These said qualifications exclude the following categories:
1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;
2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fast, and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them;
3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer, at least, one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person per day. This compensation indicates that whenever they can fast even for one day of the month, they should do so, and compensate for the rest. Otherwise they are accountable for their negligence;
4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and make up for it, a day for a day;
5. People in the course of travelling of distances about fifty miles or more. In this case such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Qur’an tells, to keep the fast if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;
6. Expectant women and women nursing their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time a day for a day;
in the period of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days) or of confinement
(of a maximum of forty days). These are not allowed to fast even if they
can and want to. They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make
up for it, a day for a day.
It should be understood that here, like in all other Islamic undertakings, the intention must be made clear that this action is undertaken in obedience to God, in response to His command and out of love for Him.
The fast of any day of Ramadan becomes void by intentional eating or drinking or smoking or indulgence in any intimate intercourses, and by allowing anything to enter through the month into the interior parts of the body. And if this is done deliberately without any lawful reason, the penalty is to observe the fast of sixty consecutive days or, as a second alternative, feed sixty poor persons sufficiently, besides observing the fast of one day against the day whose fast was made void.
When the fast of days other than those of Ramadan is broken for a lawful reason like those classified under the heading “Exemption” above, the person involved must make up for that fast later, a day for a day.
If anyone, by mistake, does something that would ordinarily break the fast, his observance is not nullified, and his fast stands valid, provided he stops doing that thing the moment he realizes what he is doing.
On completion of the fast of Ramadan, the special charity known as Sadqatu-l-Fitr (Charity of breaking the Fast) must be distributed before Eed-l-Fitr prayer (see the value of this charity in the previous topic ”The Performance of ‘Eed Prayers”).
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