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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Acts of Worship and their Rulings Fasting and Ramadaan

Who should Fast and who should not Fast? Should a child be allowed to fast?

= Fasting is obligatory on every sane, mature and healthy Muslim. Young children are encouraged to fast. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol. 3, no. 181)]

= 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 anhu) 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) and Saheeh Muslim (no. 1121)]

Anas Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anhu) reported, "I traveled along with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wasallam) 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) and Saheeh Muslim (no. 1118)]

Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) 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 anhu), "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, Ibn Majah (Saheeh al-Jamee as-Sagheer no. 7517)]

= During menstrual period or the 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? And that is the defect (a loss) in her religion." [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.


Question: When should a young girl begin fasting?

Allamah Abdullah Ibn Jibreen (hafidahullah) replied, "When a young girl attains the age of puberty and becomes a woman, she must begin to fast. If a girl attained puberty at an age of ten years or up, she must begin to fast. If a young girl's menstruation starts she must fast the prescribed month of Ramadaan regardless of her age." ['Fatawa on Fasting, Zakaat and Taraweeh,' Published by Darussalam]

Question: My son is a minor, who insists to fast, although he is not too healthy. Should I force him to break his fast?

Allamah Mohammed Ibn Salih al-Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) replied, "A minor who has not yet attained puberty is not required to observe fasting. If a minor, however, can afford to fast without hardship and difficulty, he should be rather commanded to perform fasting. The Companions of the Prophet commanded their youngsters to fast during the month of Ramadaan. A small child may cry, because of hunger and fatigue. The parents will give such a child, a toy to play with, until the time of sunset. But if it is proven and obvious that such a child may endanger his health by observing the fasts, then such a minor must be forbidden to observe the fast. No force must be applied, however, to forbid minors from fasting, force is not preferred in the Islamic method for upbringing." ['Fatawa on Fasting, Zakaat and Taraweeh,' Published by Darussalam]

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter