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 Who is exempt from fasting?

Which people are exempted from fasting in Ramadan? What are the conditions to be exempted from fasting in Ramadan? What are the valid excuses for abandoning fast of Ramadan?

Answer:

"Whoever breaks his fast without an excuse such as illness, travel he can never compensate this broken fast no matter how many days he fasts during his lifetime." (Tirmizi, Nasai, Abu Davud, İbn Maja, İbn Huzayma)

1-      Illness 

What should a fasting person do if he/she falls ill?
1.     If an ill person falls ill and fears that his situation will get worse on condition that he keeps on fasting or his recovery will be delayed or he will face a severe hardship in his life, then according to the scholars (imams) of three schools of thought it is permissible to break his/her fast.

According to Hanbali school of thought in such a situation as this it would be sunnah to break the fast and it would be Makruh (reprehensible though not forbidden by God) to keep on fasting.

2-      If somebody thinks and afraids that he/she would be destroyed or one of his/her limbs or senses would cease to operate, then it is wajib (obligatory) for him/her to break his fast (sawm). For a person in this condition, it is unitedly haram (prohibited) to continue fasting.

What should a healthy person do on condition that he assumes he will face a severe damage in his health if he fasts?

According to Hanafi madhab; if a person believes that he would be sick with strong conjecture if he fasts (sawm), his breaking his fast would be mubah (1) (neither obligatory nor recommended (neutral). But, continuing to fast is also mubah (neither obligatory nor recommended (neutral)) even he is ill.

According to Shafis; On condition that a person assumes that he would be ill if he fasts, it is not permissible to break his fast, as long as any damage doesn’t occur while he is fasting. He needs to give an attempt to fast in order to determine whether fasting will do any harm or not.

According to Shafis, for a person who faced the harm while fasting, it is wajib (obligatory) to do niyyah while breaking his/her fast. If he quits to do niyyah, this will be a sinful behaviour.

According to Malikis; it is wajib for such a person to break his fast as in the case of ill people.

According to Hanbalis; it is Sunnah for such a person to break his fast as in the case of ill people. And continuing to fast is Makruh (abominable [abstaining is recommended]).

 

2-      Pregnant and breastfeeding women

According to Hanafis; while pregnant and breastfeeding women are fasting, if there is a fear of harm to the children along with themselves or only themselves or only the the child, it is permissible for them to break their fasts or quit fasting. 

When they have the energy enough to perform (fast) at a later time, they needn’t give fidyah (2). It doesn’t matter if the breastfeeding woman is the child’s real mother or nursing mother, the conditions are still the same for the nursing mother.

According to Shafis; while pregnant and breastfeeding women are fasting, if there is a fear of harm to the children along with themselves or only themselves or only the the child, it is permissible for them to break their fasts. Due to the all three cases they have to perform (fast) at a later time. Moreover they must also give fidyah on condition that they quit or break their fasts for the fear of any harm to the children.

According to Malikis; pregnant and breastfeeding ­women, -regardless of whether she is the real mother of child- if there is a fear of occurrence of any illness or any possible increase in disease in themselves or in their children or both of them, they need to break their fasting, then they have to perform (fast) a later time. Moreover not the pregnant woman but the breastfeeding woman should also give fidyah.

It would be wajib (obligatory) to break the fast, if there is a fear of perishing or an exposure to severe harm for both themselves and their children.

If there is another woman for breastfeeding and if child accepts this nursing mother; in this condition, it is not in any means permissible for the real mother to break her fast.

According to Hanbalis; if the pregnant and breastfeeding women have the fear of harm both for themselves and their children or only for themselves by reason of fasting, it is mubah (neutral) for them to break their fast. In this case they should perform (fast) at a later time day for a day.

But if they have the fear of harm only for their children by reason of fasting, it would be mubah (neutral) for them to break fast or quit fasting. In this condition they should perform (fast) a later time per day and give fidyah for each day.

