Question # 41: A woman who skipped fasting Ramadan due to 1) pregnancy and 2) breastfeeding need to cover up the missed fasts or can feeding the poor compensate for it?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

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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: Pregnant and breastfeeding women come under the same ruling as those who are sick. If it is too difficult for them to fast then it is prescribed for them not to fast, but they have to make up the fasts when they are able to do so, like those who are sick. Some of the scholars are of the view that it is sufficient for them to feed one poor person for every day they missed, but this is a weak view. The correct view is that they have to make up missed fasts, just like travelers and those who are sick.

Long Answer:  The scholars differed concerning the ruling on pregnant woman and breastfeeding mothers if they do not fast. There are several opinions.

  • That they have to make up the fasts only. This is the view of Imam Abu Haneefah (may Allah have mercy on him). Among the Sahaabah, it was the view of ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (رضي الله عنه).
  • That if they fear for themselves, they have to make up the fast only, and if they fear for their children then they have to make up the fasts and feed one poor person for each day. This is the view of Imam al-Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad. Al-Jassaas also narrated this from Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه).
  • That they have to feed the poor only, and do not have to make up the fasts. Among the Sahaabah, this was the view of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas (رضي الله عنه). Ibn Qudaamah also narrated this in al-Mughni from Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه).

Abu Dawood narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas and ‘Ali that this phrase – “those who can fast with difficulty” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:184) was a concession granted to old men and old women who find it difficult to fast, allowing them not to fast and to feed one poor person for each day instead, and the same for pregnant and breastfeeding women if they are afraid. Abu Dawood said: i.e., for their children – they may not fast and may feed (the poor) instead. Al-Nawawi said: its isnaad is hasan.

Al-Jassaas narrated in Ahkaam al-Qur’aan that the scholars differed concerning this issue. He said:

The Salaf differed concerning this matter, and there were three points of view. ‘Ali said: they have to make up the fast if they do not fast, but they do not have to pay the fidyah. Ibn ‘Abbas said: They have to pay the fidyah but do not have to make up the fasts. Ibn ‘Umar said: They have to pay the fidyah and make up the fasts.

Those who said that they only have to make up the fasts quoted the following as evidence:

  • The report narrated by al-Nasa’i from Anas that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Allaah has waived half of the prayer for the traveler, and fasting, and for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding.” Classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasa’i. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stated that the ruling on pregnant and breastfeeding women is like the ruling on the traveler. The traveler may not fast and has to make it up later and this also applies to pregnant and breastfeeding women. (See Ahkaam al-Qur’aan by al-Jassaas)
  • Analogy to the sick. Just as the sick are allowed not to fast and have to make it up later, the same applies to those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. (See al-Mughni; al-Majmoo’)

This view was favored by a number of scholars.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa said “Pregnant and breastfeeding women come under the same ruling as those who are sick. If it is too difficult for them to fast then it is prescribed for them not to fast, but they have to make up the fasts when they are able to do so, like those who are sick. Some of the scholars are of the view that it is sufficient for them to feed one poor person for every day they missed, but this is a weak view. The correct view is that they have to make up missed fasts, just like travelers and those who are sick, because Allah says in the Qur’an: ‘but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days’ (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:184)… [and] what was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), that pregnant and breastfeeding women have to feed the poor instead, is a weak view that goes against the shar’iah evidence… Pregnant and breastfeeding women are likened to those who are sick, and do not come under the ruling on old men who are unable to fast. Rather they come under the ruling on those who are sick, so they should make up the fasts when they become able to do so, even if that is delayed.

It also says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah: “A pregnant woman has to fast when she is pregnant, unless she fears for herself or her foetus if she fasts, in which case she is allowed not to fast, but she has to make up the missed fasts after she gives birth and becomes pure from nifaas… it is not sufficient for her to feed a poor person instead, rather she has to fast and does not have to feed a poor person if she does that.”

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’, after mentioning the difference of scholarly opinion about the ruling on this matter, and expressing his preference for the view that she only has to make up the missed fasts: This view is the most likely to be correct in my opinion, because at most they are like one who is sick or traveling, who only have to make up missed fasts. (Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid)

See Also Question # 70: Fasting of breast feeding women

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