Q. What is the minimum distance of travel after which we are exempted from fasting?

A. This is the same answer as that for the Salaah. What is the distance considered for a traveller so that he can do Qasar i.e. shorten his salaah is the same for fasting. Though there is difference of opinion but majority of scholars they say it is 16 FARSAKH. Each FARSAKH is 3 MILES, so it is more than 48 MILES if a person travels i.e. if a person travels more than 80 KM he is considered as a traveller.  But some scholars say it is 83 KM, some say 84 KM. so it can said that more than 84 KM a person is considered as a traveller. But the basic thing is he should not be in his own hometown. There are some cities which are very large. And the distance from one end to the other can be more than 84 KM then he is not considered as a traveller. He should be in a foreign city.

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Q. I am an engineering student and my final year examination lies in the month of Ramadan. My parents advised me not to fast during Ramadan as it may affect my examination results. Am I exempted from fasting on this basis?

A. (by #DrZakirNaik): A person who does not want to fast only because of the examination it is not a valid reason. Even though it may be a final exam and maybe the parents may coax that “Don’t fast because if you fast your concentration may go down and you will not achieve good results”. Even if parents force at this point of time the child (son or daughter) should not listen to the parents. Because if you parents tell you something which is against the teachings of Allah and his Rasool that’s the only time where they can disobey their parents. Because that is not a legitimate reason that because the examination is there they do not want to fast so that they would get good marks. Getting marks in the Aakhira, doing our farayidh are more important. And Allah says in the Quran in Surah Al-Imran Ch. 3 V. 160, “If Allah helps you none can overcome you, if Allah forsakes you then who is there then who can help you. So let the believers put their trust in Allah”. So my advice is even if there is an examination let them fast, insha’allah the concentration will be better and they will get better marks insha’allah.

Q. I work in Saudi Arabia and my home town is in India. Last Ramadan I started my fasts in Saudi Arabia and then travelled to India which had a difference of 2 days. Do I have to fast for 30 days and leave the extra fasts or do I have to fast the extra fasts too?

A. (by #DrZakirNaik): According to hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which says, “start your fast with the people who are starting the fast and break the fast when the people around you break the fast”. So if he lives in Saudi Arabia he should start his fast with the people of Saudi Arabia and if in between in Ramadan he goes back to his original home in India then he should fast till the time his people are fasting.  And I am aware many times there is a difference of couple of days. So if he starts his fast two days earlier and he goes to India. By the time he finishes his 30 fasts the people of India may still have 1 or 2 fasts left. But yet he has to continue fasting with the people of India even if it exceeds more than 30 days.

Now If it is vice versa i.e. if he starts fasting in India (i.e. 2 days late) then comes to Saudi Arabia then maybe he will fast only 28 days. In this case he has to start with people of India and end with the people of Saudi Arabia and he cannot fast on the EID day because that is haraam. But after that he has to fast at least 1 day to complete his 29 days because a lunar month is at least 29 days.  So he should fast 1 or 2 days after EID so that  he does not fast less than the minimum requirement.

Q. I am a pilot and I am always in a perpetual state of travel. Am I exempted from all my fasts?

A. (#DrZakirNaik): if a person’s profession is such that he is pilot or if he is sailor and he has to travel and if he leaves his hometown and he goes away so but natural he is considered as a traveller. He is exempted from fasting but he has to make up his fasts before next Ramadan. So if he travels a lot, he has to fast in the holidays, all the holidays he gets and when he is stationed in his hometown to make up the missed fast.

 

Q. I am a student and I have travelled abroad for 2 months. Am I exempted from my fast in Ramadan?

A. (Dr Zakir): Most of the scholars what they say that what is ruling for salaah, i.e. when a person travels according to the hadith in which our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, “Allah subhanwatala has exempted from fasting and half of his prayers when he is travelling…”. So the ruling which is there for salaah is the same as for the person who is fasting. And most of fuqahas, most of the scholars though there is a difference of opinion say that maximum a person can stay in a city after he has left from his own hometown is 4 days. So most of the scholars agree that same thing is for fasting that maximum they can stay in a city and can be considered as travelers is for 4 days. If they extend then they will not be considered as travelers. Though there is difference of opinion in different school of thoughts but the majority consider this.

