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Who has to fast in Ramadan?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding fasting? What are the conditions for fasting to be obligatory?

Answer:

When the following conditions are met, fasting will become obligatory on an individual.

  1. Islam – One must be a Muslim
  2. Puberty – An individual is not a mukallaf, bound to carry out the commands of shari’ah, until they have reached puberty. A mukallaf is expected to complete any given injunction. An injunction will only be fulfilled if the individual has full understanding and control over his own actions. Being a child excludes one from these abilities.
  3. Sanity – It is futile to try and make an insane individual fulfil a command of shari’ah, therefore fasting is not obligatory upon such a person. If someone has impaired their judgement by an impermissible act of their own, such as becoming intoxicated due to drinking alcohol, then it will be obligatory for them to make up the fast.
  4. The strength to keep a fast – Having strength is measured in the following ways:
    1. Being healthy – Fasting is not obligatory upon an individual who does not have the strength to keep a fast due to ill health. If there is a chance of recovery, the fast will be made up later. If it is a terminal illness/weakness due to old age, then fidya will be paid for each fast that is missed.
    2. Resident – Fasting is not obligatory on a person who is considered a traveller in the shari’ah.
    3. Fasting will not be obligatory upon a woman who is menstruating or experiencing post-natal bleeding.

The Imams of the four schools of shari’ah all agree that fasting will be obligatory on every Muslim who is sane, mature, a resident, has the strength to fast, and is not experiencing menstrual or post-natal bleeding.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This Fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari