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Fasting in Ramazaan is one of the five pillars of Islam as the Prophet said: “Islam is built on five pillars: testifying that there is no true god except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, the establishment of the prayer, the giving of zakah, the fast of Ramazaan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.” Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.1:8


Fasting in Ramazaan is an obligation on every Muslim who has reached the age of puberty.  Allah said in the Quran: “So whoever witnesses the month should fast it.” Quran Surah Baqrah 2:185 Whoever does not fast during Ramazaan without a legitimate excuse commits what is considered a major sin.


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Exempt people from Fasting

1.  A Muslim child who has not yet reached puberty is exempt from fasting till one of the following signs of puberty appear:

        (a) discharge of semen, whether by experiencing a wet dream or otherwise

        (b) growth of pubic hair

        (c) menstruation

        (d) a person has turned 15

2.  If you are traveling in Ramazaan, you have the option not to fast. If you choose not to, you must make up for the days missed at a later time before the following Ramazaan.

3.  A woman is not allowed to fast during menstruation or post-natal bleeding, and she must perform the number of fasts she missed on other days before the following Ramazaan.

4.  A pregnant or breast-feeding woman may be exempted from fasting if it proves harmful to her or the infant.  This case is discussed in more detail below.

5.  The mentally insane are also exempt from fasting.

6.  The Merciful Lord does not burden a soul beyond its ability.  If you are sick, you are also exempt from fasting.

There are two issues to know here:

First, how sick is sick?  Cough or minor headache is not serious enough not to fast, but if there is medical reason, and you know from experience, or are certain that fasting will make your illness worse or delay recovery, you do not need to fast and you should make up the days when you get better.

The chronically ill who do not foresee any chance of recovery must feed a poor person for every day of Ramazaan they miss. They do not need to fast for them on other days.

7.  Those too old to fast are also exempt from fasting, and they too must feed a poor person for every day of Ramazaan they miss.


Special Regulations for Women

(1) Menstruation & Post-Natal bleeding

If the period begins before sunset, the woman’s fast is invalidated and she has to make up that day.  During the rest of her period she cannot fast.  If she becomes pure before Fajr then she should fast, even if she does not bathe until after the time of Fajr starts.  All the missed days have to be made up after Ramazaan.


(2) Pregnancy and Nursing

Both nursing and pregnant women are required to fast in Ramazaan.  You should not fast if you fear harm for yourself or your child, or if it is too physically difficult. On the other hand, if fasting does not result in hardship or harm, then a pregnant or nursing mother must fast.


Opinions of Companion of Prophet Muhammad 

“For the pregnant and breast-feeding women if they fear for themselves or their children or fetuses. That they have to feed the poor only, and do not have to make up the fasts. Among the Sahaabah, this was the view of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him). Ibn Qudaamah also narrated this in al-Mughni (3/37) from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). 


Abu Dawood (2318) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas and ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with them) that this phrase – “those who can fast with difficulty” [Qur’an Surah Baqarah 2:184] was a concession granted to old men and old women who find it difficult to fast, allowing them not to fast and to feed one poor person for each day instead, and the same for pregnant and breastfeeding women if they are afraid. Abu Dawood said: i.e., for their children – they may not fast and may feed (the poor) instead. Al-Nawawi said: its isnaad is hasan. 


This was also narrated by al-Bazzaar who added at the end: Ibn ‘Abbaas(may Allaah be pleased with him) used to say to a cohabit of his who was pregnant: “You are like one who cannot fast, so you have to pay the fidyah but you do not have to make up the fasts.” Al-Daaraqutni classed its isnaad as saheeh, as stated by al-Haafiz in al-Talkhees. Also mentioned in Tafseer ibn Kathir for tafseer of Qur’an Surah Baqarah 2:184, Vol. 1, P. 498, Eng. Translation


See also

Ramazaan; Fasting Virtues and Wisdom; Last ten nights of RamazaanVoluntary Fasting; Laylatul Qadr; Allah; Iftar; Things that invalidate the Fast;



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