Fasting while on a Journey
Jābir bin ‘Abdillāh (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) stated: “Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) departed for Makkah in the month of Ramadān in the year of the conquest. He and the people fasted until they reached Kurā’ Al-Ghamīm. He then called for a cup of water which he raised so that the people could see it and then he drank. He was later told that some of the people continued to fast, so he said: ‘They are disobedient, they are disobedient.’” In a narration, it is reported that he was told: “Fasting has become difficult upon some of the people and they are waiting to see what you will do.” So, he called for a cup of water, and it was after ‘Asr, and he drank from it.
This hadīth is concerning the breaking of the fast for the traveller which is proven by the statement of Allah (the Most High):
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ
“Observing fasts are for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number should be made up from other days.” And He (the Most) stated:
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.”
So the permissibility of breaking the fast while on a journey is proven by the Qur’ān, the Sunnah and ijmā’ (consensus).
The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) left out from Madinah to Makkah as a traveller in the year of the conquest of Makkah, which was the 8th year after the Hijrah. The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (radiyallāhu ‘anhum) were fasting until they reached a valley between Makkah and Madinah near ‘Asfān called Kurā’ Al-Ghamīm. He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) called for a vessel of water, then he raised it up so that everyone could see and follow suit. That is because he was their example. And the second narration made it clear why he did that: “Fasting has become difficult upon some of the people and they are waiting to see what you will do.” So, they followed him in breaking the fast―however, some of the people continued to fast so he admonished them because this was an allowance given by Allah (the Most High), so they should take His allowance. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Indeed Allah loves to grant His allowances just as He dislikes to be disobeyed.”
From the benefits of this hadīth are the following points:
- Permissibility of breaking the fast for the traveller.
- People should take their example from the people of knowledge. They clarify and announce the regulations of the Sharī’ah so that the people understand and know what to do.
- This narration proves that if a person begins his fast, then embarks upon a journey, he is not obliged to complete his fast.
- It proves that a person who refuses an allowance in the Sunnah while he is need of it is considered to be disobedient because Allah loves that the allowance is taken.
- The hadīth shows the ease of the Sharī’ah―the religion does not over-burden the people, and Allah does not love that the people put themselves through hardship after Allah has given them allowances and ease.
Hamzah bin ‘Amr Al-Aslami (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said: “O Messenger of Allah, I find in me the strength to fast on a journey so is there any sin on me?” Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) answered: “It is an allowance given by Allah and whoever loves to fast, there is no sin on him.”
In this hadīth, Hamzah bin ‘Amr (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) informed Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) that he found no difficulty in fasting while on a journey so Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) informed him that breaking it is an allowance (rukhsah). And this hadīth explains the one that came before it, i.e. that the traveller who is strong enough to fast has the choice to fast or break his fast if he wishes. As for the one who does not have the strength and finds it difficult, then it is better for him to break his fast―however, if he continues to fast, then his fast is sound and accepted. So, from the previous hadīth of Jābir (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) wherein the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “they are disobedient” ―it is not to be understood that fasting on a journey is prohibited. Rather, it is to be understood to mean that if fasting on a journey is proving to be difficult, then it is better to break the fast. But, if it is not difficult on a person, then he the matter is open for him―he may continue to fast or break his fast.
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 Muslim (no. 1114).
 Al-Baqarah: 184.
 Al-Baqarah: 185.
 Ahmad in Al-Musnad (no. 5766), Ibn Hibbān (no. 2742), and it is sahīh.
 Muslim (no. 1121, 107).
 See also Tas’hīl al-Ilmām of Shaikh Al-Fawzān (vol. 3).
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