Question # 202: If a person is very old n can’t keep fast due to illness and he doesn’t have the source to pay fidyah (amount payable in case of not keeping fast due to some illness) so what is Islamic ruling about that person?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: If fasting is too difficult for an old person and will cause him/her intense hardship, then he/she is not required to fast, but should feed one poor person for each day. If he/she is also unable to feed a poor person, he/she does not have to do anything because “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:286).

Long Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).[Observing Sawm (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:183-184)

Al-Bukhari narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: This has not been abrogated. It refers to old men and old women who are not able to fast, so they should feed a poor person for each day.

Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni: “If fasting is too difficult for an old man or an old woman, and will cause them intense hardship, then they are allowed not to fast, and they should feed one poor person for each day. If they are also unable to feed a poor person, then they do not have to do anything, for “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:286)…”

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…If [one] is poor and is unable to feed a poor person, then [he/] she does not have to do anything…” (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)

(The above reply is based on answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on similar issue)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam