Question: If I skip some fast-days in order to understand my lessons better and if I make them up after Eid, is there a religious obstacle to doing so?
Fasting is not an impediment to lessons. Rather, it gives you a boost in your lessons. Mental powers cannot be all that acute when a stomach is filled to the brim. Hunger sharpens intelligence and promotes understanding. This is only the medical side of the matter. Allahu ta’ala’s compassion and favors are different. Mind cannot understand them.
To refrain from fasting on a plea of lessons is haram. It is a great blessing to observe a fast in Ramadan. One should not miss out on this blessing and should know it as a great chance to observe the fast. The purport of a hadith-i sharif is as follows:
(If a person does not fast for a single day in Ramadan, he cannot earn the reward of this single day, even if he fasts all the year round instead of it.) [Tirmidhi]
If one fasts all one’s life at other times, one still cannot earn the reward of a single fast of Ramadan. The purport of another hadith-i sharif is as follows:
(Whoever fasts for a day in the way of Allah, Allahu ta’ala keeps him 70 years away from Hellfire owing to this fast of a day.) [Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah]
Question: If the fast of person breaks in Ramadan for any reason whatsoever, can he/she eat or drink after that?
If a fast breaks in Ramadan for any reason, such as having an injection or vomiting a mouthful voluntarily, or if a traveler comes to his/her place of residence or if the menstruation of a woman stops, such people must refrain from eating and drinking, like a fasting person, until sunset. It is makruh for them to eat or drink.
Food remnants and a grain of rice
Question: It is stated that it does not break the fast to swallow bits of food that were left between teeth and smaller than a chickpea. Then why does swallowing a grain of rice or wheat that is smaller than a chickpea break the fast?
Food remnants that were left between teeth are not considered something that have been taken from the outside and put in the mouth. A grain of rice, on the other hand, is something that is taken from the outside. If a grain of cooked rice is eaten during a fast, it also necessitates kaffarah (expiation that is done by freeing a slave or by fasting 60 consecutive days or by feeding 60 poor people) even though it is smaller than a chickpea. If a grain of uncooked rice is eaten, it necessitates qada (making up for that fast; observing another fast in lieu of a missed or broken fast). But according to the rule of our religion, if a grain of cooked rice that was left between teeth is swallowed, it does not break the fast. If it is swallowed during the performance of a namaz, it does not nullify the namaz, either. But if a grain of rice is taken from the outside and is swallowed, it nullifies the namaz. This means to say that swallowing bits of food that were left between teeth is different from taking something from the outside and swallowing it.
It is a disease to examine Islamic rules with our limited intelligence, to compare them with one another, and to try to understand the divine reasons in them. We must strictly avoid such things. If the religion were based on mind and reason, prophets would not have been sent and religious rules would not have been revealed.
Eating uncooked rice
Question: Why does eating a grain of uncooked rice or lentil while one is fasting necessitate making up (qada) for the fast while eating a grain of cooked rice or lentil necessitates kaffarah (expiation)?
Similarly, while eating little salt necessitates expiation, eating a spoonful of salt does not necessitate expiation. While eating soil does not necessitate expiation, eating the clay called Armenian bole necessitates expiation. Swallowing a hazelnut with its shell does not necessitate expiation, but swallowing it after it is cracked open necessitates expiation.
Like a grain of uncooked rice, the above-mentioned foods do not necessitate expiation because it is not customary to eat them for either medicinal or nutritious purposes. This means to say that what determines it is whether it is customary to eat something for either medicinal or nutritious purposes. Armenian bole, too, is soil. But since it is eaten for medicinal purposes, it entails expiation. Pregnant women who crave for unusual foods or some children eat soil like clay and lime. Such people should be careful about this ruling.
Question: If water slips down the throat of a person unintentionally while he/she is performing an ablution and thus breaks his/her fast, does it entail expiation if the relevant person eats or drinks afterward?
It only requires the fast to be made up as the fast was not broken deliberately.
Question: If one eats forgetting that one is fasting and then remembers the fast but deliberately continues eating, does expiation become necessary upon such a person?
If one goes on eating thinking that one’s fast is broken because one has forgotten one’s fast and begun eating, it necessitates making up for that fast; expiation is not necessary. If one knows the fact that eating or drinking forgetfully does not break the fast, but in spite of it, if one deliberately goes on eating or drinking, both a make-up fast and expiation become necessary upon the relevant person.
