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A person who cannot keep a qadha fast or give fidya

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding an individual who is unable to fast due to being ill. They are also poor and are unable to pay any fidya. What should they do in such a situation?

Answer:

Allah ﷻ has conditioned fasting with the ability and good health of an individual. If a person is unable to refrain from eating or drinking from true dawn till sunset, then shari’ah has given them the option to leave fasting. The emphasis on looking after one’s health is such that if an expert Muslim doctor advises against fasting due to one’s health then it becomes necessary for a person to leave the fast.

Allah ﷻ has mentioned in the Holy Qur’an when talking about fasting: “Allah intends ease for you, not hardship.” (Surah al-Baqarah: 185) In another verse it states: “And laid upon you no hardship in the religion.” (Surah al-Hajj: 78) Likewise, “And do not let your own hands throw you into destruction.” (Surah al-Baqarah: 195)

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra narrates that the Prophet ﷺ stated, “When I command you to do something, then do it to the best of your ability.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

If one’s illness is temporary, then upon recovery a qadha fast will be performed for each missed fast. If recovery from the illness is highly unlikely, such as a terminal illness or old age then instead of a qadha fast, a person will give a fidya for each missed fast. A fidya is to feed a poor person two meals a day for each missed fast. Again, this is if the individual themselves have the financial means to do so. If the person who has missed a fast is too ill to perform the qadha, and is financially struggling to cover his own cost and the costs of any dependants, then nothing is obliged upon him to compensate for any missed fasts.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

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