Exemption From Fasting

Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. There are certain rules about people who are exempted, the Holy Qur'an says "Ya ayyu aalladheena amanu, kutiba alaykum al-siyamu kama kutiba aala alladheena min qablikum la'aallakum tattaqoon (2:183)" "O you who believe fasting has been prescribed for you like it was prescribed for the people before you, so that you become pious".

In the Holy Qur'an, it talks about certain people who are exempted. "Mareed", someone who is ill. Some people become ill only during the month of Ramadan who are unwell, some people are ill altogether, people who have diabetes; because of long fast, they cannot sometimes fast, so they can make up in winter.

Some people are diabetic, but they can still fast, they have certain measures, for example, you can take insulin and you can still fast; so people who are ill, some people who have kidney problem because of that they cannot fast, so different illnesses people have, heart patients; so there are so many different illnesses that stop you, exempt you.

Secondly, people who are traveling: "in kuntum 'ala safarin fa 'iddatum min ayyamin ukhara" (2:184) , "if you are traveling, then you make up in some of the day". So if you travel and you travel to a place and stay there for 10 days or more, then you have to fast; but if you're traveling and you stay in a place for less than 10 days and you cannot fast, then you must make up.

It is discouraged in the month of Ramadan to travel, unless it is for Umrah or for going to the House of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, or for Ziyaraat, then it is fine, it is not Makrooh, you can travel for those, and sometimes you can just travel to open the fast because you cannot fast because of weakness; or for children who are very young, they cannot fast, so they can just travel and then open their fast.

One of the other people who are exempted are elderly; so the elderly people are exempted from fasting. People who cannot fast, they have to pay a Fidya, a small penalty for every fast they have missed, they have to feed one poor person who cannot afford food; or even if they are a poor person who fasts, who is a believer, they must give them one meal for every fast they have missed.

Also, women who are expecting a child so they are exempted from fasting. Women who are breastfeeding their children are exempted because if they are not eating enough then they do not produce enough milk to feed their children, then they're exempted; but if they can still fast, then they have to; likewise, in pregnancy, some women can anyway; it is your personal decision. If you feel that you cannot, then you have to make them up.

Anyone who has an excuse, genuine excuse not to fast, they have to make up before the next month of Ramadan; but if for the whole 11 months they could not make up because the illness did not go away or the excuse did not go away, then they have to give a penalty, like feed one person for every fast they missed and then they don't have to make those fasts.

So amongst the people who are exempted, the elderly, according to Ayatollah Sistani, do not have to pay a penalty; because of old age, if the people cannot fast anymore, they don't have to give a Fidya, but all other people have to give a Fidya. Fidya is basically giving either 750 grams of wheat or barley; and some scholars say that, no, one meal for every fast that you missed to a poor person.

So exempted people should at least try and not eat, you know, if you are traveling or for whatever reason, they're not fasting, but still with full respect for the other people, try and not eat in front of other people, or try and eat as less as possible, or if you don't need to eat, then please avoid it; but if you are exempted, you can eat, obviously, but avoid eating in front of people who are fasting.

There are many of the recommendations for the people who are not fasting: at least try and read the Holy Qur'an, try and listen to the Duas. Even if you're not fasting, then try and do all other things which are recommended for the people who do fast. Nevertheless, it is important that, if you are exempted, you still repent and say "O Allah give me the strength so that I can fast again."