Posted on Apr 12, 2019
With Ramadan just a few weeks away, how many of us have caught up on the fasts we needed to make up before this year’s fasting month begins? Are you in a bit of a state of panic, like some of us here at Haute Hijab? Don’t worry - there is still time to make up however many days you missed last year before we get to the halfway-point in the month of Sha’baan (when it’s recommended that we don’t fast until Ramadan begins).
Consider this your friendly reminder to finish your make up fasts while there is still time to do so! And, in the spirit of understanding when we can miss fasts, debunking some questions about missed fasts and learning how to manage and keep track of make-up fasts - we’ve done some research, reading and asking to get you some solid answers! As always, if we’ve made mistakes in any of our research, we ask for Allah’s (S) forgiveness and would love for you to let us know in the comments below.
1. When am I allowed to miss a fast?
There are five major categories for when you can miss a fast or even abstain from the entire month of fasting (aside from menstruation or postnatal bleeding): illness/health (mental or physical or disability and pregnancy or nursing), travel, old age, extreme health or thirst and coercion.
2. Are your fard (required) Ramadan fasts invalid if you haven’t completed make-up fasts from the year(s) before.
No. Simply not true. Your Ramadan fasts are not invalidated if you have not made up missed ones from Ramadans past. Now, that being said, it is strongly recommended to make up your missed fasts before the next Ramadan begins. According to Islam Question & Answer, managed by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, there is no sin if you are not caught up due to a reasonable delay, like a prolonged sickness or being sick until the next Ramadan starts. However, if one has no such excuse and fails to make up their missed fasts, it is considered a sin, and they must make up their fasts at some point. Imams Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmed also said that in this scenario, the person also needs to feed a person for each missed day.
3. Speaking of feeding a person - can you choose to do that instead of making up your fast?
In some circumstances, Muslims cannot fulfill their religious obligation to fast in Ramadan. Doing make up fasts are preferred, but another option is offering fidya or kaffara to compensate. Fidya is a donation paid by Muslims who cannot fulfill the obligation of fasting due to illness or old age. Fidya payments are meant to feed a miskeen (person in need) for each of the fasting days missed and are equivalent to the price of one meal each for two people or two meals for one person. The estimated cost, on guidance from the Fiqh Council of North America, is $10 for each day missed or $300 for all of Ramadan.
Kaffara is also a donation option for Muslims who deliberately miss or break a day of fast during the month of Ramadan without a valid reason or cannot (for whatever reasons) offer make-up fasts According to Islamic guidelines, if a person misses a day of fasting unnecessarily, he or she should either fast for 60 consecutive days or feed 60 masakeen (underprivileged people) per day. The estimated cost is $10 per person for 60 people, which equals $600 a day for each missed or broken-fast day. (Source: Islamic Relief USA)
4. When is the best time to make up my missed Ramadan fasts?
Fasting in the month of Shawwal (not on Eid ul Fitr or in Dhul Hijjah on Eid ul Adha, though) immediately after Ramadan is an ideal time to make up fasts. It’s ideal because “the body is still in a fasting mindset and can easily cope with a few additional days of fasting.” Also, you are free to choose the day you want to fast - weekend, weekday. It does not have to be for the amount of time each day you fasted in Ramadan, so another tip is to wait for the shorter fasting days of winter to do your make ups. It is recommended to complete your make-up fasts before the 15th of Sha’baan (the month before Ramadan) so that you have a two-week gap between doing make-up fasts and the fard fasts of Ramadan.
5. How do I even keep track of all the fasts I’ve missed?
Maybe you’ve been great about keeping track from one Ramadan to the next. Maybe you’ve kept a good written record of missed (and made-up) fasts in recent years. Inevitably though, we’ve probably forgotten how many fasts we’ve missed since we’ve started fasting. It especially gets hard for women, with pregnancy, birth, nursing, menstruation and such. It’s better to try and figure out an estimated number of fasts you’ve missed then throw in the towel all together. The Productive Muslim Company has a simple chart method to help you keep track. Check it out here!