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PREGNANT, BREASTFEEDING WOMEN AND MAKING UP FASTS OF RAMADHAN

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

PREGNANT, BREASTFEEDING WOMEN AND MAKING UP FASTS OF RAMADHAN

By MUFTI WASEEM KHAN

The overwhelming majority of Fuqaha (Jurists) and scholars of Islam from among the Tabi’een and those after them, have ruled that a pregnant woman who misses her fast (on account of pregnancy) is required to make up for her missed fast. In fact, the great 7th Century Hanbali Scholar Ibn Qudama writes in his famous work, Al Mughni, ‘the pregnant and nursing women, when they fear harm upon themselves (by fasting), can refrain from observing the fast (in Ramadhan), but must make Qadha of the fast (that is, they must make up for the missed fast afterwards). We do not know of any Iktilaaf (difference of opinion) amongst the Scholars in this matter.’ (Al Mughni by Ibn Qudama, Vol.3, Pg.139). The difference of opinion among the Scholars is only with respect to whether the woman is required to pay a fidya along with doing the Qadha or not.

In this regard, some have stated that along with making up for the missed fast, she is also required to give fidya in the month of Ramadhan for her missed fast. Others however, have stated that she is only required to make up for the fast and there is no fidya upon her. In this regard, it is narrated from Imam Shafi, Imam Ahmad, Sufyan and one opinion of Imam Malik that a pregnant woman and a nursing mother, both of them are allowed to miss the fast of Ramadhan when they fear harm for their child. However, they must make up for their missed fasts and would also feed the poor (that is give fidya). (Tirmizi – Chapter of the allowance of missing the fast for a pregnant woman and a nursing woman; Al Mughni vol.3, Pg.139).

The above opinion is also narrated from Abdullah bin Umar (R.A) (a Sahabi (companion) of the Prophet (S.A) (Al Mughni vol.3 pg.139, Maktaba Al Jumhooriya Al Arabiya, Cairo).

The above scholars have based their ruling on the understanding that in this matter both types of women (mentioned above) fall into the category of those who are temporarily ill and the law of the Quran regarding such people is that they must make up for the missed fast. As for the act of feeding the poor by giving fidya, they based their ruling upon the statement of Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) who said that they should give the fidya. It is important to note here, that the above great scholars from the Salafus Saaliheen, did not infer from the statement of Ibn Abbas that these women should simply give fidya alone, but instead, they ruled that she must also make up for the missed fast, since this was the law of the Quran for people who fall into the category of being temporarily unable to keep the fast. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi-Sharh of Tirmizi vol.3, pg.459 Qadeemi Kutub Khana, Karachi; Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg.310).

The other famous and accepted ruling which was the verdict of Ali (R.A), and was given by a great amount of Imams (scholars) from the Salafus Saaliheen is that the pregnant woman and nursing mother must only make up for the missed fast and is not required to give fidya. This is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Imam Awzai, Imam Sufyan Thawri, Abu Ubaid, Abu Thawr, Ata, Hasan Basri, Ibraheem An Nakhi, Imam Zuhri, Rabi’a, Dhahak, Saeed bin Jubair. (Al Mughni vol.3, pg.139; Bidyatul Mujtahid, Vol.1, Pg.301; Tuhfatul Ahwazee, Vol.3, Pg.459-460).

The above is also the established ruling of Imam Bukhari, who cited the following statement as his proof. He said, ‘Hasan Basri and Ibraheem An Nakhi have stated in regards to the nursing mother and the pregnant woman, ‘when both of them fear harm upon themselves or their children, they are allowed to miss the fast and then make up for it’. (Sahih Al Bukhari – Tuhfatul Ahwazee, Vol. 3, Pg.460, Qadeemi Kutub Khana).

These scholars from the Salafus Saaliheen (pious predecessors) have cited verse 184 of Sura Baqara as their evidence. This verse states, ‘But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days’. The scholars have explained that those who are ill are allowed to miss the Ramadhan fast, based on this verse, however, they must make up for it afterwards. There is no instruction to pay fidya in this verse. As such, a pregnant woman who is considered by all scholars to fall under the allowance given to the ill ones, would also do the same, and seeing that there is no requirement to pay fidya for this category of excused people, she will not be required to pay fidya. (Tuhfatul Ahwazee, Vol. 3, Pg.460, Qadeemi Kutub Khana).

In addition to this, there is a sound hadith which is narrated from the Prophet (S.A) regarding the pregnant woman and the nursing mother. Anas bin Malik (R.A) states that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Certainly Allah has put aside from the traveler, the fast and half of his Salaah. And has put aside from the pregnant woman or a nursing mother the fast’. (Recorded by Imam Tirmizi who said that it is a Hasan (good) hadith. Recorded also by Abu Dawood, Nasai and Ibn Majah).

This hadith establishes the fact that just as the traveler is exempted from observing the fasts of Ramadhan (in its month), so too, the pregnant woman and nursing mother are exempted. The hadith says that Allah has ‘put aside the fast from them’, and He did not absolve them totally from observing the fast. It is for this reason, we see that the traveler is required to make up for his missed fast when he returns from his journey. In this same manner, the pregnant woman and nursing mother would both make up for the missed fasts, since they have all been treated on the same level with the traveler in the hadith.

There is absolutely no mention of paying the fidya, hence, it would not be upon them. Further to this, these scholars have stated that there is no hadith in which the Prophet (S.A) has made fidya essential upon the pregnant woman (when she misses the fast). This is only the opinion of Ibn Abbas (R.A) and in one narration of Ibn Umar (R.A). They do not base their opinion on a hadith, instead it is a deduction they have drawn from the verse of the Holy Quran which speaks about fidya.

Based on this explanation, it is clearly seen that there is a unanimous ruling/verdict of almost all the scholars of the Salafus Saaliheen, including the four great Imams of Fiqh, that a pregnant woman must make up for her missed fasts. The difference of opinion held by these scholars is only with respect to the issue of whether there is an additional duty placed upon the pregnant woman or not. Note well, that it is not about being absolved entirely from making up for the missed fasts.

For a detailed explanation of this answer, one can refer to the following books:

Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg.310

Nailul Awtaar vol.4 pg.230

Al Hidaya vol.1 pg.222

Fathul Qadeer vol.2 pg.276

Al Mughni vol.3 pg.139

Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.3 pg.458

Al Fiqhul Islami Wa Adilatihi vol.3 pg.1700

 

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

 

The following has also been mentioned by the great Scholar Shaikh Muhammad Saalih Al Munajjid and found on his online ‘Islam Question and Answer’ (islamqa.info):

“Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 15/225. 

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 Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:184] 

He also said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 15/227: 

The correct view concerning this matter is that pregnant and breastfeeding women have to make up the fasts, and what was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn ‘Umar, that pregnant and breastfeeding women have to feed the poor instead, is a weak view that goes against the shar’i evidence. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:184] 

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 says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (10/220): 

If a pregnant woman fears for herself or her foetus because of fasting in Ramadaan, she may break the fast and she only has to make up the missed fasts. In this regard she is like one who is sick and is unable to fast or fears that fasting will harm him. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:184] 

Similarly if a breastfeeding woman fears for herself if she nurses her child during Ramadaan, or she fears for her child if she fasts and does not breastfeed him, then she may not fast, and she only has to make up the missed fasts. 

It also says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (10/226): 

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’, 6/220, 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. 

And Allaah knows best.”

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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