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Concerning Fasting
  The Rulings of Ramadaan
Author: Islamic Society of the University of Essex
Article ID : IBD090003  [34963]  
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4. A month starts when the new moon is seen regardless of whether this occured before, after or at the actual possible sighting.

It has to be emphasised that unifying Muslims and bringing their word together is one of our main concerns; it is a heavy responsibility that no Muslim should neglect. However, true unity cannot be achieved in any other way than what conforms with the Quraan and the Authentic Sunnah and the guidance of the Righteous Salaf (pious predecessors). Any other claim to unity is unrealistic and short lived.

We call upon all Muslims to get involved in worship to attain the blessings of Ramadaan instead of wasting their time and energies in futile arguments and disagreements. May Allah (T) enable us to follow the Sunnah in all our beliefs and deeds.


Those for Whom the Fast During Ramadaan Is Not Obligatory

The Traveller
The traveller can choose between fasting or not. Allah (T) said, which means:

{... And whoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast) the same number of days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you ...} [Baqarah 2 :185]

Hamza bin Amr aI-Aslamee, who used to fast frequently, asked the Messenger (S): "Do I have to fast if I am travelling?" The Messenger (S) said: "Fast if you wish or break, the fast if you wish." [Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Anas bin Maalik said: "I was travelling with the Messenger of Allah (S) during Ramadaan. and those who fasted did not blame those who did not fast, and neither did those who did not fast blame those who fasted" [Bukhaaree and Muslim]

The above hadeeths indicate that there is a choice for the traveller between fasting and leaving off the fast but does not indicate which of the two ways is better. However, from the following hadeeth we can deduce that it is better not to fast while on a journey. The Messenger (S) said: "Verily Allah loves that His concessions be accepted just as He hates to be disobeyed." [Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan].

Not to fast on a journey is the better choice for the one who finds no hardship in fasting later to make up the missed days. It must be noted also that it is not righteousness for a weak traveller to fast as the Messenger (S) said: "It is not righteousness that you fast while on journey." [Bukhaaree and Muslim].

Note: Some people think that because the ways of travelling have become easier, this ruling of breaking the fast on a journey does not apply any longer. This is a serious misconception, because Allah (T) devised His Laws for all times and places:

{My Lord never errs nor does He forget} [Taa Haa 20:52]

The Sick person
Because of His Mercy, Allah (T) has allowed for the sick person not to fast, to make it easy on him. The type of sickness that allows a sick person not to fast is that which, if he fasts, would cause him harm or prolong the illness. And Allah (T) knows best.

States of Menses or Post-childbirth Bleeding
The scholars have unanimously agreed that it is not allowed for the woman who is having her menstrual period and the woman who is affected with post-childbirth bleeding to fast. They should break their fast and make up the days later. They also agree that if they fast then no rewards would accrue to them.

The Old Man and Old Woman
Mujahid narrated that Ibn 'Abbaas recited: {... And as for those who cannot fast (with difficulty e.g. an old man), they have to feed a person (for every day) ... } [Baqarah 2: 1 84] and then he said: "That refers to the old person who is not able to fast. He must feed a poor person a half saa' (two handfuls) of grains for everyday missed" .

Abu Huraira said: "Whoever reaches old age and is not able to fast in Ramadaan, then for every day he must give away one mudd of wheat". [Ad-Daarimi]

The pregnant and the breast-feeding women
Allaah's (T) great mercy towards the weak is His concession for them not to fast. Included in this category are the pregnant and breast-feeding women.

Anas Ibn Maalik said: "The horses of the Messenger of Allah (S) came towards us, so I came up to the Messenger of Allah (S) and I found him eating. He (S) said: "Come closer and eat." I said: "I am fasting." He (S) said: "Come closer and let me tell you about fasting. Indeed Allaah has reduced the salaat (prayer) for the traveller to the half and has removed the burden of the fasting from the pregnant and the breast-feeding woman... " [At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasai].


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