 

3-      Journey

If the journey distance of  the traveler is short (enough to make the act of shortening the prayers mubah (neutral)) and if he/she reaches the place where the conditions of being traveler (safari) started after starting travel before fajr time, then it is mubah (neutral) for the traveler quit fasting for that day.  

It is not permissible to quit fasting, if the travelling distance isn’t long enough to fit in the “mubah (neutral) conditions of shortening the prayers for one day.”

The three madhab imams are on alliance with these 2 conditions. But only Hanbalis stated the followings on the latter issue:  


In the morning, even if a person who fasting after dissolution*, goes out from their town for journey, to go to distance on the condition that enough make prayer an abbreviation permitted break fast is permissible.

*Dissolution: to turning toward sunset from half of the sun. 

Shafii madhab added also third rule for fasting (sawm) is permissible while in travelling.

This rule is for people who is the lack of continuous journey.  A human who is constantly travelling and if he does not fasting(sawm) is haram (prohibited). But during the travelling he fasting(sawm) if he encounters a reason of need to take teyemmum (perform ablution without water) and he doesn’t fasting (sawm) in this case it would be wajeb (obligatory).

 In the Ramadan month, after sunrise a person who go to the journey if he breaks his fast in this case it would be haram (forbidden, anything prohibited of islam). But according to three madhab imam if he breaks his fast, he must perform his fast without atonement.

According to Shafis; if he breaks his fast that either required to atonement or perform his fast at a later time, it must be either perform his fast at a later time or atonement,  if he breaks his fast that only requires to perform at a later time, only perform his fast would be wajib.

 

If he intended for fasting in the night and he breaks his fast is permissible, he doesn’t be sinful and he does need to atonement.

As according to Malikis; On condition that a traveler who did his intention [niyyah] for fasting in the morning to breaks his fast during the day-hours, it would be wajib for him to do both expiation and kada (perform the missed worhip at a later time).

As according to Hanafi school of thought (madhab); it would be haram (prohibited) for a traveler who did his intention [niyyah] for fasting in the morning to break his fast. On condition that he breaks fast only it needs kada (making missed worships up at another time).

If fasting (sawm) isn’t difficult for the traveler, then fasting would be mandup (not sin but good deed). Because Allah (swt) declares in the Qur’an that this behaviour would be more virtuous:

“ [Observing fasts] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is beter for him. And that you fast, it is beter for you is only you know. ” (Baqarah 184)

But if it is difficult to fast for such a person, then not fasting is more virtuous according to Hanafis and Shafis.

As according to Maliki; if fasting (sawm) isn’t difficult for travelers, then fasting while travelling is a more virtuous behaviour for him.
According to Hanbali school of thought, quitting fasting while travelling (though there is no hardship in fasting) is Sunnah, and fasting is Makruh (reprehensible).

 

4-      Women in menstruation (Hayd) and Puerpera (nifas) 

It is wajeb (obligatory) for a fasting woman to break her fast if she gets her period or puerpera after giving birth during fasting. In this case it would be haram for her to fast in this situation. And it is void (batil) if she fasts. And she needs to perform her fasts at a later time.

 

5-      Being Severely Thirsty and Hungry

It is permissible for a fasting person to break his fast on condition that he is severely thirsty or hungry that he will not be able to keep on fasting or he will die. But he must perform his fast at a later time.

 

6. Agedness

Very old people, who are not able to fast in any season of the year don’t fast. But it is wajib (compulsory) for them to pay fitrah for each day of the month of Ramadan. The three madhab imams are of the same opinion. According to the Malikis, it is just mustahab (recommended) for him to pay fidyah.

As for the Hanbalis, the people who are not able to fast because of agedness or an illness/disease without recovery must pay fidyah for each day that they couldn’t fast.

The one unable to fast in Ramadan but capable enough to perform at another time must perform his missed fast afterwards. He doesn’t need to pay fidyah.