Question: I skipped some fast-days in Ramadan. Is it necessary to offer kaffarah?
It is a grave sin not to fast in Ramadan without a valid excuse. First, you must make repentance for the fasts you missed. Then you must fast a day for a day. That is, you must keep as many make-up fasts as the same number of missed fasts. If one has omitted 30 fast-days in Ramadan, one must keep as many make-up fasts as the number of omitted fast-days. Kaffarah is not required. Kaffarah is not the penalty for not fasting, but the penalty for breaking a fast of Ramadan without a valid excuse.
Question: I did not make intention for the fast because I would go on a journey. I ate and drank after sunrise. Does it require the fast to be made up, or does it require kaffarah (expiation)?
Kaffarah is not the penalty for not fasting, but the penalty for deliberately breaking a fast for which one intended previously. Omitting a fast without a valid excuse is haram, but it does not require kaffarah. According to the Imamayn [Imam-i Abu Yusuf and Imam-i Muhammad], it requires expiation because you ate and drank deliberately though you had the chance to intend until one hour before the early afternoon namaz. But if you had eaten and drunk after noon, expiation would not have been required according to the Imamayn as well because you missed the chance to intend. It would have required only the fast to be made up. Fatwa was given not according to the Imamayn, but according to Imam-i A’zam. No matter when one breaks a fast for which one did not intend before, it only requires the fast to be made up. It does not make one liable to expiation.
Question: If one intends for the fast after sunrise, does it require a make-up fast or expiation if one breaks one’s fast before or after noon?
Because one made intention after dawn, a make-up fast is required in both cases.
Question: If one’s journey ends and one returns one’s homeland after dawn and then one makes intention for the fast and later on breaks this fast purposely, does it entail expiation?
Because the intention was made after dawn, expiation is not necessary. One has to make up for that fast later.
Question: If one breaks one’s fast deliberately and then experiences something that exempts one from fasting, does one still have to offer kaffarah?
If such a situation arises, kaffarah is not necessary. For example, if a woman begins menstruating or if one falls ill so much so that it is impossible to fast, then only a make-up fast becomes necessary. But if one goes on a journey, one has to offer kaffarah because a journey is not something that arises beyond one’s own choice.
A fast without intention is not valid
Question: I work the night shift. One day I forgot to make intention for a Ramadan fast and slept. When I woke up, adhan for the early afternoon prayer was called. Some said that intention could not be made anymore. I did not eat or drink anything until sunset and acted like a fasting person, thinking that maybe there might be a way out. Do I have to make up for that fast?
Yes, you have to make up for that fast because making intention (niyyah) is fard (obligatory). A fast without intention is not valid. However, in case of such exceptional situations, if there is a different report, even if it is weak, or if any of the other true madhahib shows a way out, one can imitate it to save one’s act of worship and render it valid. Regarding your case, there is a weak report. According to Imam-i Zufar, one of the Hanafite imams, your fast is valid, and you do not have to make up for it. According to this imam, if one forgets to make intention or if one has not made intention for any reason whatsoever and also has not done anything that nullifies the fast that day, one is considered to have observed the fast. When one encounters such unavoidable cases, it is permissible for one to act upon the statement of Imam-i Zufar.
Question: It is said that engaging in masturbation requires the fast to be made up. In my opinion, such a person deliberately causes the fast to break, so I assert that kaffarah must be offered. In what book is it written that it necessitates only a make-up fast?
That masturbation requires only the fast to be made up is written in the books Fatawa-i Hindiyya, Bahr-ur-raiq, and Durr-ul-mukhtar. It does not require kaffarah. The religion is not based on mind, but on transmitted religious sources (naql).
Question: If one cannot bear the fast and breaks it, does it require the fast to be made up?
If one cannot bear it genuinely, then it requires the fast to be made up.
Question: Seeing a few people eating meals in the refectory, we, to, absent-mindedly broke our fasts at 4:40 pm without being mindful of the time on the assumption that the time for fast-breaking came. Afterward, we referred to the calendar and saw that sunset was at 4:44 pm. As there is not an intentional breaking of our fasts, we must only make up for them, mustn’t we?
Yes, you must make up for them.
Question: When we are fasting, are we allowed to not put much water into our mouths and noses while we are performing an ablution?
Yes, you are allowed to.
Question: Some timetables for fasting are different from the Türkiye Calendar. Which is safer to act upon?
Surely, it would be better to be on the safer side and to act cautiously and prudently. You should act upon the Türkiye Calendar. Otherwise, fasts will have been put into danger of being spoiled. The calculations in Türkiye Calendar are the ones that have been implemented for 100 years. [This issue is discussed in detail in the article “Different Calendars and Timetables.”]
Question: Some people say that if we do not fast on the first day of Ramadan, we are allowed to break the fasts if need be when we fast on the other days. Is it true?
There is no such thing. It is fard to fast every day in Ramadan. You should not believe such superstitions. A person, according to his/her state of health, may not fast during the initial days and may fast the following days. Or he/she may fast during the initial days and may stop fasting the following days after falling ill. What to do and how to do in such cases is written in ilm-i hal books (books that explain Islamic principles pertaining to both faith and practice). [In order for us not to believe such superstitions, we must learn our religion. In order to learn our religion properly, we recommend that you read the book Endless Bliss, which has been prepared with the translations from valuable works of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars. To read and purchase it online, visit: www.hakikatkitabevi.com.]
Question: Is it makruh to use miswak?
It is not makruh. In the Shafi’i Madhhab, it is better not to use it after noon. They consider using miswak after noon makruh as it removes smell of the mouth. They say, “The smell of a fasting person’s mouth is pleasant in the sight of Allah. Then why do we remove something that is pleasant in the sight of Allahu ta’ala?”
Question: Do people have devilish dreams in Ramadan?
No, they do not. They see dreams that stem from the nafs.
Devils are tied up
Question: Are only overly rebellious devils tied up in Ramadan?
No, all of them are tied up. What causes us to commit sins in Ramadan is our nafses. Since devils are tied up in this month, they cannot give evil suggestions. Yawnings that occur in Ramadan are not from the Devil, either. Nervous yawnings happen in case of fatigue, lack of sleep and so on.
Question: Is it permissible to say Feast of Sweets (to refer to Eid al-Fitr)?
Since it is mustahab to eat any sweet food, such as dates or candy, before the namaz of Eid, it is permissible to say so.
Question: Why does Ramadan sometimes last for 29 days and sometimes last for 30 days?
The holy Ramadan is one of the lunar months. Lunar months last for either 29 or 30 days. It is stated in the Qur’an al-karim that it is fard (obligatory) to fast in the month of Ramadan (Al-Baqara 183-185). If a Ramadan lasts for 30 days, it is fard to fast for 30 days. If it lasts for 29 days, it is fard to fast for 29 days. All obligatory acts of worship are commandments of Allahu ta’ala.
Question: Can we give a meal to a non-fasting worker in Ramadan?
You cannot give a meal but can give money for a meal.
Question: Is it permissible to perform in winter those fasts that were missed in summer?
It is permissible.
Question: In the hajj, is it permissible to keep a fast as expiation in lieu of the sacrifice for thanksgiving?
It is not permissible. It is permissible only to prevent extravagance.
Question: If a person makes intention for a make-up fast after dawn, is this fast counted as a voluntary fast?
Question: When a traveler returns home, is it fard upon him/her to make up for those fasts that he/she did not perform?
Question: On the last day of Ramadan, if one is taken in by those who say that day is Eid al-Fitr and thus breaks one’s fast, does one have to make up (qada) for that fast?
One has to make up for that fast.
Question: If a person from the province of Erzurum keeps the fast in the province of Adana in summer, is it more reward-deserving?
No, it is not. It would be more reward-deserving if difficulty arose by itself.
Question: In which book is the hadith “A person cannot fast on behalf of another person” written?
It is written on the 238th page of the annotation of Tahtawi.
Question: Is it permissible to break a make-up fast at an invitation?
No, it is not.
Question: I believed rumors and made intention on the 29th day of Sha’ban, thinking that it was Ramadan. When I learnt the truth, I broke my fast. Does it necessitate a make-up fast?
It does not necessitate a make-up fast.
Question: If one sleeps or faints before the evening namaz and comes to oneself at noon the following day, can one immediately make intention for the fast?
One cannot make the intention anymore. It would have been valid if one had woken one hour before the early afternoon namaz and had made intention. However, in such cases one can follow the statement of Imam-i Zufar. According to his statement, one does not eat or drink anything and makes intention at that time and observes the fast. Moreover, one can fast even without intention.
Question: I am a student in a city that is far from my family. My mother asked me on the telephone whether I could get up for pre-dawn meal. I answered in the affirmative, but the truth was that I could not get up for it many times. I said so lest she should be sad to hear that I was fasting without eating anything before. Is it permissible to tell such a lie?
It is permissible to lie in such a situation.
Question: If one has the debt of three years’ missed fasts, does one have to fast for 30 consecutive days at a time to make up for them?
No. One does not have to fast for 30 consecutive days at a time. One can observe these fasts intermittently, like one or two or three or five fasts on each occasion. One should go on fasting in this manner until one completes 90 missed fasts.
Question: I have no days to make up. Is there a religious obstacle to intending for a make-up fast when I observe a fast, just in case I have broken or unaccepted fasts?
Even if one does not have a day or days to make up, there is no religious obstacle for one to perform make-up namazes or fasts. If one does not have make-ups, then they are counted as voluntary acts of worship.
Question: In places where the fast of Ramadan are started by relying upon calculations, will it be necessary to observe make-up fasts after Eid as there is the possibility that it may be miscalculated?
It is necessary to observe two make-up fasts because Hadrat Sayyid Abdulhakim Arwasi, the great Islamic scholar, stated, “Muslims who live in such places must fast two additional days with the intention of make-up fasts after Eid whenever they wish.”
Question: This year, New Year coincides with Ramadan. Isn’t it even worse to gamble or drink in this month?
It is always haram to gamble or drink. Surely the sins of committing these harams at holy places and on holy days are even graver.
Even though New Year and Christmas are different things, it is not permissible to make merry, like Christians, on the night of New Year because it may be considered as a continuation of Christmas celebrations that are held on 21 or 25 December. To perform the acts of worship of not only Christians but also of Jews and of all false religions is regarded as resembling them. However, except for the acts of worship and loathsome actions of disbelievers, there is no religious obstacle to doing their customs that are mubah. That is, one is not considered to have resembled them in such a case. (Radd-ul-mukhtar)
This night Muslims should do whatever they do every night.
Question: Is it permissible to keep a fast on the second day of Eid?
It is permissible to keep a fast on the second day of Eid al-Fitr.
Question: If one makes intention for a make-up fast in a state of sexual impurity and takes a bath after dawn, can one observe that make-up fast?
One can observe it. Moreover, if one who does not perform namaz remains in a state of sexual impurity until sunset, the fast is still valid. But the relevant person incurs a sin because of skipping the namaz and remaining in this state. That is, observing a fast in a state of sexual impurity does not break one’s fast.
Question: Are the terms fajr and imsak the same thing?
Fajr is the time for the morning namaz. Imsak is the time when eating and drinking is stopped when one observes a fast.
Question: While one is observing a make-up fast that was missed in Ramadan, if one breaks it deliberately, how many fasts does one have to observe in lieu of it?
If one breaks a make-up fast, one must observe one fast in lieu of it.
Question: Is it permissible to perform a namaz or a fast for a person, dead or alive, and to send the reward (thawab) of it to that person?
The reward of a namaz or a fast can be sent to that person, but a namaz or a fast cannot be performed for that person. The reward that is sent, however, does not substitute for a namaz or a fast that the receiver missed.
Question: Is it obligatory for the validity of a fast to get up for pre-dawn (sahur) meal?
It is not obligatory to get up for pre-dawn meal no matter what type of a fast one is keeping. Getting up for it is sunnat. If one gets up for it, one earns reward.
Question: I have started to practice namaz recently. I will observe the fast in the true sense this Ramadan. But I do not know precisely how I should calculate namazes and fasts that I missed.
You should calculate them according to what you think is most likely to be the number of them.
Question: Is it true that hand, face, or body lotions and creams contain alcohol, that we should not use them to be able to perform namaz, and that they are considered religiously dirty while we are fasting?
No, alcohol used in mixtures is forgiven.
Question: Could you write months and days when it is haram to observe a fast?
