Fiqh of Ramadan in Detail

1.6. Elderly

Old people, men and women, in late years of life for whom fasting is harmful and difficult, can break the prescribed fast, but are required to give a substitute by feeding a needy person for each prescribed fast day omitted. The same is true of a sick person who does not hope to recover during the whole year. The schools concur upon this rule excepting the Hanbalis, who say that giving a substitute is recommended and not obligatory.

1.7. Excuse Not to Fast No Longer Present

If the reason permitting not fasting no longer exists such as the recovery of a sick person, maturing of a child, homecoming of a traveler, or termination of the menses, it is recommended in the view of the Shafi`is, to refrain (imsak) from things that break the fast (muftirat) as a token of respect. The Hanbalis and the Hanafis consider refraining as obligatory, but Malikis consider it neither obligatory nor recommended.

2. Conditions of Prescribed Fasting

As mentioned earlier, fasting in the month of Ramadan is obligatory for each and every sane adult. Hence, fasting is neither obligatory upon an insane person in the state of insanity nor is it valid if he or she observes it. As to a child, it is not obligatory upon him or her, although valid if observed by a person at the age of discretion (mumayyiz). Also essential for the validity of the fast are Islam and intention. Therefore, as per consensus, neither the fast of a non-Muslim nor the fast of one who has not formed the intention is acceptable. This is apart from the aforementioned conditions of freedom from menses, bleeding following childbirth, illness and travel. As to a person in an intoxicated or unconscious state, the Shafi`is observe that his or her prescribed fast is not valid if he or she is not in his or her senses for the whole period of the prescribed fast. But if that person is in his or her senses for a part of this period, the prescribed fast is valid, although the unconscious person is liable for the missed fasts, whatever the circumstances, irrespective of whether his or her unconsciousness is self-induced or forced upon him or her. But the missed fasts is not obligatory upon an intoxicated person unless he or she is personally responsible for his or her state. The Malikis state that the fast is not valid if the state of unconsciousness or intoxication persists for the whole or most of the day from dawn to sunset. But if it covers a half of the day or less and he or she was in possession of his or her senses at the time of making the intention and did make it, becoming unconscious or intoxicated later, making up for the prescribed fasts is not obligatory upon him or her. The time of making the intention known for the fast in their opinion extends from sunset to dawn. According to the Hanafis, an unconscious person is exactly like an insane one in this respect, and their opinion regarding the latter is that if the insanity lasts through the whole month of Ramadan, it is not obligatory to make up for the missed fasts. If it covers half of the month, he or she will fast for the remaining half and make up for the prescribed fasts missed due to insanity. The Hanbalis observe that it is obligatory for a person in a state of intoxication, irrespective of whether these states are self-induced or forced upon the person, to make up for missed prescribed fasts.

Things Obligatory to Refrain From During the Prescribed Fast

Those things from which it is obligatory to refrain during the fast (muftirat), from dawn to sunset, are:

1. Eating and drinking deliberately

Both eating and drinking (shurb) deliberately invalidate the prescribed fast and necessitate making up for the fasts missed in the opinion of all the schools, although they differ as to whether atonement is also obligatory. The Hanafis require it, but not the Shafi`is and the Hanbalis. A person who eats and drinks by an oversight is neither liable to make up for missed fasts nor atonement, except in the opinion of the Malikis, who only require its being made up. Included in drinking is inhaling tobacco smoke.

2. Sexual intercourse

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