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Faith, LIFE

The Traveller In Ramadan

Posted: Jul 10, 2015 at 12:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

If he travels a distance that four unit prayers (raka’aat) could be shortened, he is allowed to break his fast. The Qur’an says: ‘…and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (should fast the same) number of other days…’ (Al-Baqarah, 2:184). 

Some people among the righteous predecessors (salaf) have a strange opinion on breaking the fast when somebody is on a journey. According to them, if Ramadan starts before you undertake your journey you cannot enjoy Allah’s concession of breaking the fast in case you decide to travel later; the verse directs: ‘Whoever among you is present, let him fast the month…’ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 184); so, they further postulate that breaking of fast on a journey is for those who happen to be travelling before the commencement of Ramadan – the period of the fast actually meets them during their journey. They are the only ones permitted to suspend fasting, and to repay the missed days later. This is indeed strange! How could they say that, when Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace of Allah be upon, was reported to have gone out with a group of his companions in the month of Ramadan during the Conquest of Makkah; they were all fasting, but when they reached a place called ‘kudaid’ the Prophet (SAW) terminated his fast by eating something in the daytime, and ordered all the people with him to break their fast.

Second, some other Sahaabah and Tabi’een said, it is obligatory to break the fast whenever you are travelling because Allah said whoever is on a journey ‘(should fast the same) number of other days…’

What is more authentic in this regard is the position of the majority of the scholars, that it is a matter of choice, not obligation. The Sahabah would undertake journeys with the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in the month of Ramadan, some of them observing the fast, while others not fasting. Those who were fasting would not rebuke those who were not. If breaking the fast on a journey were mandatory, the Prophet (SAW) would not have allowed them to fast. Moreover, it has been established that his practice (SAW) during travel was to observe the fast. On the authority of Abud-Dar Daa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said, ‘We set out on a journey with the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in the month of Ramadan; the weather was so that some of us were using their hands to cover their foreheads. None of us was fasting but the Messenger of Allah and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaahah.’

Third, a group, among whom was Ashaafi’ee, said, observing the fast on a journey is better than breaking it because as we mentioned earlier the Prophet observed the fast during his trips. Another group countered this and preferred that we break the fast when we travel in order to benefit from this concession granted by Allah to those on a journey to make up the same number of other days. Moreover, some scholars put the two positions on the same level, that it is acceptable to fast or break it on a journey. This, according to them, was based on Aisha’s Hadeeth concerning Hamza ibn ‘Amr al-Aslamy who said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (SAW), I fast frequently, shall I also fast even when I travel? The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘If you want you can, otherwise you may break the fast.’ So on the authority of this Hadeeth, the scholars said, when you are on a journey, you have two choices, to fast or not to fast.

It is said that where there is hardship, breaking the fast is preferred. Jabir,  (may Allah be pleased with them) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saw a man covered by sunshade, and he asked, ‘What is this?’ The people said, ‘He is fasting.’ He (SAW) said, ‘It is not part of righteousness to fast on a journey.’

Forth, what is the ruling on making up of missed days? Are we to repay such fast consecutively or we can split the days according to our convenience? There are two opinions:

We have to make up for missed days in Ramadan consecutively because fasting Ramadan and repayment of missed days after it are one and the same thing.

No, repayment of missed days could be split according to your convenience.

The second position is obviously better. It is the position of the majority of scholars, and all authorities are in support of it. We must fast Ramadan consecutive as that command affects the whole month. Ramadan must be observed in fast for the whole month. But repayment could be done at any time throughout the year, splitting the days or observing them consecutively. That is the meaning of: (for) him who is on a journey, he (should fast the same) number of other days…’

Making up of missed days could be done according to one’s convenience. It’s not mandatory to fast such days consecutively. Aisha, (may Allah be pleased with her), for example, used to make up her missed days in Sha’baan (the last month before Ramadan of the following year). So, it’s according to one’s convenience, not consecutively. The Qur’an says: ‘(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.’ (Al-Baqarah, 2:184). Therefore, whoever breaks fast in Ramadan due to menstrual blood, illness or travel, they should make up the exact days missed after Ramadan consecutively or severally.

Now, if you delay the repayment of such fast until another Ramadan, you will fast the current Ramadan and resume your repayment afterwards. The late resumption, for example, one year’s delay in making up of missed days will not attract feeding of the indigent (fidyah) whether there was genuine or otherwise reason for the delay. This is the Hanafi position as well as Imam Hasan al-Basree. Imams Malik, Ash-Sahaafi’ee, Ahmad and Ishaaq concurred on the fact that such delay will not attract fidyah if the reason is genuine. They differed, however, with Hanafi where there was not a good reason for the delay in repayment. To them whoever breaks fast in Ramadan and delays repayment until another Ramadan should fast the current Ramadan then make up for missed days plus feeding the needy (fidyah) daily in proportion to the number of days missed.

Making up of missed days as soon as possible is better because death can strike at any time. Now, if that happens, can one’s heirs or relatives fast on their behalf?

There are varied opinions among Muslim scholars in the case of a person who misses days in Ramadan, is able to make up but does not and then dies without repaying such fast. Majority of the scholars say somebody among his heirs or relatives should not fast on his behalf, but they shall feed the indigent daily for the number of days missed.

The preferred position among the Shafi’ee School is for such heir or relative to fast on behalf of the deceased and, in which case, there’s no need of feeding the needy. “Whoever dies without repaying his fast, his relatives should fast for him.” (Hadeeth)

On the authority of Ibn Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, that a man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! My mother died without repaying the fast of a complete month; shall I fast on her behalf?’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, answered and said unto him: ‘If your mother had left an unpaid debt, would you have settled it on her behalf?’ ‘Yes’, the man answered. ‘Then’, the Prophet continued, ‘Allah’s debt is more worthy of repayment.’