Fasting is haram only on the days of Eid. They are five days in a year, namely, four days of Eid al-Adha and the first day of Eid al-Fitr. One can fast on the other days.
Question: How should we intend to make up a missed fast? And when should we intend for it?
You should intend likewise: “I intend to make up for the earliest fast that I missed.” You can make intention anytime between sunset and imsak time.
Question: What are specific and non-specific votive fasts?
Fasts that are wajib to perform are observed by fixing a date, such as vowing to keep a fast on a specific day. For example, to vow to keep a fast on Monday is considered a specific votive fast.
Non-specific fasts: They are to vow to keep a fast without fixing any day. For example, to say, “I will fast for three days for the sake of Allah,” falls into this category.
Question: In lieu of two years’ votive fasts, is it permissible to give expiatory charity that is given for a broken oath?
No, it is not.
Question: If one has vowed to fast for a month, does one have to fast for 30 days without interruption?
No. One can fast intermittently.
Question: My grandmother had vowed to fast for a year, and she died without fulfilling it. What should we do for it?
For this vow, you pay expiation (kaffarah) for a year’s fast.
Question: I vowed to fast for three consecutive days, but on the third day my fast was broken because of a thing that broke the fast but did not entail expiation. What should I do?
If you break a votive fast deliberately, it does not entail expiation. You must fast for three days anew.
Question: I said, “I will fast for two years if my wish is fulfilled.” But since I did not say that I would fast for the sake of Allah, do I still have to fast?
Yes, you have to fast because the fact is that a fast is observed for the sake of Allah.
Question: When one says, “If I do such and such an action, I will fast for one day,” does one have to fast for one day each time one does this action? Or does it suffice to fast for one day if one breaks one’s promise several times?
It suffices to fast for one day.
Question: I will depart from America and will have an overnight flight. I will be on board during the time of pre-dawn meal (sahur). Which country’s imsak time will apply to me? My home is in the Netherlands. When I arrive home, will the iftar time (the time to break the fast) of the Netherlands apply to me?
The imsak time of the place of departure, that is, America, will apply to you. The iftar time of the place of arrival, that is, the Netherlands, will apply to you. The fast cannot be broken before the sun sets.
Question: We are two sisters. Our mother says that she could not keep fasts when she was pregnant with us. She kept the Ramadan timetables of those times, and after years, she made up for those missed fasts chronologically by referring to those timetables. She made intention according to them. Does she have to re-fast those days now?
She did a great job. She does not have to re-fast those days. Instead of keeping timetables, she could have made up for those fasts, saying, “I intend to perform the earliest fast that I missed.” The namazes that one missed must be performed in this manner, too. When one performs the earliest namaz that one missed, the namaz following it becomes the earliest namaz that one missed.
Breaking the fast and the adhan
Question: Is there a religious obstacle to breaking the fast immediately while the adhan is being called?
It is a condition that the time for it should arrive. The adhan may be called early or late. If the correct time for breaking the fast has come, it is permissible to break the fast, even if the adhan has not been called. If the correct time for it has not come yet, it is not permissible to break the fast, even if the adhan has been called. So is the case with eating and drinking at imsak time. That is, what counts is not the adhan, but the arrival of correct time. If imsak time has begun, one must stop eating and drinking, even if the adhan has not been called yet. Performing the namaz, too, comes under the same ruling. What counts is not the adhan, but time.
Question: Some people are eating all kinds of food, but they are not eating animal products, such as meat and milk, and are observing abstinence for 40 days. They are calling this practice “fasting.” Is there such a fast in Islam?
There is not such a fast in Islam. Such types of abstinence exist in Christianity. It means that they are performing an act of worship that belongs to Christians. Those who perform acts of worship that belong to non-Muslims or those who like such acts of worship though they do not perform them become disbelievers. (Bariqa)
Question: I have the debt of missed fasts. Can I perform them in the months of Rajab and Sha’ban?
There is no religious obstacle to keeping missed fasts and voluntary fasts in Rajab, Sha’ban, or any other months, but it is better not to delay making up for missed fasts without a valid excuse. A person who makes up for missed fasts during these months also attains the reward that is given to voluntary fasts observed during these months. (Nawadir-i fiqhiyya)
Missed fasts or voluntary fasts may be observed consecutively or intermittently in Rajab and Sha’ban. You must not single out the day of Friday or the day of Saturday for fasting. But you are allowed to fast on Thursday and Friday or on Friday and Saturday.
