Breaking the Fast during Ramadan

By

Shaykh Dr. ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Saalih al-Atram

(may Allaah preserve him)

All perfect praise is due to Allaah, The Almighty, who choose for us Islam as a religion, enjoined us to do obligations and outlined for us legal punishments. We dearly praise and thank Him the Almighty. We repent and seek forgiveness from Him. We seek refuge with Allaah The Almighty from the evil of our souls and the consequences of our evil deeds. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah Alone, Who is Merciful towards His Servants for He, The Almighty, Says (what means): {"Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people."} [Quran 2: 286]

And I testify that Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is His slave and Messenger, who taught us a lot of knowledge, guided us to the abundant goodness, taught us in is Hadeeths how we can observe fasting and how we can spend nights in prayer so that we may worship our Almighty Lord in clear way and knowledge. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “To whomsoever Allaah wills to show goodness, He favors him with the understanding in the Religion.”

May Allaah send plentiful peace and blessing upon him, his household, his companions who were taught by their Messenger and attended the lessons of his great school until they comprehended, understood and applied them to themselves and their houses and disseminated them in their society and thus they were truly callers of guidance, light, knowledge, and truth.

To proceed:

O Muslims, fear and obey Allaah, The Almighty, adhere firmly to His orders, do not disobey Him and have better understanding of your religion. Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means): {[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.} [Quran 2: 184]

It was narrated that ‘Aa‘ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “I would owe Ramadan fasts and I would not be able to make them up except in Sha’baan.”

She, may Allaah be pleased with her, also narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever dies while having fasts (to be made up), then his guardian may fast on his behalf.”

In a Hadeeth narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, he said that a man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, my mother died and she ought to have fasted one month. Shall I fast on her behalf?”’ The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “If your mother was in debt, would you pay off her debt?” The man replied in the affirmative. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, then said: “The debt of Allaah has more right to be paid off.”

Another narration reads: “A woman came to the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessings be upon him, and said, ‘My mother died and she had vowed to fast but she did not fast. Shall I fast on her behalf?’ He, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘If your mother had died in debt and you had paid it off on her behalf, would not that have freed her from liability?’She replied in the affirmative. He then said: ‘Then, fast on behalf of your mother.’”

Allaah, The Almighty, obliged people to worship Him and never associate anyone with Him. Their worship must be fulfilled according to what He, The Exalted, has prescribed for them. Amongst the acts of worship that have defined time are prayer, fasting and Hajj. Some of such acts are repeated in every day and night like the five prayers, or once in the year such as Ramadan, or once in the lifetime like Hajj. The act that has a certain, limited and repeated time can never be missed such as prayer as long as one has the least degree of consciousness and thus one has to offer it according to his condition and ability. Whoever sleeps or forgets a prayer, should pray it as soon as he wakes up and remembers it. That is because it was narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever sleeps or forgets to pray it, should pray it as soon as he remembers it and there is no expiation for it except that.”

What many people do such as neglecting prayers or doing them after their due time ends or because of work are really incorrect. If one wants to wait until being cured or purifying himself from impurities, then it is obligatory upon the patient to offer prayer according to his condition. One should perform ablution and remove impurity if he is able, otherwise, perform Tayamyyum (i.e. dry ablution) and perform the prayer while standing and if one is unable, then pray sitting, and if again one is unable, then pray (while he is) lying down on one of his sides, if one is unable, then with his intention. The same ruling applies to the one whom prayer becomes due on him while he is in his work, he has to offer it in its due time and not delay it until he removes the traces of his work or so that his clothes may not be affected by ablution as many employees do. May Allaah guide all of us to adhering firmly to the religion of Allaah, The Almighty. If Muslim individual fulfills prayer in its due time, he then he did the right thing and fulfilled his obligation. However, if one delays it until its due time ends, then he as to make up for it.