 

7. The fasting person’s losing his mind

 If a fasting person loses his mind even just for a moment, fasting wouldn’t be compulsory for him anymore. If he goes on fasting, it is not valid.

 According to shafi school of thought; on condition that he goes insane or loses consiousness by his own actions (intentionally) (such as drinking alcohol or taking some kind of pills) he must perform his missed fastings at a later time. Bur if he lose his mind and consciousness or goes insane without the interferance of his own actions, unavoidably, he doesnt need to make his missing fastings up at a later time.

 According to Hanbalis; if this condition of going insane or losing consciousness lasts during the whole day, there is not an absolute necessity to make the  missed fast at a later time, regardless of its being by the person's own actions (intentionally) or without the interferance of his own actions, unavoidably. BUT if he happens to regain consciousness during anytime of the day, on this condition is it obligatory (wajib) to make the missed fast up at a later time.

 According to Maliki school of thought; if a person who is fasting happens to go insane or loses consciousness during the whole day or during most of the day; he must make the missed fast up for that day regardless of regaining the consciousness back again or not. If the fasting person stays in this condition (insane or loss of consciousness) a half-day or less than a half-day, he must perform his missed fast at a later time only on condition that he regains his consciousness back in the following hours of the same day. But if he cant regain his consciousness back during the following hours fo the same day, he doesnt need to make the missed fast up.

 

8. Situation of Compulsion

 It is jaaiz (permissible) to break the fast by reason of an action risking the life or damaging an organ.

 If violence is in question for a fasting person who is not ill or not traveler and if he doesn’t break his Ramadan fast despite this violence and happens to be killed, he isn’t considered to be a sinner. Contrarily he acquires merit due to being killed for the sake of his attachment to belief.

 However, if an ill or a traveller fasting person doesn’t break his fast despite the violence and happens to be killed as a result of this compulsion, he is regarded as a sinner. Because Islam permits the traveller and the ill to break fast in such a condition. (Big Islamic jurisprudence- Omar Nasuhi Bilmen)

According to the Shafis, a threatened person can’t break his fast. (The Islamic Jurisprudence in Accordance with the Four Madhhab.)

 

9- In war against the Enemy

A Muslim Soldier can quit fasting if he wishes, on condition that there is fear of falling weak during the war against the enemy soldiers. They must make up their fasts at another time regardless of the continuation of war or not.

 What should be done when the hardships hindering fasting (such as menstruation etc) disappears during the day?

According to Hanafi and Hanbali school of thought; on condition that the hardships hindering fasting (such as a woman in menstruation gets cleaned during the day, or a traveller finishes his/her travel during the day or a child reaches puberty during the day... etc) disappears during the day, it is wajib (obligatory) to behave as if he/she is fasting during the following hours of the day.

According to Maliki school of thought; If the excuse (making quitting fastings neutral [mubah]) is an excuse apart from the outer force of somebody else, then it is not wajib (obligatory) to behave as if he/she is fasting during the following hours of the day.

But if this excuse is based on someone else's force and this force is lifted, then it is wajib (obligatory) to behave as if he/she is fasting.

According to shafi school of thought; it is sunnah to behave as if he/she is fasting during the following hours of the day.

Apart from these conditions, it is regarded as haram (prohibited) to quit fasting during Ramadan. (Ibn Hajar al hatami / Az-Zawajir an Iktirafi'l-Kabair)

 Source: Fiqh of Islam According to Four Madhabs

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(1)Mubah (neutral): Doing or not doing the mubah does not count as a good or bad deed, namely  he is free deeds comletely that doing or not doing.

 

(2) Fidyah is to feed sixty poor for the compensation of each missed day of fasting supposed to be performed at a later time. Namely each one of these poors should be given the equivalent and the same amount of food as given to the poor in atonement (kaffarah) conditions. Kaynak: https://askaquestionto.us - Who is exempt from fasting?

 

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