The Basics of Fasting

The Basics of Fasting – Payment [Fidya] & Expiation [Kaffara]

The Basics of Fasting – Payment [Fidya] & Expiation [Kaffara]

The Basics of Fasting

The Basics of Fasting according to the Shafi’i School

(An abridged and edited version of a pamphlet written in Arabic by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed.)

  1. The Ruling of Fasting Ramadan
  2. Integrals
  3. Recommended Measures
  4. Excuses that permit one not to fast
  5. Making up Missed Fasts
  6. Payment
  7. Expiation


Allah is praised, Lord of the Worlds.  Blessings and peace on our master Muhammad and his folk and companions, one and all.


The following rulings about the fast should be known, applied, and taught to one’s family and whoever does not know them.


  1. The Ruling of Fasting Ramadan


Fasting Ramadan is personally obligatory for every Muslim who has reached puberty is sane and can fast.  It is not obligatory for a non-Muslim, a child, an insane person, or someone unable to fast (such as someone of advanced years or someone who is continuously [muzmin] sick).


  1. Integrals of the fast


Fasting has only two integrals: (1) the intention and (2) abstention from the nullifiers of the fast.


  1. Recommended Measures while Fasting
    • Warning:  Let the fasting Muslim who is avid for his religion and the pleasure of his Master beware lest he concludes his day of fasting by breaking it with smoking, having finished off his good work with an unlawful act that Allah is not pleased with.  Whoever prefers Allah, Allah will prefer him.
  2. Excuses that Permit one not to Fast
  3. Making up Missed Fasts


  1. Payment [fidya]


    Payment [fidya] is due from four:


    1. An old person who is unable to fast.
    2. Someone continuously ill.
    3. Whoever delays making up missed fasts until the following Ramadan without being excused in this delay.  Payment [fidya] is due every year.
    4. The pregnant or nursing woman doesn’t fast purely out of fear for her child.  If she fears purely for her own self or both herself and her child, payment [fidya] is not due from her.


    According to the Shafi‘is, payment is a handful (about 275 grams) of food from the main staple of the area, such as wheat, barley, or rice.  It can be paid to any deserving recipient of zakat.

    Making up Missed Fasts

    1. Expiation [kaffara]


    Expiation is only due to someone who deliberately and willingly has intercourse during the day of Ramadan in full knowledge of its unlawfulness when he has not already nullified that day’s fast by eating or drinking.


    As for the one who merely touches his wife without actual intercourse, or has intercourse not remembering that he was fasting, or under coercion, or out of ignorance of its unlawfulness, or has already nullified his fast before intercourse by eating or drinking, he does not need to perform any expiation.


    Expiation is only obligatory for the husband; it is not obligatory for the wife.  An expiation is due for every day of Ramadan that one nullifies through intercourse.

    The Basics of Fasting

    One performs the expiation by freeing a believing slave.  If unable, then one must fast for two consecutive months and if unable to do even that, then one must feed 60 people who are short of money (see Reliance, h8.11) a handful (about 275 grams) of food from the main staple of the area (such as wheat, barley, or rice).


    Warning: Some newlywed youths ignorantly have intercourse during the days of Ramadan, preferring to satisfy their lusts rather than obey Allah Most High.  They should fear Allah and know that in addition to the expiation they have to perform for every fast nullified through intercourse, they are also falling into Allah’s wrath and anger during this tremendous [mu‘adhdham] month.


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