Exemptions from the Fast
Every Muslim who is
adult and in possession of his faculties must fast
Ramadan. They are exempted, however, in the following cases:
- Women in
or in child-birth bleeding.
- Persons on sick
bed, or on a journey.
- Women in
menstruation, or bleeding after giving birth, shall not fast.
- If Ramadan begins while a woman is in menstruation or
child-birth bleeding, she shall not fast until bleeding ceases in both
cases and she takes the ritual bath.
- If bleeding occurs during Ramadan, then a woman shall break
bleeding ceases, a woman must wash and then fast. If she does not find
water, she must perform the ritual purification with sand (tayammum).
- If bleeding ceases during the night, she can formulate the
intention to fast and lose no time in washing but postpone taking a
bath until after dawn, providing she does so before sunrise.
- If a bleeding woman deliberately postpones the bath until
after sunrise, thereby missing the morning prayers, then her fast shall
not be valid.
- A bleeding woman shall fast a number of days equal to those
because of bleeding. `Aisha said :"In the
time we were ordered to compensate for fasting days missed in bleeding
but were not ordered to perform restitution for our missed prayers"
(1) Out of Allah's
mercy, a sick person or a traveller was instructed to
fast a number of days equal to those he missed during Ramadan.
(2) The Quran did not
mention any specific kind of sickness and did not describe
the sickness which exempts a person from the fast during Ramadan.
a person suffering from any ailment whatsoever of the stomach, side,
heart, etc... may apply this stipulation. The Quran contains a general
statement and does not specify the severity of pain or degree of danger
Some of the early
granted the exemption even in the case of a painful finger.
(3) The Quran also did
not specify, in the case of a journey, the distance
or means of transport used. So the stipulation applies in all cases of
travel whether a person is travelling on foot; on an animal ; by train,
or by plane.
differed, however, as to the distance which grants the exemption.
authorities reported that one of the prophet's companions, a man by the
name of Dihya Ibn Kalifa travelled during Ramadan for about three miles
and had considered the distance sufficient to justify his breaking the
fast, as did a number of people who were with him.
The following are some regulations regarding travelling in Ramadan:
(a) A person may or may
not break the fast if lie happens to be travelling
during Ramadan; Anas Ibn Malik said "We used to travel with the
He never criticised those who had been fasting or those who had broken
(b) To break the fast
is preferable if the journey threatens a person's
health. Jabir reported that the Prophet passed a crowd with a man in
midst placed in the shade. Asking about the man, the Prophet was told
was fasting. Whereupon the Prophet said that it was not healthy to fast
on the road.
(c) It is also
preferable to break the fast when the warriors approach
the enemy. Abu Sa'id reported : "We travelled in
the company of the prophet to Mecca. We were fasting and we approached
Mecca. The Prophet told us "You have neared your enemy and it will give
you more strength if you break the fast".
(d) If a clash with the
enemy is certain, then breaking the fast is imperative.
Abu Sa'id, continuing his previous report, said "Then
we came closer to Mecca. The Prophet told us "Tomorrow you will meet
enemy ; therefore break the fast.' And we did so."
(e) A traveller,
who happens to be observing the fast, may break it any time he feels
doing. Ibn `Abbas said : "The Prophet and the believers went out during
Ramadan in the year of the conquest of Mecca. On the road they passed
a stream. It was noon and the thirsty people stretched out their necks
while their souls burned with the desire to drink. The Prophet called
a vessel full of water which he held up on high so that every body
see it. Then he drank and everybody else followed his example."
(f) One may break the
fast before starting on a journey. Muhammad Ibn Kab
said: " I called at the house of Anas Ibn Malik one day in Ramadan Anas
was preparing to go on a journey. His camel was saddled and he was
for the journey. He asked for food, which he ate, and I said to him : "Is
breaking the fast in this fashion a sunah (an act of the Prophet) ?` He
answered : `Yes, it is a sunnah.' Then he mounted and left".
a man happens to enter during his journey a town where he does not
to stay permantly, he may fast or break the fast. Ibn `Abbas reported :
"The Prophet embarked on the conquest of Mecca during Ramadan He
the fast until he reached al-Kadid a well between Qudayd and `Usfan,
he broke the fast until the month had passed."
Pregnant and nursing women may break the Ramadan fast but
shall fast a
number of days, equal to those missed ,after pregnancy or nursing
In other words, pregnant and nursing women are in the same position as
a traveller, being free to choose between breaking the fast or keeping
According to a hadith related by Anas Ibn Malik al Kabi, the
"God has relieved a traveller from part of the prayers and relieved him
along with pregnant and nursing women from fasting."
nursing women may also break the fast if they fear injury either to
or their infants.
However, they should perform restitution.
`Ulama have different opinions as regards old people.
Some `ulama are of the opinion that if an old man is unable to
may break the fast provided he feeds a poor man for each day he breaks
the fast. This is what is meant by the term fidyah.
Others said that
an old person was free not to observe the fast without fidyah) on the
of the Quranic verse "On no soul does God place a
burden greater than it can bear."
The stipulation regarding old persons applies to persons
afflicted with incurable illnesses.
Sheikh Muhammad Abdu (a prominent scholar and one time rector
of Al-Azhar) was of the opinion
that people engaged in hard manual work like mining, or prisoners
to hard labour, may break the fast if they can afford the fidyah.