As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 7


Who should fast and who should not fast?

= Fasting is obligatory on every sane, mature and healthy Muslim. Young children are encouraged to fast. [Saheeh al-Bukharee ]

= Exempted are those who suffer terminal (incurable) illnesses, or are too old to fast. Allah does not overburden His slaves.

= Permission to abstain from fasting is granted to travelers, who do not travel for the purpose of breaking the fast.
Authentic Ahadeeth confirm that a traveler has the choice to fast or to abstain from fasting. Anas Ibn Malik al-Ka'bi (radhi allahu anahu) narrates that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “Allah has permitted the traveler to postpone his fasts and shorten his prayer…" [Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, an-Nisaee, at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Majah] Hamzah Ibn Amr al-Aslamee asked Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), “Shall I fast while traveling?" and he was a person who fasted often, so Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said to him, “Fast if you wish and refrain from fasting if you wish." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (4/156)] Anas Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anahu) reported, “I traveled along with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) in Ramadaan, and the fasting person would not criticize the one not fasting, nor would the one, not fasting, criticize the fasting person." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (4/163)] Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anahu) also said, “Do not condemn one who observes fast, or one who does not observe it (on a journey), for the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) observed fast on a journey or he did not observe it (too)." [Saheeh Muslim (no. 2471)]

    If fasting on a journey produces hardship, then it is forbidden to fast. Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdullah (radhi allahu anahu), “Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was on a journey and saw a crowd of people and a man was being shaded (by them). He asked, 'What is the matter?' they said, 'He (the man) is observing Saum (fast). The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'It is not from al-Birr (righteousness) to observe fast on a journey.'" [Saheeh al-Bukharee] Thus, “…It is permissible for one to observe fast or break his fast while traveling. But it is recommended for a healthy, strong person to observe fast, whereas a sick person is recommended not to observe fast. The saying of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), 'It is not from al-Birr (righteousness) to observe fast on a journey,' is applicable to a particular case, i.e., when one is so weak or sick that observing the fast will harm him. In such a case, one has to break his fast, for Allah does not like His devotees to harm themselves unnecessarily.” [From the footnotes of Saheeh al-Bukharee by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan]

= As for those, whose sickness does not allow them to fast, they fall into three categories;
a) If fasting does not impose hardships and does not harm, then it is better to fast.
b) If fasting is hard but not harmful, then he is permitted to break his fast.
c) If fasting is harmful for him, then he is ordered to abstain from fasting, because Allah says, “Do not throw yourselves into destruction." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 195] And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “There is (to be) no harm or reciprocating harm." [(saheeh) Musnad Ahmad]

= During menstrual period or post-natal bleeding, women should abstain from fasting. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “Isn't it true that a woman does not offer prayer and does not observe fast on menstruating?...” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (304)]

=The pregnant or breast feeding women, whose health or the health of the suckling baby might be affected due to fasting, may abstain from fasting.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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