While observing fasts in Rajab or Sha’ban, if you have fasts that you missed, you should intend, “I intend to observe the earliest Ramadan fast that I missed.” If you do not have missed fasts, it is still permissible to observe missed (make-up) fasts.
Question: I have children aged 12 and 14. Is it fard upon them to perform the namaz and observe the fast?
When a male or female child reaches puberty, it is fard upon him or her to perform the namaz and observe the fast. She makes up for the fasts she missed during her menstruation later after Eid, but she does not make up for namazes she missed during her menstruation. In a hadith-i sharif narrated by our mother Hadrat Aisha, it is stated that it is necessary to make up for fasts that are missed during menstruation, but it is not necessary to make up for namazes that are missed during menstruation. (Bukhari)
When our mother Hadrat Hawwa (Eve) menstruated, Allahu ta’ala ordered her not to perform namaz and not to observe fast. He ordered her not to make up for the namazes she missed during her menstruation but to make up for the fasts she missed during her menstruation. (Mawkufat)
Question: Since winter days are short, am I allowed to observe voluntary and make-up fasts during these days?
Yes. It is good to make use of legal concessions. It was declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(Observing a fast in winter is booty that is obtained without difficulty.) [Tirmidhi]
(Winter is the springtime of a Believer. Its days are short, so the Believer observes fasts. Its nights are long, so the Believer performs acts of worship.) [Ghunya]
Question: The duration of menstrual bleeding of a woman who imitates the Maliki Madhhab is 15 days. Should she refrain from fasting for 15 days and make up for those days later?
As she does not imitate the Maliki Madhhab in fasting, she must start fasting after her bloody days according to the Hanafi Madhhab have passed.
Question: Is it allowed for a man to kiss his wife while he is fasting in Ramadan?
A kiss like a parting kiss is permissible, but kissing her lustfully is not permissible. It is makruh to kiss her when there is the danger of ejaculating. If a man ejaculates while kissing his wife, his fast is broken, and it requires the fast to be made up. In the Maliki Madhhab, it is haram for a man to kiss his wife while he is fasting.
Question: If one ejaculates while sleeping at noon and cannot take a ghusl for any reason whatsoever, will one’s fast be valid?
Without a valid excuse, it is haram to remain in a state of sexual impurity. One incurs another grave sin as one cannot perform namaz because of this state. One who is unable to find water must make a tayammum and must not remain impure. If the relevant person does not know the fact that a tayammum must be made, then the fast will be valid because remaining in a state of sexual impurity is not an obstacle to fasting.
Question: Is there a religious obstacle to observing a fast only on Friday?
It is makruh according to Imam-i Abu Yusuf, but it is not makruh according to Imam-i A’zam. When scholars disagree over whether a certain act of worship is makruh or sunnat, that act of worship should not be performed so as to follow all mujtahid scholars. That is, one must not single out Friday for fasting if there is not a good excuse to do so. It is good to fast on Thursday and Friday or on Friday and Saturday.
Fasting and performing namaz
Question: If one cannot fast with a good excuse, is one not allowed to read the Qur’an al-karim or to go to perform the tarawih namaz?
Fasting, performing namaz, and reading the Qur’an al-karim are not interdependent. A person who cannot fast because of a good excuse can read or listen to the Qur’an al-karim and perform five daily and tarawih namazes.
Question: When a person causes another’s death in a traffic accident, does any kaffarah, other than a legal punishment, become necessary upon the relevant person?
Yes. Today such a person must fast for 60 days.
Breaking a voluntary fast
Question: If one breaks a voluntary fast deliberately or with a valid excuse, does one have to make up for it?
Yes, it is wajib to make up for it no matter whether it was broken deliberately or with a valid excuse. It is permissible to break a fast if there is a valid excuse, but it is sinful to break it deliberately.
Fasting on the last day of Sha’ban
Question: Is it appropriate to fast on the last day of the month of Sha’ban?
