Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I recently had a caesarean section (9 weeks ago) followed by further surgery due to a severe infection. Due to this and the fact that I am breastfeeding, I am not fasting (Ramadhan). Is there a kafaara in this instance? and is it correct that the fasts have to be made up when possible?
I pray that your health has been getting better, and that you are having a good month of Ramadan.
Sayyiduna Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Verily, Allah has lifted half of the prayers and fasting from the traveler, and those pregnant and nursing.” [Tirmidhi 649, Abu Dawud 2056, Nasa’i 2237, Ibn Maja 1657, Ahmad 18270, with different wordings and narrations]
The commentators and fuqaha have agreed that this is conditioned by inability or fear of harm. This is confirmed by other hadiths, such as the narration in Abu Dawud from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) where he conditioned it by, “if they fear.” Abu Dawud (Allah have mercy on him) explained this as meaning, “That is, if they fear for themselves or their child.” Imam Bukhari said likewise in the relevant chapter-heading in his Sahih, which is where he put his fiqh.
1. As long as you are reasonably sure that you are genuinely unable to fast, you do not have to. Once your health improves enough, you should try, though. Then, if you feel unable to continue your fast during the day, you can break it.
2. There is no kaffara for you in the Hanafi school.
3. Yes, you have to make up these fasts when reasonably possible.
It is mentioned in the Fatawa al-Hindiyya, one of the most important works in Islamic law, based on the Hanafi school:
“(Among the excuses not to fast are pregnancy and breastfeeding) The pregnant woman, and a woman nursing are permitted not to fast and must make up such fasts after, if they fear for themselves or the child. There is no expiatory payment (kaffara) for them in either case, as mentioned in al-Khulasa. (1.207)”
The default is that Muslim women who are pregnant or nursing must fast, and, in the long-term, take the health and nutritional means to be able to fast.
This obligation remains unless the woman genuinely fears harm, with reasonable surety, or sickness for herself or for the child.
“Genuine fear” is that which is based on: relevant previous experience (one’s own, or others’), clear unmistakable signs, or being informed by a qualified Muslim doctor who is not outwardly corrupt.
Makeups (qada) are obligatory, but not immediately, though it is superior to make up missed fasts as soon as reasonably possible.
Note that the only medical opinion that is considered, in of itself, is that of a Muslim doctor, unless the opinion of a non-Muslim merely confirms one’s own past experience or clear manifest signs.