Traveling and the Ramadan Fast
Question: Is the fast of Ramadan fard (obligatory) upon a traveler as well?
Yes, but it is permissible for a traveler not to fast and to make up for unperformed days later.
Question: Since it is not necessary to observe the fast during travel, does one who is observing the Ramadan fast earn the reward of a voluntary fast?
If a traveler observes the fast of Ramadan, the reward of an obligatory (fard) fast is given.
Do not abandon the fast without an excuse
Question: Is it a sin not to fast for a person who travels constantly due to being a long-distance driver?
If there is no difficulty that affects his work negatively, it is very thawabto fast in the holy month of Ramadan. To skip it without a valid excuse is a grave sin. It was declared in a hadith-i sharif:
(If a person does not fast for a single day in Ramadan without a good excuse, he cannot earn the thawab of this single day, even if he fasts for all the year round instead of it.) [Tirmidhi]
Therefore, one must not leave the fast without a good excuse. It is permissible for a person with a religiously legitimate excuse not to fast and to make up for missed days later. If fasting during travel causes inconvenience or problems with your work or a situation that may result in an accident, then it is permissible to abandon the fast and to make up for it later. A hadith-i sharif says, "It is not piety to observe the fast [with difficulty] during a journey" (Bukhari).
[Travel, or safar, means to set out on a journey to go to a distance of more than 104 km. One who travels to a distance less than this does not become a traveler, or safari. Piety stated herein means to earn much thawab.]
Question: I did not make intention for fasting on the basis that it was permissible not to fast during a journey. I ate breakfast and set off to board the plane at 11:00 a.m. Isn't it permissible not to fast during travel?
If you had set out on the journey before the time of imsak (it is the time when prohibition on eating begins), it would have been permissible for you not to intend to fast and to eat and drink when you commenced the journey. But when you were eating breakfast, you were settled (not a traveler). Instead of making intention, you ate and drank, which is a sin. You should have made intention, should have started the journey in a state of fasting, and should not have broken your fast. That is, you should have completed the fast on that day. However, since you ate and drank without making intention previously, it suffices to make up for that missed day.
Fasting during a journey
Question: Since we commence our journey after the time of imsak, we make intention for the fast before that time. In other words, we must complete the fast on that day, even if we are on a journey. However, we, for example, board a plane to travel to the USA at 11:00 a.m. As we fly northward, the day lengthens by 7 hours when we are going to New York and by 10 hours when we are going to Los Angeles. What should we do in such a case?
If you can observe the fast, you will receive thawab. But if you are overcome by hunger and thirst and break your fast, it is not sinful. When one breaks the fast without a valid excuse while traveling, it does not entail kaffarah (expiation by freeing a slave or by fasting for 60 consecutive days or by feeding 60 poor people).
Question: We travel while we are fasting. When we travel from the east towards the west—from Erzurum to İstanbul, for instance—the sun sets more than an hour later. Conversely, when we travel from İstanbul to Erzurum, the sun sets more than one hour earlier. Should we break our fast according to the time of the city where we made intention or where we have arrived?
You break your fast according to the time of the place where you are breaking your fast. The fast cannot be broken before sunset. It must be broken not according to daytime hours but sunset. For fasting and prayer times, everybody has to act upon the time of the place where they arrive, no matter what country it is in the world.
Question: If a person breaks a fast of Ramadan without an excuse while traveling, does it entail qada (making up for this day) or kaffarah(expiation)? If a person breaks the fast before meeting the conditions for becoming a traveler and then starts a journey, does it entail qadaor kaffarah?
When one starts a journey, it is sinful to break the fast for which one previously made intention. Though being a sin, it does not entailkaffarah. But if one breaks the fast when one is settled (before becoming a traveler) and then starts a journey, it also entails kaffarah