Permission for the Elderly and the Permanently Sick to Break their Fast ―and other Categories of People who are Allowed to Break the Fast. And what is to be done instead? Qadā and Fidyah

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Permission for the Elderly to Break the Fast and the Permanently Sick

Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) stated: “Permission was granted to the old man that he may break his fast and instead to feed a poor person for every day missed, and not to make up the fasts.”[1]

So this is another type of allowance. The old man who is not able to fast and is of sound mind is commanded to pay fidyah (recompense). This fidyah is to feed a poor person for each day missed with half a sā’ which is 1.2 kilograms[2] of staple food (per day). There is no qadā (making up) of the fast for him because he is unable just as Allah (the Most High) stated:

وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ

“And as for those who can only fast with difficulty (an old man, etc.), they have to feed a poor person for each day.”[3]

This also applies to those who are permanently sick, and recovery is not expected ―so upon them, too, is the command, “they have to feed a poor person for each day.” And fidyah (compensation) replaces the fast.

As for the one who is expected to recover from his illness, then he must make up the fasts (qadā) that he has missed in accordance with the saying of Allah (the Most High):  

وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ

“And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days.”[4]

These are the categories of people who are allowed to break the fast:

1. The traveller, who must make up what he has missed (qadā).
2. The sick person who is expected to recover. He must also make up what he has missed (qadā).
3. The sick person who is not expected to recover from his illness. His fidyah (compensation) is to feed a poor person for each day missed with 1.2 kilograms of staple food.
4. The old man or woman who can break their fast (or not fast to begin with) ―they each feed a poor person for every day they missed (fidyah) and they do not make up the fast.
5. The menstruating woman or the one who is bleeding after childbirth (postpartum blood). It is forbidden for them to fast, and they must make up whatever days they have missed (qadā). And if they fast, their fast is invalidated.

From this discussion, it is clear that those who are allowed to break the fast fall into one of two categories:

1. They break the fast and make qadā (make up the days missed at a later stage).

2. Break the fast and do not make up the fast but instead give fidyah in the form of staple food to the poor (not cash).

Note: Fidyah is not paid in cash, it is given in food.

Read also: “Pregnant and breastfeeding women who missed their fasts in Ramadān ―Should they make up the days or feed a poor person for each day missed?”

© Copyright 2020―Complete articles are not allowed to be copied and distributed from this website, but short excerpts with their URL links can be shared freely.

[1] Ad-Dāruqutni (2/205) and Al-Hākim (1/440) both of whom graded it sahīh and Adh-Dhahabi agreed in his At-Talkhīs (1/440).

[2] Source: Al-‘Allāmah, Ash-Shaikh Ahmad bin Yahyā An-Najmi (rahimahullāh) dated 27/7/1425 AH. I have a copy of this document of our Shaikh, may Allah have mercy upon him.

[3] Al-Baqarah: 184.

[4] Al-Baqarah: 185.

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  1. Asslamu aleykum, what about the people who have hard physical job that too in summer and they are not able to take days off? Jajak Allah hu khairain.

    • Wa alaikumus-salām,

      They must fast. If they fall sick, they can break the fast and make-up later. Or they can take shorter hours at work or take a break from work for the month, or work less days a week (if they are able).

  2. Assalamu alaikum!
    Barokallahu fiikum!
    Is it allowed to the breastfeeding woman to suckle her child during fasting and she fasts?

  3. Assalaamu ‘alaykum Shaykh,

    What about breaking of fast for the first-timers (e.g. children turning teens/reaching puberty) as a beginner’s first excuse/trial and the ruling for it as regards to making up or compensation, if any?

    JazaakAllaahu Khayran. Baarak Allaahu feek.

    • Wa ‘alaikum as-salām,

      Fasting is obligatory on every adult (post-pubescent person) who is sane, resident in his town or city, sane and not sick. Children who have not reached adulthood are not obligated to fast but can be encouraged to fast to join the Muslims and to train them (but not forced to fast).

  4. As salamu alaykoum shaykh, my niece has serious illness that I do not want to mention the name of the disease and she takes medication 4 times a day which include: morning, afternoon and evening, would please in shaa Allah tell me which categories of the fasting person she will fall into. She told me the doctor warned her not to stop taking the medication otherwise her condition will deteriorated. BarakAllahu feekum.

    • wa-alaikumus-salām,

      Such a person does not fast due to illness. If they are expected to recover, then they must make up their fasts when they are well. If they are not expected to recover, they pay fidyah for each day missed.

  5. As-Salaam Alyekum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barkatahu
    Jazakallahu khairan Ustadh fir the article

    1. Can fidyah for old person we paid at once in beginning for 30 days missed fast in advance or at the end of Ramadan

    2. Can we give rice or wheat 36 kg bag ( 30 x 1.2 kg ) to poor at once ?

    Barakallahu feekum

    • Wa-alaikumus-salām-wa-rahmatullāhi-wa-barakātuhu

      Yes, inshā’-Allāh. The scholars allow that.

  6. As Salaamu a’layk

    Can a pregnant woman send money to their country for fidyah? A family member will purchase food and distribute it to the poor, is this permissible?

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