The last day of the month of Sha’ban is called “the day of doubt.” Fasting on that day has aspects that are makruh, permissible, and impermissible. Fasting on that day is of three types:
1. It is makruh to intend to observe the Ramadan fast or to fast with the intention, “If it is the day of Ramadan, I make intention for the Ramadan fast. But if it is not the day of Ramadan, I intend to perform a voluntary fast.”
It is also makruh to fast on the last day of Sha’ban on the assumption that it is necessary to precede Ramadan by observing a fast. There are also scholars who state that it is makruh to fast on the last day of Sha’ban so as not to resemble Christians.
A hadith-i sharif says, “Do not precede Ramadan by fasting one or two days before it. He who fasts habitually can observe those fasts” [Muslim].
2. It is permissible, not makruh, to fast with the intention of a voluntary fast or a make-up fast.
3. It is not permissible in any way to fast with the intention, “If it is the fast-day of Ramadan, I intend to perform it. If it is not, I do not intend to fast.”
Question: While we are keeping a fast of Ramadan, can we intend at the same time both to keep a votive fast and a make-up fast?
No, you must intend only for the fast of Ramadan. Similarly, while one is performing a fard namaz, e.g., the fard of the early afternoon namaz, one cannot intend at the same time to perform the sunnat namaz of the early afternoon namaz. However, while one is performing a sunnat namaz, one can also intend to perform the fard namaz of the first early afternoon namaz that one missed or any other obligatory namazes that one missed. In the same way, while one is observing a voluntary fast during holy days, one can also intend to make up for the earliest missed fast of Ramadan. Just as the present time’s namaz is different from a missed namaz, so a fast of Ramadan is different from a missed fast of Ramadan. When one observes a voluntary fast, one can intend both to observe a voluntary fast and the earliest fast of Ramadan that one missed.
Debt of make-up fasts
Question: It is said that a young lady who has the debt of make-up fasts or make-up namazes cannot marry before clearing this debt. Is it true?
No, it is not. Since it is not appropriate to observe a voluntary fast without her husband’s permission, maybe what is meant is that she, for this reason, should not go her husband’s home with the debt of fasts. A girl can marry before finishing her make-up namazes, too.
Question: Can we make up for our missed fasts of Ramadan whenever we want?
Yes, you can. But it is better to make up for them at the earliest possible time. In the Shafi’i Madhhab, if one does not make up for them until the following Ramadan, one will become liable to both fasting and making an expiatory payment (fidya).
Question: When a person forgets his/her fast and eats or drinks, should we remind him/her about his/her fast?
If the relevant person is strong, you should remind him/her about the fast. It is makruh not to say it. If the relevant person is weak, you should not say it because it may be that Allahu ta’ala has made him/her forget the fast and eat. The purport of a hadith-i sharif is as follows:
(If a fasting person eats or drinks forgetfully, this is the sustenance that Allahu ta’ala has sent to him. It is not necessary to make up for this fast.) [Dara Qutni]
Intention for a missed fast
Question: If one does not have any days to make up, can one still keep make-up fasts?
Outside the holy month of Ramadan, when one observes voluntary fasts on Mondays and Thursdays or on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of each month, or on the initial days of each month, or on the other sacred days, that is, whenever one observes a voluntary fast, it is better to also intend for a make-up fast. If one has any invalid fasts, one will not only make up for them but also observe the voluntary fasts that are advised to be performed on sacred days.
Fasting only on Sunday
Question: Just as the day of Saturday cannot be singled out for fasting, so is it also makruh to single out the day of Sunday for fasting since it is a sacred day according to Christians?
No, it is not makruh. There is no religious obstacle to fasting only on Sunday.
Question: What are specific and non-specific votive fasts? When is the intention for them made?
To vow to fast on a specific day comes under this heading. For example, to vow to fast on Monday is a specific votive fast. Intention can be made for such fasts until one hour before the early afternoon namaz.
It is to vow to fast without fixing and day. For example, to say, “I will fast for three days for the sake of Allah,” comes under this heading. Intention for such fasts must be made before imsak time.
Intention for votive fasts
Question: Until when can intention for a votive fast be made?
There are two types of votive fasts:
1. Specific fasts,
2. Non-specific fasts.
For instance, if one says, “I will fast on the first Thursday of the month of Sha’ban,” one can make intention that day until there is one hour before the early afternoon namaz. If one says, “I will fast for one day for the sake of Allah,” one can make intention until imsak time