Fasting the day during Ramadan is something obligatory. It is to be fulfilled in its due time and whoever delays it from the month of Ramadan, then he will be obliged to make up for it. Muslim individual who is mature, sane and has free will is not to delay fasting during the month of Ramadan or anything of it except for a valid excuse such as if fasting will affect his health badly, where if he observes fasting, his recovery will be delayed or his sickness will be made worse by fasting, and such as the pregnant and the breast-feeding woman who fears for herself and her baby, or the excuse implies a noticeable difficulty such as traveling. Some of those who are exempted from fasting for such excuses are given option of fasting and feeding one poor person for each day in which one did not fast. This is for those whose sickness is very severe and is most likely incurable. The same thing applies to the old man and woman. Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means): {So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day].} [Quran 2: 184]

Amongst those who are also exempted from fasting during the month of Ramadan and are obliged to make up for the missed fast and give food are the pregnant and the breast-feeding women who break their fasting when they fear for their baby. However, if they break their fasting because of fear for themselves, then they are obliged to make up for the missed fasts only. Amongst those who are exempted from fasting in Ramadan and are obliged to make up for the missed fast but not giving food are the sick person whom there is a hope of his recovery and the traveler. As for the woman who is in menses or post-partum bleeding, she is prohibited to fast and is obliged to break her fast and make up for such missed fasts later on. Muslim individual is obliged to make up for the missed fasts as soon as his excuse, such as traveling or sickness, is removed in any month of the Hijri year. One can make up the missed fasts on separate days or on consecutive days. It is better to make them up in consecutive days because it will be like the original fasting. It is also better for one to hasten making up the missed fasts of Ramadan even with the element of time difficulty as a form of hastening to fulfilling one’s obligation and doing good. 

One has to make up all the days in which he did not fast. Thus, if he did not fast the whole month, then he has to fast according to the days of the month, be it thirty or twenty-nine. One does not have to observe the missed fasts in the very same conditions of the original ones regarding their length, shortness, hot or cold weather.

It is permissible for one to make up the missed fasts of Ramadan on separate days for it was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them, from the Prophet that he said about making the missed fasts of Ramadan: “One may fast consecutively and on occasions.”

If there are no days remain before the next Ramadan except the days sufficient for performing the missed fasts, then one is obliged to make up the missed fasts in them. If the next Ramadan comes, then one is obliged to fast it and then make up the days he did not fast from the previous Ramadan and feed one poor person on each day along with making up the missed fasts.

As for the amount of the food (that should be given to the poor), it is a half Saa‘ (almost 3kg) for every poor person for each day from the average of that which one feeds his family or clothing them. Whoever his sickness continues and dies (on such state), then it is not obligatory upon him to make up the missed fasts, nor offer expiation or ransom, because he is not negligent. No one should fast on the behalf of a living person at all. As for who dies and is owed of vowing fasts, his guardian should fast on his behalf. The guardian here means the heir who will inherit his estate and if anyone else fasts on his behalf, it will be sufficient and valid. However, the guardian is more appropriate to be dutiful for the deceased. The Noble verse refers to the easiness and kindness of the Islamic Sharee‘ah (i.e. Divine Laws) and that it never enjoin anything aimlessly. Making up the missed fasts can be fulfilled in anytime. The Hadeeth of ‘Aa‘ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, indicates the permissibility of delaying making up the missed fasts of Ramadan until Sha‘baan; knowing that it is better to hasten to perform them as long as there is no excuse for ths. ‘Aa‘ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, has explained her excuse and that it is not permissible to delay making up the missed fasts until the second Ramadan. It also implies a form of kind treatment of ‘Aa‘ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, toward her husband; the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. May Allaah guide Muslim women to take her as a role model!

 

The Hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, indicates that debts are to be paid on the behalf of the dead, whether they are due for Allaah, The Almighty, or human beings. The debts that are due and are to be paid to Allaah, The Almighty, are the rights which one can fulfill on behalf of another one such as fasting vows, pilgrimage, distributing Zakaah, and expiations. Financial rights of Allaah, The Almighty, should be taken from the estate of the dead if he/she has one.

 

O Muslims, fear Allaah, The Almighty, and praise Him dearly for the easiness and mercy He bestowed upon us. Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means):

•   {And strive for Allaah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allaah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give Zakah and hold fast to Allaah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.} [Quran 22: 78]

 

I  seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan. Allaah, The Almighty, Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.} [Quran 2: 183-184]  

O Allaah, bless us with the Noble Quran, benefit us with its signs and wise remembrance. I say these words of mine and I ask Allaah The Almighty to forgive me, you and all Muslims from all sins.

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