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What Should I Do after Failing to Fast Ramadan Out of Ignorance?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi

Question

I hit puberty and miss the whole of 2017 fasts and 1 from 2018 out of ignorance that I needed to start fasting.

All these years past I didn’t know I had to make them up till now. Do I still have to pay compensation for all the Ramadans that went past and I didn’t make up these fasts because I wasn’t aware that I needed to? Can I be excused cause no one ever mentioned it to me? Till I found out recently.

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

I pray this finds you in the best of states.

Missed Fasts

You will have to make up those fasts as soon as possible.  No monetary compensation is possible in your situation. Only elderly people who would be harmed by fasting the month of Ramadan are allowed to pay compensation (fidya) instead of fasting. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]

If you have not been able to finish making up all your missed fasts before next Ramadan you will have to perform the current fasts of Ramadan and delay your make-up fasts after Ramadan. [Ibid]

Please remember that you don’t have to make up all your fasts consecutively. [Ibid]  Don’t make things too hard on yourself!

The reason for allowing elderly people who would be harmed by fasting to pay a fidya instead is because of the difficulty entailed by fasting for them. [Tahtawi, Hashya ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah]

Allah, Most High, says: “Allah does not like to impose a difficulty on you.” [Quran, 5:6]

This is not your case as you are young enough to be able to fast without too much difficulty.

Expiation

No expiation (fasting two months consecutively in addition to making up your fasts) is needed in your case. As mentioned in a previous answer at SeekersGuidance:

“Expiation (Kaffara) only becomes necessary upon an individual if a fast was broken deliberately after actually starting it by eating, drinking, or having sexual intercourse. As such, if a fast of Ramadhan was not kept altogether, then although one will be sinful for not fasting, a Kaffara will not be necessary, rather one will be obliged to make up for the missed fast (qada).”

Please see:
Is Expiation (kaffara) Necessary For Not Fasting in Ramadan?

Ignorance as an Excuse

As mentioned many times by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani ( may Allah protect him):

Ignorance is not acceptable as an excuse for not knowing the rulings of the Shari’a when knowledge is available, and one has the possibility of learning. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

This point is completely realized in the contemporary world of the internet where knowledge is accessible to all.

And Allah knows best.
Wassalam

[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found.

Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others.

He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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