Can European Muslim Students Break Their Fast due to Exams?
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Can European Muslim Students Break Their Fast due to Exams?

Questioner

Jaweed

Reply Date

May 24, 2018

Question

This year, Ramadan coincides with the high school exams in Europe. The exams cannot be postponed and they have a great effect on determining the students’ academic and professional future. Fasting may negatively affect the students’ concentration and study, especially with the long days and short nights of Europe’s summer. Can Muslim students break their fast because of these exams?

Mufti

Answer


Can Muslim Students in Europe Break Their Fast due to Exams?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

Muslim students who know through experience, or who strongly believe, that fasting will adversely affect their performance during exams –and when they actually fast they find it too difficult to focus on their study- are allowed to break their fast and make up for it later, on the condition that they start the days of exams or exam preparation fasting and break the fast only when it becomes difficult for them to continue the fast.


To answer your question we quote the following fatwa by Dr. Khaled Hanafi, Head of the fatwa committee in Germany and member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR):

Students’ abilities to fast during exams vary; some students lose concentration after a few hours of fast while others can continue fasting. Therefore, we cannot give one ruling for all the students.

While I affirm the importance of fasting, its blessings, and its direct positive effect on worldly success, I also emphasize the principle of easing hardships related to obligations; when things get difficult, the rulings get easy. I also stress that worships are compatible with people’s life and conditions.

So, Muslim students who know through experience, or who strongly believe, that fasting will adversely affect their performance during exams –and when they actually fast they find it too difficult to focus on their study- are allowed to break their fast and make up for it later, on the condition that they start the days of exams or exam preparation fasting and break the fast only when it becomes difficult for them to continue the fast. This ruling should not be extended to other days.

This is based on the following:

1- The fatwa issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which states:

If a student fears that the long hours of fasting during Ramadan will make him very exhausted and make it too difficult for him to focus while doing the exams, and he cannot postpone the exam, then he is allowed to break the fast to avoid this hardship. He has to make up for the days he did not fast later. Allah Almighty said: {Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship} (Al-Baqarah 2:185) Fatwa 25/6)

2- Two reasons that entail easing the fasting rule for European Muslim students are combined in this question, namely the very long day time and the exams.

 3- The analogy to the ruling mentioned by scholars regarding workers:

“If a worker had a pressing need for work during Ramadan daytime, or feared that his property will be damaged if he does not handle it, or that his crop will be stolen if he does not harvest it, then he is allowed to work while fasting even if work will lead him to break the fast due to fear of extreme fatigue. He is not obliged to complete the fast; he is required only to make up for the days” [Kuwaiti Fiqhi Encyclopedia]

In our age, exams are more important and have greater impact on the students than the examples mentioned above. So, if it is allowed to break the fast in these cases; then it is, with greater reason, allowed due to exams.

4- Scholars defined illness that entails exemption from fasting as sickness that causes difficulty of fasting greater than the difficulty caused by travel. In fact, the difficulty of fasting during exams in summer’s long days exceeds, or is equal to, the difficulty caused by sickness and travel. So, it is allowed for a student to break the fast for exam if he was not able to observe it.

5- This ruling contributes to the collective, civilizational fiqh that we aspire to in this age in general, and in the European context in particular as it enables Muslims to practice their religion while heeding the particularities of their time and place; it achieves the objective of seeking to educate people about Islam and refutes the notion that worship could cause Muslims to academically lag behind.

Almighty Allah knows best.




About Dr Khaled Hanafi

Dr Khaled Hanafi, Head of the Fatwa Committee in Germany and member of the ECFR

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