Is it permissible to give fidyah for fasting before the month of Ramadan starts?

The Details of the Question

Is it appropriate for a person who knows that he will not be able to fast in the month of Ramadan due to a legitimate reason to give fidyah before the month of Ramadan starts? Is it necessary to wait for the month of Ramadan to start to give fidyah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The religion of Islam holds people responsible based on their power; it introduces facilitative decrees related to the cases that are beyond the power of people or that cause problems.

In accordance with that general principle, Islam introduced some permissions related to postponing the worship of fasting in the month of Ramadan based on some conditions.  

The following is stated in the Quran:

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,- (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” (al-Baqara, 2/183-184)

Acting upon the verses above and the hadiths regarding the issue, Islamic scholars state that one of the excuses that make it permissible not to fast in Ramadan is very old age. Those who are too old to fast can give fidyah instead of fasting. The same thing is valid for the ill people who have no hope of recovering.

Accordingly, one fidyah is given for every day of fasting that is skipped due to having a permanent drawback to fasting like having an illness that is impossible to recover from and being too old. The ill and old people who will definitely not fast in Ramadan can give one fidyah for every day at the beginning of Ramadan if they wish.

However, it is not appropriate for them to give fidyah before Ramadan.

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