Fasting for the sake of Allah (SWT) is indeed a pious and beloved act in the eyes of the Creator. Allah (SWT), the Benevolent, never burdens a soul more than it can bear and He eases every task for His believers. Even though fasting in Ramadan is mandatory upon every functional and able Muslim, Allah (SWT) has pardoned and excused certain people from the act of fasting if they are unable to fast due to certain legitimate reasons.

Ramadan, being one of the holiest of months in the Islamic Calendar, is one of the most revered and anticipated month in the lives of Muslims across the globe. It is a month of immense blessings and rewards like no other. It is a month of heightened spirituality and serves as an opportunity to get close to our Creator. Hence, it is the aim of each and every believer to make the most of Ramadan through fasting, exercising patience and control. However, there are people who cannot, physically or otherwise, keep a fast and Allah (SWT) has excused them for it and provided alternate ways for them to compensate for it.

People exempted from fasting are as follows:

• Physical illness

Individuals who are suffering from any form of physical sickness (temporary or permanent) and they feel that fasting would worsen their health, are exempt from fasting. Moreover, if an ill individual feels that fasting may hamper the recovery process or cause greater damage to the body is also exempt from fasting. However, common fatigue or difficulty during a fast does not fall under the category of acute sickness and does not excuse that individual from breaking his/her fast.

• Mental illness

Individuals who are mentally challenged or they are victims of any sort of mental illness which affects their cognition as a whole, are not required to fast in Ramadan, or on any other occasion. They are automatically exempt.

• Travelers

People who are travelling are excused from fasting in the eyes of Allah (SWT) if they meet the following conditions:

1. Their duration and distance of the journey should be such that it falls under the category where prayers are shortened.

2. The intention of travel should not be to settle at the destination.

3. The purpose of travel should not be sinful – in any way.

• Women during menstruation

Women who are going through their monthly period cycles are exempt from fasting. They may continue fasting once their cycle has ended completely and they perform the proper ghusl.

• Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Women who are expecting or they are in the phase of breastfeeding, they are allowed to break their fast if they think that their child’s health is at risk.

• Old age

Individuals facing senility and old age are essentially exempt from fasting. With old age comes weakness, terminal illnesses, loss of mental faculties and extreme fragility, hence, it is believed that people in their old-age are not required to fast at the cost of their health.

• Children who have not reached puberty

Fasting is not obligatory on children that have not yet undergone puberty. Once they do, then it becomes mandatory.

Even if life’s circumstances do not allow one to fast, Allah (SWT) is kind enough to provide alternate ways of compensation where one can make up for the missed fasts and reap equal benefits and blessings in the blessed month of Ramadan.

The author

Amna Anwaar