The One Who Died While He Still Had Fasts To Make Up From Ramadān ―What Should Be Done?

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Whoever died while he still had Fasts to make up

‘Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever dies while he still has fasts to make up, then his next of kin fasts them on his behalf.”[1]

The one who dies and still has days to make up from Ramadān, or kaffārah (expiation) fasts due to a sin or fasts of a vow made to Allah (nahdr), then the scholars have differed regarding this matter into two opinions:

The first group of scholars stated that the ruling in the hadīth is general. Whoever died and there were fasts for him to make up of any kind, whether from Ramadān, or expiation or a vow, then the next of kin (or a close relative who inherits from the deceased) makes up those fasts for him. It is reported in a hadīth: A woman came to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and she asked him concerning he mother who had died and she had fasts to make up, so he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Is it not the case that if your mother had a debt, you would pay it?” She responded: “Yes.” So, he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Allah has more right that His debt is paid.”[2]

The second group of scholars stated that whatever is obligated by the origin of the Sharī’ah such as the fasts of Ramadan is not to be fasted by one person on behalf of another. Deputing this act to another is not permitted. However, if the deceased left behind wealth, it can be used to feed a person for each day he had to make up. If he had no wealth, then if one of his close relatives wishes to feed a poor person for each day, then that is a good deed. And this was the opinion of Shaikh Al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullāh) and Al-Imām Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh). This position is more correct out of the two for the following reason:

The first opinion states that whoever has a fast to make up, regardless of which fast it is, must be made up by the next of kin due to the saying of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “Whoever dies while he still has fasts to make up, then his next of kin fasts them on his behalf.” So, this applies to all types of fasts. However, the proponents of the second opinion state that one should distinguish between that which is obligated by the Sharī’ah (i.e. by Allah’s command) and that which is obligated by a person upon himself. This is proven by a version of the hadīth of the woman who came to Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) which states: “A woman asked the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), ‘My mother died and she still had fasts to make up for an oath she took.’[3] So, this narration specifies which fast she was referring to. And a narration which is general is referred back to that which is specific to gain the correct understanding of the Sharī’ah. So, based on this principle, the hadīth which stated: “Whoever dies while he still has fasts to make up” refers to fasts of an oath due to the saying of the woman: “My mother died and she still had fasts to make up for an oath she took.” And this was the preferred opinion of Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Imām Ibn Al-Qayyim.[4]

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[1] Al-Bukhāri (no. 1952), Muslim (no. 1147).

[2] Al-Bukhāri (no. 1953), Muslim (no. 1148).

[3] Al-Bukhāri (no. 1953).

[4] See At-Tamhīd (9/28, 20/27), Al-Lubāb (1/82), Al-Muhaddhab (1/334), Al-Mughni (3/84, 11/370), Ihkām Al-Ahkām (1/23), Fat-hul-Bāri (4/193), Sharh An-Nawawi ‘alā Muslim (8/25), and summarised from Tas-hīl Al-Ilmām of Al-‘Allāmah Sālih Al-Fawzān (3/238-239).

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