is a risk that they or their children may become ill or more ill, or be harmed or may die.

The evidence that women in these cases are allowed not to fast is the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik al-Ka’bi (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Allaah has relieved the traveler of fasting and half of prayer, and He has relieved the pregnant and breastfeeding woman of fasting.” (Bukhari)

4️⃣ Senility and Old age
Senility or old age refers to one who is old and has lost his strength, or who is approaching death, so that every day he becomes weaker, until he dies, or who is suffering from a terminal or incurable illness and has no hope of recovery. The evidence that it is prescribed for such people not to fast is the aayah:

َ ﻭَﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﻳُﻄِﻴﻘُﻮﻧَﻪُ ﻓِﺪْﻳَﺔٌ ﻃَﻌَﺎﻡُ ﻣِﺴْﻜِﻴﻦ
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for everyday)”

Ibn ‘Abbaas & Ali Ibn Abi Taalib; (may Allaah be pleased with them) said that this aayah applies to old men and old women who cannot fast, so for each day they should feed one poor person.

5️⃣ Intense hunger & thirst
If a person is overtaken by intense hunger or unbearable thirst, then he should break his fast and eat just as much as he needs to ward off that hunger, then he should refrain from eating for the rest of the day, and make up that fast later on.

The scholars added to intense hunger and thirst, the fear of weakness when meeting the enemy, or fearing or expecting an attack, such as when one is surrounded. So if a fighter knows for sure or thinks it most likely that there will be fighting because he is facing the enemy, and he fears that fasting may make him weak when fighting, and he is not traveling, then he may break his fast before fighting.

However, one must fear Allah sincerely and be very careful not to deceive himself, all the in the name of having intense hunger and unbearable thirst.

6️⃣ Compulsion
Compulsion means one person forcing another to do something or not to do something against his will, by means of threats. If that occurs such that one don’t have power to overrule it, then he may break his fast and pay later. For example, a kidnapper forcing a kidnapped Muslim to eat in the day during Ramadan. Failure to do so, it may lead to his death, then upon him is to break the fast if he isn’t capable. May almighty Allah save us from such. (Aameen)

7️⃣ Women
Those who are passing from their monthly cycles or those who are undergoing from the phase of post-childbirth, women, in such conditions are exempted from fasting and are required to compensate for the missed days afterwards.

And Allah knows best!

To be continued in shaa Allah

©️ Assoutudeen Prophetic Medicine Foundation (APMF)

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