The Fast of Pregnant and Nursing Women

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

A group of sisters want to know the rulings related to the fasting of pregnant and nursing women, and what’s required of them in terms of expiation, etc.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The discussion of a pregnant (or, similarly, nursing) woman’s fast is divided into:

1. the legal ruling regarding her fasting or breaking her fast,

2. what is required of her in terms of making up missed fasts,

3. what is required of her in terms of monetary penalty (Ar. fidya) if she breaks her fast, and

4. the amount of the monetary penalty.

The Legal Ruling of Fasting or Breaking the Fast

It is obligatory for a pregnant or nursing woman to fast Ramadan as long as she does not fear harming herself, such as if she fears:

1. falling ill, or

2. worsening an existing illness, or

3. delayed recovery from an existing illness.

[m: In the above cases,] it is permissible for her to break her fast. Similarly, it is permissible for her to break her fast if she fears for her child, meaning that, for example, [h: she fears that] she will miscarry or that her milk will decrease, thereby causing her child to fall ill or increase in illness.

Making Up Missed Fasts

If a pregnant or nursing woman breaks her fast, it is obligatory for her to make up each missed day, irrespective of whether she broke her fast out of fear for herself or her child.

When the Monetary Penalty is Required

The monetary penalty is only due if she breaks her fast purely out of fear for her child. If, however, she breaks her fast:

1. purely out of fear for herself, or

2. out of fear for herself and her child,

then no penalty is due.

The Amount of the Monetary Penalty

The amount of the penalty is a mudd of the main staple of the area (such as wheat or rice) for every day missed. A mudd equals 0.51 liters. In our school, it is not permissible to give the monetary value of the food; rather, one must give the food itself. The Hanafi scholars permit giving the monetary value. It is permissible for one to adopt and act upon this opinion if one chooses.

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