Coming to main part of the question that if a person goes and stays in a foreign land for 2 months or 3 months or several months together will it be considered as a traveler? No, in this condition he is staying for a long time, as far as fasting is considered he will have to fast all the obligatory fasts of the month of Ramadan.

Q. What are your thoughts on children fasting in Ramadan before they reach the age of puberty?

A. (by #DrZakirNaik): As I mentioned earlier it is not compulsory for a person who has not reached the age of puberty to fast. He/she is exempted as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “The pen has been lifted up from three categories of people –  a child until he reaches puberty, a sleeping person until he wakes up and a person who is insane until he becomes of sound mind”. But It is good to encourage our children to fast as early as possible though it is not compulsory and there is a hadith which is mentioned in  Sahih Al-Bukhari which says, “Prophet sends a message to Ansar… those who are fasting they should continue fasting, those who are not fasting should fast till the end of the day”. After that the sahaaba they fasted and even asked their children to fast and took them to the Masajids and if they cried they gave them toys of wool so to keep them busy till the time of iftaar. That means how sahaabas encouraged their children to fast at an early age though it was not compulsory. And this is a good habit but nowadays we see parents discourage their children to fast even if the child is enthusiastic  and says that I want to fast many parents say “At this young age?, it is not required, don’t fast!”. They fail to realize fasting at a young age will not cause them any harm in fact it will give them a training to fast when they will reach puberty. And Allah says in Quran in Surah Al-Tahreem Ch.  66 V. 6, “O you who believe save yourselves and your families from the torment of hell fire whose fuel is men and stones”. Allah is reminding the people don’t only save yourselves but even your children from the hell fire whose fuel is men and stones. So it is good to encourage our children to fast at an early age. And that’s what we do in our school that we are running the International Islamic School, we encourage them to fast at an early age even when they are in Jr. KG.  or senior KG.  at the age of 4,5 & 6 we encourage them. And at this age we say a person who fast the maximum in the class will get a gift, will get a reward and that encourages them,  and when they reach standard 1st i.e. when they are of approx age 6 Alhamdulillah most of the children fast the full month. And by the time they reach the standard 3rd i.e. approx. 7-8 yrs almost all of them fast the month of Ramadan though it is not compulsory so Alhamdulillah when they see other children fasting, imagine when most of parents tell the children ,”oh it is not required” but the children they force because they have a competition because of seeing their friends all of them fasting so if they don’t fast they feel ashamed, though it is not fardh on them but what atmosphere you create, we don’t tell them it is fardh to fast but the atmosphere of competition, the atmosphere of loving each other and loving the religion, loving Allah and his Rasool.  So in this way like it is said in a hadith ,”when a child reached the age of 7 we should teach him offer salaah and at the age of 10 you can even use force”. So scholars say you can do the same thing even for fasting.  We use gifts, love and rewards and alhumdullilah it has a tremendous effect on the children.

Q. Can you please mention the criteria of people who are exempted from fasting in the month of Ramadan?

A. (by #drzakirnaik): There are in total 13 categories of people who are exempted from fasting

  1. If person is an unbeliever i.e. if he is a non-Muslim. *
  2. If he/she is a minor. *
  3. If he/she is insane.*
  4. If it’s a lady and she is menstruating. **
  5. If she has post-natal bleeding. **
  6. If she is pregnant. **
  7. If she is breastfeeding. **
  8. If a person is ill or sick. **
  9. If a person is disabled. ***
  10. If person is very elderly i.e. very old. ***
  11. If the person is travelling. **
  12. If the person is taking part in Jihad or fight in the cause of Allah. **
  13. Under compulsion. If someone forces the person to break the fast, he/she is exempted. **

*:  they do not have to make their fast late on.

**:  the moment the condition in which they are gets reversed then they have to make up for the fast they have missed before the next Ramadan.

***: do not have to make up for the fast but they have to pay the ransom – the feeding of a poor person for every fast that they miss.