What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding a person who does not have the ability to keep the fast. The person is also not in a position pay the fidya. What must he now do?
Fasting has been made obligatory upon every sane, adult, male and female Muslim on condition that they are physically able to do so. If a person is unable to fast from true dawn till sunset for a valid reason such as an illness, then they have been given permission to leave the fast. If a person is advised by a Muslim medical professional that fasting will cause one’s health to worsen, then it becomes wajib for a person not to fast.
If the illness is temporary and then upon recovery a person will make up any missed fasts. If there is no chance of recovering, such as old age or a long-term illness, then a person will pay fidya. This is an expiatory payment given to a poor person, equivalent to 2kg of wheat, for each fast missed. This will be the ruling if a person is financially able to do so. However, if one is financially struggling and unable to afford the fidya, then there is nothing obliged upon him.
This is a mercy from Allah ﷻ that those who are in such a difficulty have been given an exemption. When discussing fasting, the Holy Qur’an states: “Allah intends ease for you, not hardship.” (Surah al-Baqarah: 185) In another verse it says… “and laid upon you no hardship in the religion.” (Surah Haj: 78) “And do not let your own hands throw you into destruction.” (Surah al-Baqarah: 195)
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra has narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Do what I command you to the best of your ability and capacity.” (Bukhari)
And Allah ﷻ knows the best
This fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari