What Must I Do About Fasts Missed During Pregnancy?

11 April, 2019
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I know a woman who has nine children; she has breastfed them all for a long time. She tried to fast during Ramadan, but on some days she couldn't. She tried to make up for those days but found that while breastfeeding, she could make up for only a few; shortly after, she became pregnant again. Many times she was pregnant and breastfeeding at the same time. She continued in this cycle for about 16 years. Now after all these years, she wants to make up for her missed fasting days but has lost count. She feels very guilty about this and would like to start fasting Mondays and Thursdays to make up for missed fast days. What should she do?

Answer

Wa`alaykum as-salam wa r ahmatullahi wa b arakatuh.

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:

1- Muslim scholars unanimously have agreed that a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding is allowed not to fast in Ramadan if fasting may be detrimental to her or the baby.

2- However, Muslim scholars disagreed whether she is required to make up for the days she missed or to only pay fidyah.


In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam, which every adult Muslim, male or female, must observe unless exempt for reasons sanctioned in the Shari`ah.

According to the consensus of scholars, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are considered as one of those who are exempt from fasting if it has been determined that fasting is deleterious to their health or the health of their infants or both.

But having agreed on this issue, however, scholars have different views on how they are supposed to compensate for the missed fasts.

According to the Hanafi School, women who skip fasts because of pregnancy or breastfeeding ought to make up for them when their circumstances become favorable; there is no obligation on them to offer fidyah.

Both the Shafi`i and Hanbali Schools, however, hold the view that such women ought to do both: making up for the days thus missed besides offering a fidyah for each day of fasts — provided they have skipped fasts because of fear for the health of their infants. If, on the other hand, they skipped fasting because of fear for their own health or for both (i.e. fear for their health as well as the health of their children), then they need only to make up for them; they are not required  in this case to offer fidyah.

A third view has been reported from Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar, both Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and some other scholars. They say that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not obligated to make up for the fasts they missed; they are required only to offer fidyah.

According to them, their case is comparable to those who are advanced in age or terminally ill who are required only to offer fidyah.

Ibn Abbas considers this to be the precise meaning of the verse, “and those who are unable to fast should offer fidyah.”  (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

He said, this is directed to those who are advanced in age, those who are terminally ill and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

In the case of the woman you have mentioned, because of her specific circumstances, she may very well follow the last mentioned ruling.

In other words, she needs only to offer fidyah if she finds herself unable to make up for the fasts she has missed in this way.

It is worthy of mentioning here that there are scholars who endorse the view of Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar saying: There is no report of any of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) contradicting their views in this regard.

So if that is the case, then it seems to be an acceptable position on this issue to be worthy of adherence and authentication.

In conclusion, it is only reasonable to suggest that she offers fidyah for the fasts she has skipped because of breastfeeding or pregnancy. If she has lost count of the number of days, then she ought to make an educated guess, and offer fidyah accordingly.

Fidyah involves feeding a poor person for each missed day of fast. It is estimated to be approximately seven Canadian dollars; thus, if she has missed 30 days of fasts, she should offer in charity US$210.00 to the poor. She may give the amount locally to the poor directly, or she may entrust it with the reputable charities to distribute to those in need locally or overseas.

May Allah help us all to expiate for deficiencies in our Prayers and fasts, and may He accept all of our good deeds from us, amen.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.