Should those who have difficulty in performing fasting due to their conditions perform fasting later or pay fidya?

The Details of the Question

Should those who have difficulty in performing fasting due to their conditions perform fasting later or pay fidya?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verb “yutiquna" mentioned in verse 184 of the chapter of al-Baqara translated as “do it (with hardship)" can be understood differently in terms of linguistics and reading styles; therefore, some scholars understood it as “those who can fast". According to this second understanding, this choice was introduced at the beginning so that the believers would get used to fasting; those who could fast were given the permission to pay fidya if they wished instead of fasting. Afterwards, this permission was annulled and those who could fast were ordered to fast.

According to our translation and understanding, those who have difficulty in fasting due to their body structure and the circumstances they live in and those who fear that they will get ill or will not be able to do the job they have to do can pay fidya for every day that they miss fasting instead of performing fasting. In the past, those who were weak due to old age, breastfeeding and pregnant women were mentioned among “those who had difficulty in fasting”. It is unanimously agreed that the old people can pay fidya. As for the other two groups, according to Imam Shafii and Malik, they pay fidya and perform fasting when their excuses end. According to Hanafis, the people in these two groups do not pay fidya; they perform fasting later as qada for the days that they have missed.

Many fiqh scholars hold the view that those who do hard works like casters, miners, concrete workers, construction workers and porters are included in the group that “have difficulty in fasting”. If they have difficulty or if their difficulty continues in the other days of the year too, they can pay fidyah instead of fasting.

Fidya is the amount of daily food for a poor person. Fiqh scholars determined its amount as one “mudd” of wheat, barley or dates. According to some researchers, one mudd for Hanafis is 924 grams of barley/dates. Those food items were basic food items in the region during the time of the Prophet. In other times and places, fidya should be determined as “the amount of basic foods of medium quality for one day". This is the minimum amount of fidya. According to the verse, to give more will be good for a person both in the world and in the hereafter. (see also al-Maida, 5/89)

Ill people and travelers are given the permission not to fast and to perform fasting as qada afterwards for each day but they are advised to perform fasting if there is not an important difficulty and drawback with the phrase “it is better for you that ye fast". There are some fiqh scholars who understand this phrase as “in general, fasting brings about good things for people"; they claim that it is not related to performing fasting by ill people and travelers.

According to this understanding, it is not necessary to force oneself by saying, “it is better to fast despite having an excuse".


Hayrettin Karaman (Prof. Dr.)

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