Have you ever walked into a room and seen a Muslim eating, even though you know it’s Ramadan? ARE THEY NOT FASTING!?!
Yes, Ramadan is a sacred month in which Muslims observe fasting but there are some Muslims who are exempted from fasting during this Holy Month.
يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِكُمُ ٱلْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ ٱلْعُسْرَ
Allah ﷻ emphasises that He “intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.”Quran 2:185
Who is exempt from fasting during Ramadan?
The Quran states that fasting is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable of doing so. However, there are some exemptions.
- Children who have not reached puberty
- Individuals who are travelling long distances
- Individuals who are ill or have a medical condition that could worsen due to fasting
- Elderly people who cannot bear the strain of fasting
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women who fear for their health or the health of their child
- Women who are menstruating or experiencing postnatal bleeding
- Individuals who are experiencing extreme hunger or thirst that could harm their health
Why are they exempt?
The exemptions are intended to make fasting easier for those who are not physically or mentally capable of doing so. Fasting can be physically demanding, and exemptions allow Muslims to prioritise their health and well-being while still fulfilling their religious obligations. Islam is a religion of balance and recognises the physical and emotional capabilities for each person and hence contains such accommodations.
What do they do instead?
Making up for missed fasts
Those who are exempt from fasting during Ramadan are required to make up for missed fasts at a later time.
وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍۢ فَعِدَّةٌۭ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِكُمُ ٱلْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ ٱلْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا۟ ٱلْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَىٰكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
The Quran states, “And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe the fast must be made up] from other days.”Quran 2:185
This means that those who are exempt from fasting during Ramadan must make up for missed fasts when they are able to do so, outside of the month of Ramadan.
Giving in charity as an alternative
For those who are unable to fast due to a chronic illness or permanent health condition, giving in charity is an alternative to fasting.
فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍۢ فَعِدَّةٌۭ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُۥ فِدْيَةٌۭ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍۢ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًۭا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌۭ لَّهُۥ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا۟ خَيْرٌۭ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
The Quran states. “But whoever of you is ill or on a journey, then let them fast an equal number of days after Ramadan. For those who can only fast with extreme difficulty, compensation can be made by feeding a needy person for every day not fasted. But whoever volunteers to give more, it is better for them. And to fast is better for you, if only you knew.”Quran 2:184
This allows individuals who are unable to fast to still contribute to their community in a meaningful way.
Written by Aishah Navaid