The duty of fasting is one of the pillars upon which the religion of Islam has been founded, and for this Allah has chosen the best of the months – the month of Ramadhan – in which He revealed His holy Book, and He blessed it with the Night of Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.
Ruling 314: The New Moon is established for the month of Ramadhan – like all other months – through the following ways:
(1) Sure knowledge which is obtained through:
(a) One actually sighting it himself;
(b) Reports of numerous sightings of the moon in such a number that makes one sure that they are true; or
(c) The passing of 30 days since the beginning of the previous month
(2) The testimony of two adil men that they have seen the New Moon, as long as there is no evidence that they have made an error.
(3) Seeing the New Moon before noon, if that is possible. If seen, the previous night will be regarded as the first night of the month, and the day in which it is sighted will be the first day of the month.
Ruling 315: If the New Moon is established by any of the above-mentioned ways in any parts of the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, then the first of the month is established for all parts of these continents. If the New Moon is established in any part of the Americas, it is established for all other parts of the Americas too, but not for the aforementioned four continents.
Things Which Invalidate the Fast
Ruling 316: The fasting person invalidates his fast by deliberately doing any of the following eight things:
(1), (2) Eating and drinking. As an obligatory precaution, the fast is also invalidated by anything reaching the stomach, even if by other than the throat.
(4) Using liquid enema. Similarly, using solid suppositories which liquefy after entering the body also invalidates the fast as an obligatory precaution.
(5) Entering the state of janabah, whether by discharging semen or sexual intercourse from the vaginal passage, and as an obligatory precaution from the anal passage as well.
(6) Remaining in the state of janabah until dawn. This will only invalidate obligatory fasts. The same applies to staying without ghusl after haydh or nifas, if there is enough time to perform ghusl before dawn. As an obligatory precaution, the obligatory fast is also invalid for one who does not perform the ghusl of janabah, haydh or nifas out of forgetfulness.
(7) Lying about Allah, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them).
(8) Smoking, as an obligatory precaution.
Conditions of the Fast
Ruling 317: The following conditions must be fulfilled for the fast to be valid:
(1) Islam; rather, true belief. Therefore, the fasting of a non-believer and one who denies the wilayah (guardianship) of the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) is invalid.
(2) The intention that the fast is undertaken for the sake of gaining proximity to Allah Almighty.
(3) Not being in the state of haydh or nifas for the duration of the whole day, i.e. between dawn break and sunset.
(4) Not traveling a journey which requires shortening the prayers. If the traveler fasts out of ignorance of this rule, then it is valid.
(5) Not being ill, such that the fast will cause him harm; in fact, fasting of a person who is not ill is not valid if it will cause him to become ill.
Ruling 318: It is not valid to undertake a recommended fast if one has lapsed fasts of the month of Ramadhan which he has yet to make up for.
Ruling 319: For one to be obligated to undertake the fasts of the month of Ramadhan, and its lapsed qadha fasts, and vowed fasts, the following conditions must be fulfilled: one must be adult (as defined by the Sharia), sane, not ill, free from haydh and nifas, and one should not be travelling whereby he is required to shorten his prayers.
Concessions from Fasting
Ruling 320: Fasting is not obligated on certain people and it is permissible for them to abstain from fasting:
(1) An elderly people, if fasting causes hardship or he is not able to fast. For each missed fast he has to give a fidya payment of one mudd of food such as wheat, dates, rice, lentils and the like, but not fruits, vegetables and meats. One mudd equates to approximately 870 grams, or 900 grams as a precaution. He is not required to make up the fast as qadha.
(2) One who gets extremely thirsty due to an illness and the ruling of the elderly applies to him.
(3) Pregnant woman who is close to delivery, and fasting is a strain for her; she is required to make the fidya payment as explained above, as well as making up for the lapsed fast later.
(4) Breastfeeding woman, if the fasting will adversely affect her milk by reducing it or not being produced at all. She is required to make the fidya payment as explained above, as well as making up for the lapsed fast later.
Ruling 321: If a pregnant woman’s fasting will be harmful to her or her child, it is impermissible for her to fast, and she should make up for the lapsed fast later without any fidya, as is the case with an ill person. The same applies to breastfeeding women if the lack of milk will cause a forbidden harm.
The Expiation (Kaffarah)
Ruling 322: The expiation will be obligatory if one breaks the fast of the month of Ramadhan deliberately by eating, drinking, having sexual intercourse, the discharging of semen, and remaining in the state of janabah. As an obligatory precaution, the expiation will also be required for failing to perform the haydh or nifas, and for smoking. The expiation is not necessary for any of the other things which invalidate the fast.
Ruling 323: The expiation is either the fasting of two consecutive months, or the feeding of sixty poor people, or the freeing of a slave. Some further details are mentioned in the chapter on Expiation.
Ruling 324: The expiation is obligatory if one intentionally has sexual intercourse after the zawal time during the qadha fast of the month of Ramadhan. As an obligatory precaution, the same applies to all the other things which necessitate the expiation in the fast of Ramadhan as explained above.
Ruling 325: The expiation is obligatory if one breaks the fast of a vow, oath or promise if the time for fulfilling them is constrained, regardless of which of the aforementioned eight invalidators of the fast he broke the fast with.
The Qadha Fasts
Ruling 326: Qadha fasts are not necessary for those fasts lapsed during childhood, insanity, unconsciousness, or original disbelief, i.e. as opposed to disbelief resulting from apostasy.
Ruling 327: Qadha fasts are obligatory for those fasts lapsed due to haydh, nifas, sleep, intoxication, illness, traveling, etc. As an obligatory precaution, the same applies to the fasts lapsed due to apostasy.
Ruling 328: Whoever misses the fasting of the whole month of Ramadhan due to a valid excuse, and this excuse continues until the next month of Ramadhan, then:
(1) if the matter was beyond his control, such as illness, he is not required to undertake the qadha fast, but must make the fidya payment:
(2) if the matter was within his control and he had a choice, such as unnecessary traveling, he is obligated to make the fidya payment for each lapsed fast, and as an obligatory precaution he is required to make up for the lapsed fast as qadha in the coming years.
Ruling 329: It is obligatory, if possible, to hasten to undertake the qadha fasts of the previous month of Ramadhan before the start of the next month of Ramadhan. If he neglects to do so, he is required to make the fidya payment as well as the qadha fast.
Ruling 330: The fidya payment of every fast is a mudd of food (as explained in ruling 320). This should be given to a poor person, and it does not suffice to give its price in money instead.
Ruling 331: It is recommended to fast on every day, except on those days on which it has been forbidden to fast, such as the two days of Eid, and the 11th, 12th and 13th days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah for those who are in Mina during the pilgrimage – even if one is there for a part of the day as an obligatory precaution – and the day in which one doubts whether it is that of the month of Ramadhan or not, etc.
Ruling 332: It is disliked for a son or a guest to undertake a recommended fast without the permission of the father or the host. The same is the case for the wife who fasts without the permission of her husband, provided that it does not oppose his rights. Otherwise, it will be prohibited.